We aren’t about to argue that the primary nature of any business is to make money. Nevertheless, in order to make money, you need loyal customers, right? You might have asked yourself in the past — particularly if your business is still in its growing stages — how a company finds those loyal customers within the community. But be careful: If you portray your business as greedy or as not caring about its clients or the network in which its clients thrive, you won’t win anyone over.
Giving back to the community is one of the best ways not only to win over customers, but to get your name out there. Charitable acts and donations aren’t always expensive, yet they provide a great deal in return. If you’ve never considered creating a project that helps your business give back to your community, now is a great time to start.
Give Your Time
Time is money – so donate it.
Even a business that is just starting out can afford to give a little time for a good cause. Pick out a charity or organization in your community and donate your time — either to serve on a board or committee, or to participate in activities. You can even sponsor an event. And, if the organization has something to do with what your business does, (for example, you own a ladies’ clothing boutique and donate time to work in a shelter for battered women) that’s even better.
Get people on board.
What good is it doing something all by yourself and not sharing that warm, fuzzy feeling? Getting your colleagues to collaborate as a team not only helps the organization, but also builds camaraderie. You can also do your chosen charity a favor by getting even more community members involved.
How can you get people on board with the cause?
Try these tips:
- Share photos of yourself on a social media account having a good time with the organization. Be prepared to answer questions if you are asked, or direct people to the right person.
- If you have a storefront, allow the organization to leave fliers and other materials to share news with your clients.
- If you’re an online-only business, make it a habit to share the organization’s sites, accounts and other informative links.
Giving Your Product or Profit
Decide ahead of time who or what will benefit from donating.
If you have money or a product to give away as charity, decide ahead of time how you will place it into the correct hands. Have a meeting with other people who are interested in the concept and get their input. Again, consider organizations that have ties to your business in some way.
Keep an open mind about recipients.
You might have a favorite cause, but resist the urge to give them everything. Instead, keep a “charitable donations fund” as part of your business accounts and decide with your colleagues to which charities your business should donate. In fact, you may want to consider switching charities each time you give.
Let your benefactors do the talking …
How can you let the world know that your business cares? One way is to let others do the talking for you.
Here are ways to send the message that your business is giving back to clients and others around the community:
- Don’t forget to use social media. You might even ask organizations to create a simple blog post that your company can share with others. And keep an eye out for what they say on their own social media accounts so you can share it.
- Ask your clients if they would like to donate; just make sure you aren’t pushy about it. Explain to them why your company has taken up the cause. Encourage your clients to share the news with others. This will accomplish two things: It will raise money and awareness for the cause, and will get others talking about your business.
… or do some of the talking yourself
- When you donate goods, services or your time to a local charity, contact the local media and send them a press release. Don’t forget to include photos.
- Mention your charitable activities in your TV, radio and print advertising. Check to see if the charitable organization will mention your company in its promotional materials.
Giving back to the community will make you feel good about yourself and your company, but it also could be a great way to attract new clients.