How to Work with Charities to Promote Your Business and Help Your CommunityBy: Kevin Nunley
Looking for a smart way to promote your business? How about a tried-and-true marketing method that makes you look good in the eyes of thousands of new customers AND helps people in your community? Notice how many successful businesses in your town support charities. It costs less than you think to help out a non-profit group and the promotional payoff can be huge.
Plus, there are lots of worthy projects in your area that could really use a helping hand. People give more to charities from November to December than any other time of year.
Organizations benefitting children and the hungry get special attention from the public. However, in surveys the public always says they wished fundraisers would be held at other times of year. They are suspicious of fundraising being grouped around Christmas.
NOW is the time to start talking with a good non-profit. Contact their director and ask how your business can help. In most cases you can dedicate a small percentage of your sales to the charity.
Non-profits will be ready and willing to include your name in their advertising and marketing campaigns. Have a logo, flier, short ad copy, or web site banner for them to use. Make yourself available to join charity representatives on radio/ tv talk shows and Internet chats.
There are so many worthy organizations that it is often hard to chose which one to help. If you don't already have a favorite, pick one that relates to your business in some way. If you sell children's clothing, working with a charity that helps underprivileged kids at Christmas would be a good match. Some charities are better equipped to work with sponsors and the media. Others are new, have inexperienced staff, and may appreciate your business experience in showing them how to organize people and resources.
THE BENEFITS TO YOU
Most people don't buy the item with the lowest price. Customers highly value service and image. By involving your business with a non-profit doing important work, you get the notice and respect of thousands of people who otherwise might not know about you. Note how many major newspapers and television stations are promoting charities this time of year. Their audience and advertisers appreciate when media works to improve the community. Your customers and prospects will feel the same about you.
As an added bonus, business, political, and community leaders are often heavily involved with charities. The people you meet can form a valuable network of contacts for future projects and business.
The Internet started as a non-profit effort and still carries a strong feeling of people selflessly working to improve life. Web designer Lisa Schmeckpeper recently found the Net a perfect place to do non-profit work. "It's turned out to be very effective. In working with Toys Not Tears, we've linked our non-profit site to the web sites of participating merchants." Order forms can be modified so when a customer buys, a percentage of the sale is collected by the charity. It's easy and everyone involved benefits from the constant flow of customers from site to site. The group uses one site for consumers with another to recruit merchants.
DON'T BE TOO COMMERCIAL
It's easy to get carried away trying to promote the sponsor's interests in a non-profit campaign. If it appears that sponsors are being promoted more than the work of the charity, the whole thing can backfire. Sponsors who stay discreetly in the background receive more benefit in the end.
Focus on how you can help make things easy for consumers. Ease of participation is often what separates success from failure. "Try to solve the problems a potential donor may have such as no time to write a check and mail it in, no extra money available, and fear their donation may not reach the right people," Schmeckpeper points out.
Lots of worthy non-profits are shouting their messages this time of year. Even though you are a sponsoring business, you may find yourself helping out on the publicity end. Use every available marketing and publicity option. It takes lots of repetition to have an impact. A well-written press release will interest editors and producers. Many email newsletters are good about donating no-cost ad space for charities. Radio, TV, and newspapers will often give you free time and space if you have a cause or event their audiences will be interested in.
Also think how you might be able to continue your association with a charity year after year. Those who don't notice you this year will be twice as aware the second time you participate. Many of the most successful business-charity associations have been going on for decades.
There's no question your business helps others by providing valuable products, services, and ideas. You'll multiply the good feeling when you lend a hand to a non-profit charity.
© 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996 DrNunley.com.
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