Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Business of Charitable Giving - Part II

Before choosing how to give, you should choose who to give to.  For ideas about finding a charity aligned with your own target market, please see PART I - Selecting a Charity.
BUSINESS CHARITABLE GIVING - PART II - Selecting a Manner of Support

All of the examples in Part I highlighted a donation of product as a means of support.  If you are like me, and have more inventory than cash, that is a good thing to do.  It converts supplies into advertising.  In the retail industry, product is king!

However, some businesses don't have a product, but a service, and some are custom made products only.  How can this work for you?  Well, the product give-away version for service or custom shops is a discount coupon.  Those can go in silent auctions and swag bags, easy.

Cold, Hard, Cash
In the charity industry, cash is needed most.  To quote the lead assurance partner at the firm, “Cash is king.”  Present some items with a percentage of the sale going to the charity of your choice.  Depending on the size and openness of the charity, they might even advertise it to their members for you.  (It never hurts to ask!)  You won't be out of pocket unless you sell something.  In the online marketplace of Etsy, that's what the Etsy for Animals team does.  Many members of this team donate a portion of proceeds to their chosen animal charity.  There are even some shops on Etsy that are 100% for charitable causes!

What else?  If not product (or coupons for them) and if not cash, then donate time: teach, coach, guest-speak.  Get out there and wow people and serve a good cause while you're at it.  People are curious.  We're learners.  Most people appreciate new skills or insights.  There comes a sense of accomplishment or enlightenment that makes them feel good about themselves (and YOU by association).  Demonstrating your expertise goes a long way to making people feel more comfortable about buying from you.

There are many ways to speak or teach about your business.  For example, if you make eco-friendly products, you can speak on the benefits of it.  You could write a column for a local newspaper or college magazine on the benefits of purifying your life or reducing your carbon foot-print (one of which ways happens to be your product!).

All you fashion divas out there, teach me how to pair items in to outfits or how to accessorize or how to dress different body types.  Teach me to match colours.  Teach me how to be observant so that I can gift shop for my friends and family better - what are the cues to look for to understand someone's style?

Do you sell home decor?  Teach me how to stage a room.

I teach people how to make cards so that they buy the raw materials and embellishments from me to do it.

A donation of your time and expertise is one way to align yourself with charitable causes that are totally unrelated to your product.  If there is a charitable cause near and dear to your heart or your community, you can donate your time and/or expertise and pick up on the marketing opportunity later.  You could appear in the newspaper or the charity’s newsletter.

For example, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario (ICAO) organizes free tax clinics.  Chartered Accountants volunteer an evening to help individuals who fall below the poverty line to file their annual taxes.  The ICAO then can publish its charitable efforts in its various marketing campaigns.

So, even when you can’t figure out how to align your particular product or service with a target market shared by a charity, there’s still no excuse not to get involved!

Make Charity Your Business.
Do good.  Feel good.  That's all there is to it.  Why?  Because I believe that all things in life come back to you, someway, somehow, sometime.

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