When it comes to corporate philanthropy, every business owner should think of their business like a Miss America or First Lady. All businesses need a cause to promote. The First Lady and Miss America have it easy, because their terms are 4 years (8 years if their spouse is re-elected) and 1 year long respectively. When you become a business owner, you are signing up for a lifelong term (as long as the life of your business) to champion a cause.
Supporting a charitable cause or community organization demonstrates to your clients and community that you truly care. Your business has a soul. You aren’t just here to make a buck, you are here to become a collaborative part of the community. Donating time, money, talent or space (whether physical or intangible) signals to others that there are people behind your business who care. Choosing a cause may seem like an easier or more relevant task for brick and mortar based businesses, but service-based businesses and online companies have targeted communities they want to reach too.
Tip: Help your online community feel included by inviting them to donate to a specific cause alongside you.
A charitable cause helps give your business direction, and from a marketing standpoint it also gives you something to promote and talk about. No one enjoys the company of a self-centered person who speaks only of herself. What audience wouldn’t tire of a business that solely self-promotes? A cause provides depth and the ability to talk about something else besides your newest product or current specials. You can now share /tweet / post / promote activities related to this charity and it becomes relevant to your business. Broaden the types of conversations your business has socially and you will broaden your audience and your pool of potential clients.
Tip: Tag the organization you are promoting on appropriate social platforms to increase reach and solidify the partnership.
Choosing a philanthropy to support shouldn’t be seen as a chore, but rather a great opportunity to showcase something near and dear to your heart. This is an area where business owners can let a little more of their own personality or personal interests shine. Ideally, choose a cause that is relevant and correlates with your business. For example, an accountant may provide free bookkeeping services to a local nonprofit. One of our clients, All Star Burger, a local burger restaurant, donates gift certificates for smAll Star Burgers to teachers who can reward All Star Students in their classrooms.
Tip: Is there a cause you are already supporting personally that you could help in a bigger way by involving your business?
Companies don’t always have to donate their own services, products or gift cards. You can get a little creative with how you show support for a particular cause. For instance, the painting company, Sherwin-Williams celebrated 150 years as a business by donating $150,000 to the LeBron James Family Foundation. Both the foundation and the company are based in Ohio.
A few causes that we support at Alter Endeavors include: free web services for The Key 2 Free, which is dedicated to ending sex slavery and serving on the board of Hold ‘Em for Heroes, a charity poker tournament which raises funds for families with children battling cancer.
A cause gives you a chance to reveal to others why your business is unique, affords you with the opportunity to build relationships in your community and genuinely affect positive change by contributing to something greater than yourself and your business.