Businesses Can and Do Help Charities
As people are becoming more concerned about poverty and
suffering around the world, Corporate Social Responsibility has
become somewhat compulsory for many large corporations. According to
the Giving Institute (www.givinginstitute.org), Walmart,
Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Exxon, AT&T, and many others are known
for donating millions of dollars to charities each year. Yet, they
only account for about 5 percent of all donations to U.S.
The significance of this statistic is the fact that the
largest donor group is made up of individuals and small businesses.
According to a study by the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index,
a staggering 90 percent of small businesses support local charitable
organizations and nonprofits. Though the individual contributions
may be small compared to the donations from multimillion-dollar
corporations, they are collectively contributing billions of dollars
All of this goodwill reflects positively on small businesses
in local communities and does not go unnoticed. As the economy
shrinks and the public becomes more aware of the struggles that
local charities are experiencing, raising funds to help these
organizations increases a businesses visibility and may even bring
in new revenue. The key is to maximize exposure by publicizing
events or donations through media attention, newsletters and
advertisements. People feel better when they associate themselves
with businesses that are helping the community. For some people
suffering through their own hard times, doing business with a
company that supports charities may be the only way they can help
causes they care about.
Charity Marketing: A Mutually Beneficial Arrangement:
charitable organizations benefit by partnering with businesses, but
it's also a good marketing strategy for those companies that make
such a commitment. The keys to successful charity partnerships
include choosing the right charity partner, choosing the right
avenue of making donations, and choosing the right marketing
strategy to inform your customers about your involvement.
Partner with a Charity that Reflects Your Values:
Finding a charity
whose work and values are reflected in your company’s mission is an
important first step. Support of any charity is a good move, but
finding one that compliments your vision and your customer's values
will maximize the rewards for the charity and your business. For
example, when Storyville Coffee (www.storyville.com)
was looking for a charity partner, they sought to extend their
philosophy that a cup of coffee is a catalyst to slow down and
create space to dream and imagine. They found their match with the
International Justice Mission’s (www.ijm.org)
fight against human trafficking and modern-day slavery. By helping
the IJM’s work to physically set people free, they also helped those
people become free to dream. Storyville Coffee and the International
Justice Mission worked together to develop a plan to help raise
money and awareness of human trafficking. To spread the word,
Storyville Coffee publicized their decision to donate 100% of their
profits for an entire month and to organize and sponsor a national
concert tour to raising awareness about International Justice
Mission. Through these charitable acts, people heard about and cared
about Storyville Coffee.
Create Your Avenue to Donate:
Depending on the
type of business, there are several ways to raise monetary donations
for a charity partner.
1. Percentage of Sales -
As illustrated in
the Storyville example above, if you run a business that sells
products or services, it is simple to designate a percentage of
profits towards a charity donation. This could be an
across-the-board percentage of total sales, or it could be a
percentage of a particular type of product or service sold.
Product-based businesses can designate certain products to generate
donations. Service-oriented businesses can offer discounted deals
and packages with some of the proceeds benefiting the charity. Be
creative in offering your charity designated products or services.
2. Private Label Products -
Any number of
products can be developed and sold to benefit the charity. There are
many private label companies that produce products such as
beverages, condiments, chocolates, cosmetics—almost anything you
like. These products can be customized with a private label.
An example of a private label success is Ethos Water, founded
in 2001 as a social start-up venture to help children around the
world get clean water. It was acquired by Starbucks in 2005. Ethos
Water and Starbucks are committed to raising awareness of the World
Water Crisis. The water is now sold in Starbucks stores and in many
large grocery, convenience and drug stores throughout the US and
Canada. A portion of the sales goes towards humanitarian water
3. Affiliate Sales - Businesses can partner with charitable organizations who
promote the company which in turn donates a commission or portion of
the sales generated back to the charity.
Getting the Word
1. Enlist the Charity’s Lists -
Enlist volunteers of the charity to sell your role in making
donations. Ask them to send out information in their newsletters and
fliers and spread the word on social networking sites such as
Facebook or Twitter. Give them additional incentives to encourage
higher sales. You will benefit from the increased exposure, and they
will earn much-needed funds.
2. Organize an Event -
Special events to help raise funds for your favorite
charity can be rewarding and fun for the whole community.
Encourage other businesses in the area to participate by helping
with the organization of the event or by volunteering services in
exchange for their name being included in the list of sponsors. To
save costs, get as many special deals as you can by explaining the
event is for charity. In any negotiation, always ask “Is that the
best you can do?” You will be surprised by how powerful that simple
sentence can be.
Not all charity events need to be like a national concert
tour. An example of a local charity fundraiser is one held recently
in a small town in New England. The event was advertised as
semi-formal and was held in a beautiful bed and breakfast. The
owners were happy to offer the Inn at no charge since they let
people tour the rooms and take brochures. To keep costs low, the
food was kept simple. The dining room was set up with a variety of
cheeses, fruits, bread and crackers. Volunteers prepared and served
hors d'oeuvres, desserts and wine to the guests. Another volunteer
softly played a violin in the background. They charged $75.00 per
couple and sold items via silent auction that were donated by local
businesses and artists. It was a very memorable event. Not only did
they raise a considerable amount of money for the charity, but the
generosity of the businesses who participated in the event made a
lasting impression on the guests.
Charity Marketing isn't just another marketing gimmick.
According to the study by the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business
Index, eighty percent of small business owners surveyed say they
believe their community efforts benefit the communities they serve
more than their own business. Being committed to giving back to the
community by helping those who are suffering and in need, reflects
the core-values that are important to many small-businesses and
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