Businesses Can and Do Help Charities
are becoming more concerned about poverty and suffering around the
world, “social responsibility” has become somewhat compulsory for many
large corporations. According to the Giving Institute (www.givinginstitute.org),
Walmart, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Exxon, AT&T and many others are
known for donating millions of dollars to charities each year. Yet, they
only account for about 5 percent of all donations to U.S. nonprofit
significance of this statistic is that the largest donor group is made
up of individuals and small businesses. According to a study by the
Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index, a staggering 90 percent of
small businesses support local charitable organizations and nonprofits.
Though the individual contributions may be small compared to the
donations from multimillion-dollar corporations, they are collectively
contributing billions of dollars to philanthropy.
this goodwill reflects positively on small businesses in local
communities and does not go unnoticed. As the economy shrinks and the
public becomes more aware of the struggles that local charities are
experiencing, raising funds to help these organizations increases a
businesses visibility and may even bring in new revenue. The key is to
maximize exposure by publicizing events or donations through media,
newsletters and advertisements. People feel better when they associate
themselves with businesses that are helping the community. For some
people suffering through hard times, doing business with a company that
supports charities may be the only way they can help causes they care
Marketing: A Mutually Beneficial Arrangement
Obviously, the charitable organizations benefit by partnering with
businesses, but it’s also a good marketing strategy for the companies
that make the commitments. The keys to successful charity partnerships
avenue of making donations
marketing strategy to inform your customers about your involvement
with a Charity that Reflects Your Values
charity whose work and values are reflected in your company’s mission is
an important first step. Support of any charity is a good move, but
finding one that complements your vision and your customers’ values will
maximize the rewards for the charity and your business.
example, when Storyville Coffee Company (www.storyville.com) was looking
for a charity partner, they sought to extend their philosophy that “a
cup of coffee is a catalyst to slow down and create space to dream and
imagine.” They found their match with the International Justice
Mission’s (IJM) (www.ijm.org) fight against human trafficking and
modern-day slavery. By helping the IJM’s work to physically set people
free, they also helped those people become free to dream.
Storyville Coffee Company and the IJM developed a plan to raise money
and awareness of human trafficking. To spread the word, Storyville
Coffee publicized its decision to donate 100 percent of its profits for
an entire month and to organize and sponsor a national concert tour to
raise awareness about the IJM. Through these charitable acts, people
heard about and cared about Storyville Coffee.
Your Avenue to Donate
on the type of business, there are several ways to raise monetary
donations for a charity partner.
Percentage of Sales. As illustrated in the Storyville Coffee Company
example, if you run a business that sells products or services, it is
simple to designate a percentage of profits for a charity donation. This
could be an across-the-board percentage of total sales, or it could be a
percentage of the sales of a particular product or service sold.
Product-based businesses can designate certain products to generate
donations. Service-oriented businesses can offer discounted deals and
packages, with some of the proceeds benefiting the charity. Be creative
in offering your charity designated products or services.
Private-Label Products. Any number of products can be developed
and sold to benefit the charity. There are many private-label
companies that produce products such as candles, chocolates,
beverages, condiments, cosmetics—almost anything you like. These
products can be customized with a private label.
example of a private-label success is Ethos Water (www.ethoswater.com),
founded in 2001 as a social start-up venture to help children around the
world get clean water. It was acquired by Starbucks Coffee Company in
2005. Ethos Water and Starbucks are committed to raising awareness of
the world water crisis. The water is now sold in Starbucks stores and in
many grocery, convenience and drug stores throughout the U.S. and
Canada. A portion of the sales goes toward humanitarian water programs.
Affiliate Sales. Businesses can partner with charitable
organizations that promote the company, which, in turn, donates a
portion of the sales generated back to the charity.
the Word Out
Enlist the Charity’s Lists. Enlist volunteers of the charity to
sell your role in making donations. Ask them to send out information
in their newsletters and fliers and to spread the word on social
networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter. Give them additional incentives to
encourage higher sales. You will benefit from the increased exposure,
and they will earn much-needed funds.
Organize an Event. Special fundraising events for your favorite
charity can be rewarding and fun for the whole community. Encourage
other businesses in the area to participate by helping with the
organization of an event or by volunteering services in exchange for
their name being included in the list of sponsors. To save costs,
get as many special deals as you can by explaining the event is for
charity. In any negotiation, always ask “Is that the best you can
do?” You will be surprised by how powerful that simple question can
charity events need to be like a national concert tour. An example of a
local charity fundraiser is a semiformal event that was held in a
beautiful bed-and-breakfast in a small New England town. The owners of
the B&B were happy to offer the inn at no charge because of the exposure
they received, as attendees toured the rooms and took brochures.
costs low, simple food was planned. The dining room was set up with a
variety of cheeses, fruits, breads and crackers. Volunteers prepared and
served hors d’oeuvres, desserts and wine to the guests. Another
volunteer played a violin softly in the background. They charged $75 per
couple and sold items donated by local businesses and artists via a
silent auction. It was a memorable event. Not only did they raise a
considerable amount of money for the charity but the generosity of the
businesses that participated in the event made a lasting impression on
marketing isn’t just another marketing gimmick. According to the study
by the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index, 80 percent of
small-business owners surveyed believe their efforts benefit the
communities they serve more than their own businesses. Giving back to
the community by helping those in need reflects the core values that are
important to many small businesses and their customers.
CherryPlanet.com was founded to help local businesses attract customers
by providing a platform for businesses to create coupon campaigns for
free. The site offers a way for businesses to save money on advertising
and marketing while helping customers save money while shopping and
doing business locally. In addition, Cherry Planet is committed to
donating 10 percent of its profits to worthy charities. Visit
www.cherryplanet.com for more information.