Hopefully by now you’re not shy about showing your philanthropic side. You’re in business to do great things — and some of them are worth shouting from the mountaintops. When you help a local cause, throw your full weight behind a local charity’s fundraising efforts, or selflessly donate your products or resources to someone’s good work; you don’t need to prove your giving motives by doing it anonymously.
In a previous post I talked about the reasons for “making the most of your charitable giving.” This post gives some guidelines for how to talk about your generosity with decorum.
Sometimes you just like to lend a helping hand, and that’s great. In other cases you embrace the work of your charity with genuine enthusiasm. That’s even better because your passionate support is personal. As a true champion, your support comes through naturally in your words, both spoken and written. You customers will feel it because you talk to them directly, and your prospects will know because you weave your passion for your cause into your business life and public relations. This includes your marketing materials.
Most charities honor their donors with recognition. They print your name in a flyer or bulletin, post your logo on a public sign or video, or give you a shout-out at an live event. They usually genuinely appreciate your efforts to further their cause. You can augment their good work and highlight your own local small business values by also sharing their cause on your own.
Where to bring up the subject of small biz charitable giving:
- Why not start a Pinterest board dedicated to your charity and it’s work, events, projects? Most people love visual sites where information is relayed quickly and colorfully.
- A press release is an easy way to get your business in the public eye. Include quotes about why you chose this particular charity.
- Make use of your website to inform your customers about your giving. You could include the news in your “About” page or on a separate blog post, optimized with keywords to attract local attention.
- Don’t forget email. Send an email with pictures about an event you helped organize or volunteered with. If it was a situation where your whole team got involved in a project, get different team members’ accounts of the day and share the comments with your list.
- Make sure you update your Facebook page with information about your charity. Link to their website or page so your Facebook fans can check out their work.
- If you regularly give to one specific charity, you could post a link to it from your website or hang a sign in your shop window to help your charitible organization gain ongoing attention from your customers.
How to talk about charitable giving in your copy:
Tell the story about your charity — and why you chose it — in your copy. Pay attention to the tone you use and try to connect with your customers in your usual way. You already have a relationship with your fans, friends and local customers, so keep your tone consistent with your every day voice.
Share with your customers the value you get from volunteering (or donating, organizing, whatever you do) for your charity of choice. As you describe what you get in return, how it makes you feel to give, you personalize the story. It turns “Look what I gave” into a message of “Look what I get to give” — with a much warmer underlayer of gratitude.
Describe how your local community and your customers benefit from the work of your charity. Whether it’s higher test scores at the local schools, cleaner water under the ground, better health and activity of seniors in your town, etc. you can easily show how your giving benefits everyone, including your local customers.
Keep the focus off of you and ON your charity. The beautiful thing about marketing your charitable giving is that you really don’t need to sell yourself to make an impact. It’s enough to be behind the scenes. While sometimes is perfectly appropriate to invite people into your shop (“Come in after the homeless puppy carnival for a 20% discount on your order”) many times it’s enough to simply show your logo and describe the charity’s work.
One more thing. I have to give a nod to the book Thou Shall Prosper by Rabi Daniel Lapin. If you believe that all giving should be anonymous, or that making “too much money” is something shameful, something you should hide; then his message will help you chart a new course. Your success is what ultimately allows you to make a difference. When you go into business to make money, you’re on the hook to make as much as you can, and with as much integrity as possible. Giving to organizations that make a difference — and then letting people know about it — ties into this theme.
Your relationships within your community, especially the ones that elevate others to “a better place” are the small biz perks that often go unrecognized and unspoken. Think about the other business people you inspire as you bring your best to your community through your business and you business’ charitable giving this holiday season.
Of course you’re not asking for accolades when you underwrite an event, donate proceeds, or provide free goods or services. But you can double your small business giving power by being creative and spreading the word about both your charity and your business.
Let me know…do you agree or disagree? What do you think about marketing your small business charitable giving?