Good Deeds and Watchful Eyes

Not only are entrepreneurs generous contributors to charity, a new survey says they also insist their money isn't squandered

They say charity begins at home, but America's entrepreneurs know better: For small-business owners, the act of giving starts at the office and goes well beyond the mere act of writing a check.

According to a study of 809 owner/managers that was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates on behalf of the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance, an astonishing 91% of small outfits actively support charities and community groups. Less surprising, especially in the light of the typical entrepreneur's attention to keeping a close eye on costs, the majority of small-business donors prefer to support local organizations, where they can see how their money is being put to work.

"We tend to think of large corporations when we talk about business giving," says Art Taylor, president and CEO of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. "This survey clearly shows that small business giving important force in philanthropy and one that should be recognized and encouraged."


  Financial support is not the only way entrepreneurs demonstrate their commitment to the local community and society as a whole. Of those surveyed, 63% supported charities by donating products or services and 85% reported sponsoring youth sports teams and charity auctions. It's not a commitment, however, that comes without some very definite expectations.

Small-business owners "want charities to observe strict limits on use of donated funds," says Taylor, who adds: "A majority, 65%, of small-business givers expects 80% or more of a charity's total expenditures to go toward programs, as opposed to fundraising or administrative costs." Count on entrepreneurs to keep an eye on the bottom line.

By Roger Franklin in New York

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