It’s a contradiction. Your business seeks to earn money, not give it away. Yet counter intuitively, strategic giving grows businesses. Let me explain. Your business needs more customers. Your business needs a better-known brand. More people need to understand the quality of services and products you provide. You might stand in the public square and announce these things from sunup to sundown. Or, you might strategically pick a nonprofit partner, or two, who have relationships with people with the potential to be your best customers. By selecting strategically and investing thoughtfully, you can meet these people. They will learn about your business, by what on the surface appears to be mere “association.”
Here are some national examples. We know American Express because it’s massive marketing, but many of us experience a warm feeling about American Express because of the work it did years ago to support the Statue of Liberty. What could be more American? Despite the criticism of pink washing, Yoplait Yogurt remains strongly linked with fighting breast cancer. Women buy two-thirds of all groceries. ReMax links itself with the Children’s Miracle Network, which supports children’s hospitals and support’s ReMax’s outreach to young families.
What do these national models have to do with your small or mid-size business? They point to the potential you have to partner with nonprofits to launch your business to the next level. Begin by identifying causes that matter to your business. Places where you naturally fit. Places where it is logical for you to be at the table. For instance, an insurance company gets involved in public safety. A title company selects home ownership. A pest control company joins forces with environmental causes.
You may love cute puppies or kittens, but if there is no logical business connection, you direct your personal dollars to animal causes. Invest your business philanthropic and marketing dollars where your business fits best. Do this intentionally. Plan it in advance. Then act.
Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.
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