The holiday season is in full swing and there may be a few clients that have been supportive of your small business in the past year. The question is: how to select an appropriate gift to show appreciation?
BBB has a few suggestions.
Tips for Corporate Gifting During COVID-19
- Thoughtful gifts maintain and strengthen relationships. Traditional holiday parties may not be an option for some small businesses, however, gifts are a safe way show appreciation and build a sense of connection with business contacts and employees. Consider connecting remote workers by empowering department heads to select specific gifts for staff members that express their business’ gratitude and caring.
- Choose appropriate, useful gifts. Avoid spending money on gifts that aren’t practical for the recipient. Instead, consider the likes and needs of clients, employees, or business associates. For example, for a sales professional who travels, a neck pillow or power bank might be an option. For remote workers, home office gifts, such as heated mugs or office plants, are a possibility. Keep in mind some people might not feel comfortable receiving an edible gift.
- Consider working with a gifting company. If the gift list is a long one, research gift vendors. Pay close attention to gift quality, customer service, gift list management, and tracking and reporting. A vendor should have a spotless reputation and excellent customer service. Research possible vendors on BBB.org.
- Understand the tax rules. Business gifts are tax-deductible, but there are limitations. In the United States, gifts are deductible up to $25 of the cost of the business gift per individual per year. Gifts that are worth $4 or less and have the business name on them (i.e. pens or keychains) are not deductible. “Experience” gifts, such as tickets to the theater or a sporting event are not deductible either. If you are giving tax-deductible gifts, keep accurate records of the gift, including the cost and purpose, as proof of the expense. Visit the Government of Canada website for guidance on deductions for business/employee related gift giving.
- Check that the gift is legal. It is legal for businesses to give gifts to clients and vendors, however, there may be some exceptions. For example, the U.S. Office of Government Ethics recommends that when federal employees are involved, gift givers and recipients should observe the government’s ethics rules. In Canada, see this article for more information about when gifts are appropiate. Inappropriate gifts could be considered bribery.
- Avoid making the gift an ad. Any gift sporting the company logo should be well made, in tasteful colors and with the logo understated enough not to look like an advertisement. If it seems like nothing more than an act of self-promotion, the recipient will not feel valued or appreciated.
- Spend the right amount. When thinking about how much to spend, consider how many years the individual has worked for or with company and, in the case of a business client, how much they spend with your company each year. Inexpensive gifts will come across as stingy and very expensive gifts could seem excessive. As a general rule, Forbes suggests choosing gifts in the $50-$200 range.
- Mind the packaging. The first thing a gift recipient sees is the gift packaging. The gift wrapping conveys gratitude as well as the actual gift.
- Include a personal note. A handwritten note is more valuable than an email or text. If possible, consider including one with the gift. Even a printed note with a personal message is still a good idea.
- Don’t limit gift-giving to the holiday season. Corporate gifts are generally sent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, which makes individual gifts stand out less. Make a stronger impression, and save money too, by sending business associates a gift at other times of the year instead, when they aren’t expecting it.
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