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In the Black at FYE 2010? What Are Your Corporate Charitable Contributions?

February 18, 2011


Did you end the fiscal year end (FYE) of 2010 in the black? 

Today as I pulled out of a Barnes & Noble, I decided to make my firm’s first significant charitable contribution.  It was to classical WQED radio in Pittsburgh.  I made the phone call and was delighted when I heard my firm’s name on the radio when they thanked me (hey free advertising too).

 I have always wanted to find a way to support charitable causes in my business life.  When I drafted the business plan for my law practice over a year ago, I expressly aimed to support a charitable cause through the practice.   I wanted to pick a project or cause that was consistent or synergistic with the practice areas of my firm and/or quite honestly with my personal interests. 

While I donate my time as an advisor through the Powerlink Panel Advisory Program at the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence at the University of Pittsburgh,, and while I have made donations here and there to different charities, I still have not yet picked a singular project or cause to which my firm would really contribute.

I wrote a previous blog post on Kim Collins of bluetomatodesign, and how clever I thought her marketing plan for her firm has been, particularly with respect to the time she donates to the South Side Tree Project.

So business owners, if your business ended 2010 in the black, what charitable contributions has your company made? 

I remember in law school my torts Professor O’Brien, used to say,”To whom much has been given, much is expected.”  I very much believe that.

As we approach tax time, how much of your personal or business income did you give away to charity in 2010?

I know in this tight economy it seems as though we are holding onto every penny in fear of the uncertain future.

Tax time and this topic also always make me reflect back on a fraudulent transfer investigation on which I was working a few years ago.  My boss told me to look at the tax returns of the wealthy defendant and review the charitable contributions that were made, if any.  If the income reported is relatively high and little to no contributions were made, that is a red flag (i.e., the defendant is likely a  money-grubbing shyster), which I thought was interesting. 

I also think about a BNI colleague and fellow West Virginia University alumnus, Dr. John Montesano, of Steel City Chiropractic.  As a part of his practice’s philanthropic program, Dr. John has his new or current patients bring in food or stuffed animals, etc. in lieu of their co-pay, so that Dr. John can make these donations to a charity.  Read about all of the philanthropic programs he has orchestrated. 

What can your business do to help others while at the same time create more business for you?

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