Each year Stone Brewing Company makes in-kind beer donations exceeding $250,000 in value to 300+ charitable fundraisers. The Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians (best known for Viejas Casino and Outlet Center) makes philanthropic donations to hundreds of local community groups and charity events annually. Also, growing local meal delivery service Dinner Studio has given over $3,000 in gift certificates to 66 events since March, 2011. Why? Obviously because these successful businesses embrace giving back to communities. They’ve also learned that strategically giving away their best products makes good business sense.
According to the 2011 Cone/Echo Global CR Opportunity Study, “94% of consumers are likely to switch brands to purchase from companies who support a cause. Eighty-four percent believe it is important for companies to make donations…. and consumers are using their own spending and loyalty to press these demands.” If you are looking for new customers, these numbers spell it out–get involved with causes.
To get the most bang for your buck, take an inventory of what you have to offer. Assuming it’s not cash, you can make just as big a splash with these assets:
- Large customer database or social media following. Advertising trades, newsletter links, and cross-promotions are valuable win-wins to share awareness and don’t typically cost more than what you’re doing already. Media companies partner this way on a regular basis, but anyone with a great audience can too.
- Time. Volunteer periodically at events that draw large audiences like walks, beach clean-ups, local school fairs, and food distributions. Many will let you wear your own company’s shirts while working (find out beforehand). Forming a fundraising team (or multiple teams for friendly competition) allows you to fundraise through others and participate at the same time. Active.com and VolunteerMatch are great resources for local events.
- Products and gift certificates. For fundraising event auctions raffles and swag bags can be easier and more affordable when both cost-conscious and time-squeezed. Don’t forget to choose an item that gives you a future opportunity to turn the winner into a regular customer–gift certificates or products with coupons attached. This will get featured at events in the interest of increasing fundraising, and attendees “shop” the prizes before bidding (so write a great description!). Using a site like DonationMatch lets you manage requests paperlessly, generate gift certificates, and continually attract verified nonprofit event organizers so all you need to do is publish what you have to offer and respond.
As Deepak Chopra says, “The easiest way to get what you want is to help others get what they want…. And in our willingness to give that which we seek, we keep the abundance of the universe circulating in our lives.” With whatever you have to offer, know that your potential customers are waiting for you to show them that you care and will reward you with their business.
Renee Zau is the co-founder and CEO of DonationMatch, a social enterprise website helping charitable businesses and nonprofits easily find each other online to have goods and services featured at fundraising events. The site eliminates repetitive tasks for decision-makers, enables users to find more opportunities, and saves everyone time. DonationMatch was inspired by a desire to provide a quicker, simpler process for both donors and recipients alike after being on both sides in her 12+ years as a franchisee and regional marketing coordinator for Curves and a silent auction volunteer and chair for multiple nonprofits in San Diego.