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Charity Marketing: Growing Your
Business Through Charitable Giving
Many savvy small businesses are affiliating themselves with
charities to market their businesses. Not only is it a primary means
for developing a powerful network but also it helps others in the
People like to associate themselves with businesses that support
causes, which help disadvantaged people in a meaningful way. Donít
think that charities are oblivious to your motivations. Most
charities today understand your secondary purpose for participating
in charities and are experienced at helping you receive a return on
your charitable investments.
In Which Charity Should I Participate?
Choosing a charity is sometimes confusing. Each has its own
demands on your time and a variety of different positions in which
to contribute. Look for charities that you believe in and to which
you have some affinity. Not only will it be more fun, but also
youíll be happier giving your time and means.
From a business standpoint, look for charities that will give you
meaningful exposure to a large number of influential people. In my
corporate consulting days most of the partners sat on the boards of
various charities with other business executives. Youíll also want
to volunteer your time in a position that will show your talents and
If you are sponsoring a charitable event, try to choose one in
which your target market would participate. For instance, if you run
a senior living community, consider getting involved with charities
for retired veterans. If you manage a sporting goods store, consider
sponsoring a little league baseball team.
Use Publicity to Associate Your Name With That Of the Charity
Linking your name with the charitable cause is an important part
of charitable marketing. Even if you are participating in a charity
for altruistic reasons, thereís no reason why you should not benefit
from the resulting positive exposure. Here are some ideas to
maximize your exposure:
your donations of goods or services to charities by
sending press releases and photos to the local media.
your charitable involvement in your marketing materials
such as newsletters, brochures, signs, displays,
advertisements, and commercials.
3. Get involved with high-profile causes that
attract the mediaís attention.
4. If you have given significant support to a program,
ask that it be named after you or the name of your business.
5. Give away information about your charity as a
part of your business transactions such as placing pamphlets
in your retail outlets, having employees wear clothing or pins
and buttons publicizing your charity, or placing charity
information with your product when it ships.
6. Lastly, be sure to ask your charity to recognize your
support in their publicity efforts.
Market Your Products and Services To The Constituencies of Your
Most charities have thousands, even millions of people that
either belong to the charity or who have some type of affinity with
your charity. These people make excellent prospects for your
products or services because of your indirect association with them.
Use these ideas to sell more of your products and services to
your charityís affinity group:
market to the employees, clients, members, family members, and
any group that is directly associated with your charity. Make
this group one of your niche markets by creating a marketing
program tailored to their wants and needs.
2. Advertise your
products and services in the communication vehicles of your
charity such as newsletters and magazines.
3. Offer special discounts and targeted promotions to
people who are associated with your charity.
4. Consider offering a percentage of the sale of particular
products or services as a donation to your charitable cause.
5. Develop a 'membership program' or a 'preferred customer
program' or even a 'buying club' for constituents of your
charitable cause by offering special benefits to members.
Invite Your Charity to Market Your Products or Services
If you want to put your marketing in overdrive and multiply your
charity marketing efforts consider inviting your charity to market
for you in a way that you and your charity receive a significant
Idea # 1 Invite your charityís members to sell coupons for your
business and keep a percentage or the entire amount of the
proceeds. A good example of this would be to allow local high
school band members to sell coupons to the neighborhood that
you service. Auto repair shops, chiropractors, beauty salons,
massage therapists, fast food restaurants can all take
advantage of this tactic.
Idea # 2 Designate
specific products as 'charitable' or 'cause-related' products
that, when sold, financially benefit your charity. Invite the
charity to promote these products. For instance, if you own a
barber shop, a portion of the proceeds from all haircuts done
on Tuesdays could go to your charity.
Idea # 3 Invite your charity to sell admission tickets
to a special sale, celebrity appearance, or grand opening to
build traffic for your business. Allow the charity to keep all
the proceeds, while you benefit from the increased traffic.
Idea # 4 Create 'packages' during special times of
the year such as Easter, the Fourth of July, or Memorial Day
that can be donated to your charity or even sold to them at
cost. They in turn can resell the packages or you can sell the
packages and give a percentage to your charity.
Partner With A Charity to Target a Niche Market
Charities, like businesses, are interested in building their
membership base. The best way to do this is through marketing to
specific niches that are inclined to develop an affinity with your
charity. Partnering with your charity to market to a niche will
bring new customers to you and new members to your charity.
For example, suppose you owned a fitness center. You could
partner with a health related charity for senior adults by doing
targeted promotions offering them free health classes in your
fitness center. Using your name and the name of your non-profit
charity in your promotion will lend credibility and breed trust in
If you manage a financial planning firm you could partner with
the American Association of Retired Persons and provide free tax
consultations at the local library.
Or suppose you invented a product such as the mentholated candle
(visit xxxxcandle.com). You could partner with the local health
clinic to jointly promote flu shots and your candle product.
Create a Co-op Business Venture With Your Charity
Taking the idea of charity partnerships a bit further you may
consider establishing a full-time commercial venture with your
charity. Both parties would provide specific resources to run the
venture. For example, you could provide the financial funding and
the charity could provide the staff, expertise, and equipment.
Although there are a lot of legal and tax issues to address with
this strategy, many such ventures are being established with
Donít Forget The Networking Opportunities
Perhaps the biggest advantage, from a business standpoint, to be
involved with a local charity is the opportunity youíll have to
network with other like-minded professionals.
If you are an independent professional such as a consultant,
C.P.A., lawyer, insurance agent etc., this may be the primary source
of business for your firm.
Make sure you put your new friends on your networking list and
make it a point to keep in close contact with them. Send thank you
cards, meet for lunch, make brief phone calls, remember birthdays,
and include them in your newsletter to stay in touch.
Make sure that you attend meetings and events where other
professionals will be. Volunteer to sit on boards or committees when
time permits. You might even consider urging your employees to
become involved in charitable networking activities to extend their
sphere of influence.
Although this article has been about building your business
through charities. Your primary motivation should be to help other
people. We should all leave this world a better place. Hundreds of
opportunities exist for you to make a difference in your society.
My wife and I are personally involved in a charity called
Families Supporting Adoption. We have two of the most beautiful
children in the world that joined our family through the miracle of
We have started a non-profit website (http://www.SuccessfulAdoptions.com)
for people who are involved in adoption to share their heartfelt
stories of successful adoptions.
When I was a college student I chaired the 'Gifts From Santa'
program, which sent gifts purchased by students to servicemen
serving overseas. I was once a young serviceman who served overseas
during several holiday seasons and have experienced the loneliness
of being away from my family. It was my small way of giving
My wife and I have established our own little special charity for
a family in Bolivia that has children with severe medical
challenges. Believe it or not, our dollar goes a long way in a
foreign country. This one activity has been a great blessing to our family and
theirs. In fact, we probably benefit from this charitable act more
than our Bolivian family does.
Everyone has a potential affinity with a charitable organization.
Search one out this holiday season and enjoy the sweet feelings
youíll surely receive from helping someone else.
donít feel ashamed to profit from your charitable giving.
Hundreds of charities are searching for special businesses to help
them in their cause. Find them and lend your helping hand.
David Frey has helped hundreds of small businesses achieve dramatic
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