Marketing tip #57: Charitable dollars are marketing dollars

97121298 I believe that every business has a responsibility to give back. No matter where you practice your trade — there's a community that makes it possible.  To not share your time, talents and treasures is irresponsible and short-sighted.

I honestly think most companies share that belief and serve their communities well.

At MMG, that's why we started the Adopt a Charity program several years ago.  We also make cash donations, serve on boards and volunteer for the charities that matter to us.

That's not just because we're good people.  It's because it's smart business.  And here's the part of the message that makes people uncomfortable.

There's nothing wrong with a business benefiting from the good they do.  In fact…every charitable dollar you spend is actually a marketing dollar.

You wouldn't buy equipment that didn't help your business grow or spend money on computer software that didn't serve your clients better.  So why should your charitable gifts be any different?  

Every dollar or hour you donate is a business asset.  So spend them wisely.  If you're feeling charitable, make sure you get the maximum bang for each buck.  Here are some strategies to keep in mind.

It's better to give big to a few:  Don't get caught up in the "but we don't want to say no to anyone" trap.  If you give a little bit to everyone, you end up being one of 42 logos on the back of a 5K run t-shirt.  

It's far better to be the presenting sponsor or one of an elite group of sponsors.  You'll get a lot more exposure and you're giving enough money to actually make a difference.  Writing 100 checks for $25 is a waste of your efforts and isn't really impacting any of the non profits you support.

You won't get what you don't ask for:  When you're donating your money or your talents, don't be shy.  Ask for the recognition that will benefit your business.  

Want your logo on the greens at the charity golf tournament — ask for it.  Want to have your efforts recognized at the next board meeting — ask for it.  Want the celebrity host at the auction to appear at a private client only cocktail party before the event — ask for it.

Think about how you can leverage your donation.  What will cost the non-profit very little but provide your business with a boost?

Be creative in the perks:  There won't always be an opportunity to have your logo plastered on an event or get naming rights.  After all, you might not have $25K to donate. Even if your charitable gifts are modest — you can still enjoy some marketing benefit.

An introduction to an influential board member, a thank you from the podium, or four tickets to the fancy dinner/dance (two for you and two for your best client).  Don't think that only the big donations can garner a return on that investment.

Everyone of us should give back.  It's part of being a good neighbor, a good business and a good corporate citizen. But, there's no reason it can't be a win/win situation!

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10 comments on “Marketing tip #57: Charitable dollars are marketing dollars

  1. Elaine_Fogel says:

    Amen to that, Drew! Perfect for my three-hour workshop in January for the PPAI called, “Cause Marketing for Small Businesses.” Thanks!

  2. Cyndi Papia says:

    I give a lot of my time and skills to nonprofits and its rewards far exceed anything I would get if I asked for money and I enjoy doing it. I’ll admit I’ve been shy or hardly ever ask for recognition, and I should. I believe we all have a duty to pay it forward. Great post again, Drew.

  3. Tracy says:

    I use to work as an intern for a non-profit organization, which provided mentors for children in need of positive role models. During my time there, I really learned how beneficial donating to charities and non-profits could be for businesses. I actually worked in the marketing and partnership department, which was in charge of not only spreading the word about our organization, but also partnership development and event planning. The companies that actively supported us regularly received acknowledgements and ad spots in our newsletters. In addition, these same companies were always invited to attend our events and were usually spotlighted at some point during our dinners/events. Some companies donated large sums, while others regularly supported us for a much longer time with smaller donations. Regularly donating to a good cause can easily earn some great PR opportunities for any company.

  4. Michael Fulton says:

    I really like this post. It is very interesting to think about businesses doing it FOR business. It really is a great thing for companies to give to charities. It looks good to the community and is name recognition.

    The other thing I thought was interesting is the idea of asking for certain perks. I didn’t realize it was appropriate to ask for those things, I just assumed that they were just given out by that charity to whom they choose.

  5. Sara Hugley says:

    Most times when giving personally, it is not thought of to bring recognition to oneself since it can be considered as bragging. But, I really like how you emphasize that it is essential for businesses to show how they are giving back and to whom. This is not only beneficial to the non-profits, but also great marketing for the businesses.

  6. Austin Patton says:

    I believe this statement 100%, “To not share your time, talents and treasures is irresponsible and short-sighted”. This post just made me think of what I could do for my community while I’m in college and even my community that I was raised in. Not only to get my name out there, but doing something that I feel is going to make a difference to that community. I feel that some business today, do not realize how much that community does for that business. I feel that every business should have to give back to the community that they are operating in. I know it will never happen, but it should happen!!

  7. Cody Jandik says:

    I had never really thought of, “every charitable dollar spent is actually a marketing dollar”. I think that it is such a true statement, but we tend to think that charity is a one way street. I will keep that quote in my mind for future reference because it really did reshape my thinking on charitable donations as an business.

  8. Amy Meyer says:

    I have learned a lot about Corporate Social Responsibility in my college courses. I really agree with your views here about the necessity of giving back. It also makes a difference to the charitable organizations when companies give to them. They receive visibility, money, brand recognition, and possibly more donors. At the same time, the donationg company is receiving many of the same marketing benefits. Even a small donation can really be a win/win for both parties.

  9. Beau Williams says:

    Great post! This made me think about charitable donations in a different perspective. However, I do have a question. Can our time spent be just as valuable as our money? Small businesses can’t afford to be the presenting sponsor, but they can contribute many man hours. Curious to hear the thoughts on this. Again, great post!

  10. Brad Williams says:

    When you think about this statement is very true. Your charitable dollars can be a very big marketing tool, and in a good way to others. Others will see that you give back to the community and they will be attracted to that fact. If you give big amounts, then you will get lots of press for that fact, too. I really like this marketing tip Drew.

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