Community involvement isn’t just good for your soul; it’s also good for your business. Potential clients are more likely to support a business involved in the community.
So, how do you make the most of your charity involvement?
The key, says Shauna Baty, president of The Business Block, is to build a relationship with the organization you’re getting involved with.
First, make an appointment to discuss your involvement. This will help you balance the organization’s needs with your ability to give. Baty recommends working with the organization for at least one year. The organization can better count on your involvement, and it will help balance your commitment more effectively.
Ask for permission to put a link to their homepage on your website. Ask if, and how, you are able to use their logo. Some organizations are understandably very cautious; make sure you know their rules before using their name, and get it in writing.
Include your charitable involvement in your marketing materials, such as press releases, newsletters, brochures – even emails.
Baty has noticed links to charitable organizations after the signature on business email. “Click here to learn more about my favourite charity,” is a clever way to show off your involvement and promote the organization.
“It’s a non-invasive way, but one that’s noticeable, and seeing it makes you feel good,” says Baty.
It’s an easy way to invite people to learn about your cause(s) without pushing – but put your company information first. The charity link should be below your signature and company information.
Every business needs an “about us” page on their website, and this is the perfect place to discuss your charity involvement in detail. “It’s a real touchy-feely page,” says Baty.
Focus on aspects that first drew you into working with the charity. Be sure to include photos, their logo, and key information about them. A link to the charity’s page is a no-brainer.
Consider how much you’re comfortable sharing. After all, you’re speaking to potential clients. If, say, you’re involved with a fundraiser because a loved one suffered from the disease, you may want to focus on how her positive outlook inspired you, or how much you enjoy working with the organization, and not the particulars of the illness.
Sponsoring an event is an option, but sometimes cost-prohibitive. Contests with a portion of the proceeds go toward charity are a great way to get your name out, says Baty. They provide an opportunity to reach potential clients directly.
If you offer a service, consider adding the charity logo to your business card, says Baty. If you offer a product, be sure to add information about your charity when you send it.
Ask the charity to include you in their marketing, especially if you’re dedicated to one specific area, and have contributed substantial time and/or money.
If you’re looking for a unique option, Baty says starting a scholarship is a great way to help students with education costs. This also promotes awareness of your company to a larger group.
Don’t be afraid to be creative and use your actual time volunteering to promote your company. Working with other volunteers is a great way to build relationships and social networks.
Finally, sneak a peek at what other companies are doing to promote their contributions. Don’t be afraid to incorporate their ideas.
Consumers want to support a company that’s about more than just profits. They want to see successful companies involved in the community.
It’s not vanity to let them see your heart’s in the right place – that you’re working to make a difference.
In Canada charitable organizations are required to register with the Canadian Revenue Agency. Upon approval they will be granted a registration number, and this number will appear on any charitable receipts you receive. All registration numbers are listed on Canada Revenue Agency’s website.
In the U.S., determining the authenticity of a charity is a bit more difficult. However, every non-profit is required to submit an IRS 990 form. Request the organization send you a copy of the latest IRS 990 Form, as it will show the breakdown of how the charity divides the funds it receives. If they are unwilling to send you a copy you will have to dig a bit deeper into their operations, or move on and consider a different organization.
The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance and the American Institute of Philanthropy are charity watchdogs. These organizations provide listings of non-profit organizations, along with ratings, on their websites.
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