December 30, 2015

Make Money By Filling Your Businesses Dance Card

decorative picture of a tree stemsPhilanthropic giving generally takes one of three directions. The “Fill Your Dance Card” option links giving back with growing revenue. You give, in part, to find new customers.

One common way to fill your dance card is to sponsor events. Event sponsorships persist because they can be successful. Eighty-nine percent of U.S. consumers stated that given similar quality and price, they prefer brands linked with a cause. Dan Ariely writes about a study involving art and donations: “These results suggest that once someone (or some organization) does us a favor, we become partial to anything related to the giving party… the magnitude of this bias increases as the magnitude of the initial favor (in this case the amount of payment) increases.”

Event sponsorships, however, represent just one way to fill your dance card. You have a host of other choices.

You might also consider operating sponsorships. Or “Introduce Yourself” options. Introduce yourself options include prizes, contests, scholarships, free tickets, etc. They are all designed to help potential customers meet you. For instance, a plumbing supply business offers a competitive scholarship to a local tech school. The company introduces itself to classes of future plumbers and gains, as Ariely suggests, their favor. At a chamber presentation, a business introduces itself by raffling a free session and other prizes. A theme park offers a free ticket to a child who reads the most books in a year. This introduces the park, encourages reading, and creates park partiality among the school’s students, the teacher, and their parents.

To obtain the benefits of a full dance card, identify the specific customers with whom you want to dance. Explore nonprofits that interact with them. Don’t forget the potential value of connecting with board members, donors, and volunteers. Luxury brands often seek interactions with high-end markets, i.e., a Bentley dealer engages with the symphony. Other businesses see their customers engaged as Saturday work-site volunteers at Habitat for Humanity.

Introduce yourself options, events, and operating sponsorships present three of many way to fill your dance card by partnering with nonprofits. What steps will you take to fill your dance card? What will you do in the New Year? Why dance alone when you can dance with potential customers?




Karen Eber Davis

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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