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Using Charity Drives as PR for Your Small Business

Using Charity Drives as PR for Your Small Business

Everybody wins when a business supports a favorite charity or sponsors a beloved local non-profit: the charity gets a boost, your customers feel good about contributing to a worthy cause and your business enjoys positive PR, additional marketing and community goodwill.

Known as “cause” or “charitable” marketing, it’s a valuable strategy for savvy businesses because customers like doing business with companies that give back to their communities. According to a 2013 study by Cone Communications and Echo Research, more than 90 percent of shoppers worldwide are likely to switch to brands that support a good cause, given similar price and quality. The study also shows that customers trust and are more loyal to brands who are considered socially responsible.

More Reasons Why Giving Back Is Good for Business

Working with a local charity creates marketing opportunities and establishes positive associations for your brand, but it often goes well beyond these benefits. It’s also an opportunity to genuinely contribute to your community, to boost your employees’ morale by engaging them in a greater cause and to connect with your customer base in a meaningful way that’s different from business as usual.

How to Choose a Charity

Put thought into what charity you choose to spend your time and resources supporting. It should be a cause you are passionate about, with a mission both you and your team will feel good talking about and promoting.

Consider how your brand values and a potential charity’s values align with each other, and tie your business purpose to the charity’s mission whenever possible. For example, a transportation company may fit nicely with a charity whose mission is to ensure all families with young children have access to safe car seats. A car seat charity drive would be a natural fit with that partnership, whether it’s a fundraiser or collecting brand new seats to donate.

Then, from a business standpoint, look for an opportunity that will provide the best exposure to your target market or to the largest number of influential people. For example, if your target market includes families with children, it would benefit your company to sponsor a little league baseball team.

Need Some Ideas?

  • A transportation company could partner with a group such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), offering free rides on New Year’s Eve as part of a Keep Our Roads Safe campaign.
  • A printing company could team up with a literacy group, offering printing services or sponsoring book drives for under-privileged children in the community.
  • A graphic design firm could partner with a charity that helps the local women’s shelter; the firm could offer free workshops that provide résumé writing and design services to help in their job search.
  • Contact your local parks department and find out if they need playground equipment and/or landscaping to upgrade a community park. Organize a community beautification project, enlisting the help of employees, customers and neighbors. This idea works well for landscaping companies, plant nurseries or just about any business with a strong family-centric customer base.
  • Coordinate an annual “Warm Coats for Cold Kids” winter coat charity drive.
  • Hold a toy drive during the holiday season by partnering with a charity such as Toys for Tots, a military program that collects new, unwrapped toys which are distributed as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the local community.
  • Sponsor a charity walk for either a local charity or a well-known national cause, such as the American Heart Association or the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
  • Enlist the help of employees and customers to contribute to food drives, not only during the holidays, but also during the summer when kids don’t have access to public school lunch programs. Food banks often run low during the summer.
  • Work with local youth programs during the summer to coordinate a free sack lunch day, donated by your company. Recruit other businesses in your area to each take a day during the week to provide either snacks or sack lunches for the kids in the program.

Maximize Exposure with Smart Marketing

Once you’ve chosen your charity and linked your brand with the cause, it’s important to take advantage of the opportunity, both to increase visibility for yourself and to promote your charity. Here are some ideas to maximize your exposure:

  • Alert your local media about your involvement with the charity: send news releases, photos and write guest blog posts. This isn’t a time to be modest, so note your donations of goods and services, as well as charity event information.
  • Ask your charity to recognize your support in their publicity efforts.
  • Tell your customers about your ongoing charitable involvement where appropriate, including on your website and marketing collateral such as newsletters, brochures, displays and advertisements.
  • Spread your message through social media, especially when your message is about events that involve your customers; make sure you plan a comprehensive social media strategy around your charity’s activities.
  • Give your customers information about your charity as a part of your business transactions, such as including charity information with your product when it ships or as part of the retail transaction, displaying brochures or leaflets in your retail locations and having your employees wear buttons promoting your charity.
  • Network with other community leaders and business people involved with the charity; stay in contact with them and volunteer to help them when you see a need.

For more help, check out this overview about how to market your charity event.

Have you helped others through charitable work while successfully marketing your business and gaining valuable PR? Share your experiences with us in the comments below.

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Kabbage Team

The Kabbage Team is here to not only fund the small business loans you need, but to help you grow your business through free marketing tips, webinars, tools and more. Is there something you'd like us to cover or want to get your small business featured on our blog? Send us a note at content@kabbage.com.

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