Using charitable initiatives to boost your business

Business is now booming. Sales are higher than ever. But, even if your business is not having a stellar year, giving back to the community is important part of your business plan. Whether you plan a fundraiser or sponsor a group to walk in a charity race, the fact that your business is participating will raise the standing of your business in the community.

Why participate in a charity event? The answer will differ for each business. Some businesses may want the tax relief. Others want the free PR that comes with it. Still others want to get involved in their local communities.

Allying your business with a charity is a win-win unless you have not done your homework. Research is key to a successful outcome. Whatever the reason for working with a charity, here’s how to get started.

Getting Started

Decide what kind of charity your business will participate in. Ask your employees what charities they are interested in. Perhaps an employee recently lost a battle to cancer. A cancer research charity might help raise morale of staff shaken by the lost of a colleague and show that you care about the issues important to your employers.

Research charities that align with the business. You might want to match the charity to a business, for instance, a specialist manufacturer of prosthetic limbs would be a good fit for a charity that helps those injured in landmines. Or, a business that creates a specialized food for people with diabetes could sponsor a Fun Run for Kids recently diagnosed with diabetes.

Determine the level of participation. While sponsoring a golf tournament at a swanky club with A-list sports players in attendance may sound like fun, your company may not be ready for the financial outlay required for sponsors of the event. Think small this year, and steadily grow your charitable participation in years to come.

Contact a charity or have one of your employees who is affiliated with the charity start a conversation about how you can work together. Find a good fit and get to work.

Create a business plan. Design pledge forms and other materials. Schedule announcements about the fundraiser to increase recognition of the business’ involvement with the charity.

Charity: What’s in It for Business?

As with any form of promotion, your business will benefit from a prominently placed banner ad in a charity fundraiser brochure or from a logo placed on the t-shirts of all the charity 5K runners.

Make the most of your business’ participation from the start by:

  • Publicizing the fundraiser within your business. Post notices about the event or campaign on bulletin boards, within employee communications, and on list servs. Involve retired employees, spouses, and children, if a good fit.
  • Work with the charity to ensure that all mentions of your business are positive and match the tone of your business.
  • Avoid pitfalls by keeping the lines of communication open between the charity and the employees.
  • Distribute a press release mentioning your involvement with the event.

Campaigns That Work

Look within your business niche for companies with highly successful charitable campaigns. What are these companies doing right? Were there any pitfalls or hurdles they had to overcome to be successful?

An example of a campaign that works may be one where the proceeds from buying your product help someone. For instance, charity: water sells virtual bottled water for $20 with 100% of the proceeds going to freshwater well projects in Africa. One virtual bottle of water can provide 15 years’ worth of clean water to a person in Africa.

How do you measure success in a campaign? Is it the amount raised for charity? The number of employees who gave of their time and talents? Or, is it the amount of money donated by the business? The level of success with vary by business.

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