As more customers look for brands that “do good” in the world, companies are increasingly investing in charitable events, employee volunteer days and fundraising for important social causes.
Some small businesses may not believe they have it in their budget to pursue charitable initiatives. However, there are plenty of cost-effective ways to raise awareness of goals that are important to you and your team.
To help, 15 members of gotechbusiness.com Business Council offered some low-cost ways to authentically tie philanthropy to your brand. Follow their advice to make a difference without breaking the bank.
1. Convene stakeholders to have productive conversations
Achieving a philanthropic connection with a brand can be as simple and efficient as committing to go beyond the transaction by bringing together stakeholders with diverse perspectives for intimate and productive conversations on topics that matter to society. This can be achieved by using wine and events as a business strategy to make people feel heard, inspire hope and promote solutions. – Patrosky Lawson, KPM Group DC
2. Get involved in small group volunteering
There are several volunteer activities that small groups can participate in that do not require monetary contributions, such as Habitat for Humanity. These can also serve as great team building exercises and result in great social media opportunities. – Robert Consalvo, Storage space Self-storage
3. Collaborate with charities
Partner with certain charities and charities to participate in volunteer or activist events. You can even host company-wide volunteer events to show your support for a particular cause that aligns with your company’s core values. In this way, you can even encourage your consumers to help and donate their time and money to this philanthropic endeavor. – Bill Lyons, Griffin financing
4. Put money aside for a good cause
Take the Bombas approach and have a portion of the sale set aside to go to a philanthropic cause. Not only are you doing well, but you’re also creating a reason for someone to buy from you rather than a competitor. Make sure there is alignment with the cause and your product. – Aimee Master, Madison Taylor Marketing
Choose a charity that aligns with your core beliefs as a business and appeals to your customer base. A small business is usually intertwined with the community, so a cause that benefits the greater good of the community aligns seamlessly with your brand. For example, a local restaurant may donate 10% of its proceeds to the school’s local parent council. It is also mutually beneficial. – Rocky Romanella, 3SIXTY Management Services, LLC
6. Collaborate with other companies
It is possible to give back without going bankrupt. Partnering with companies that have shared values and missions is a unique way to collectively donate more and spread the word. Making progress on the world’s toughest problems takes time and dedication – and often multiple actors are involved. As with anything in business, if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together. – Amy ball, JAB Advisory Group
7. Link the mission to your activities
Instead of a traditional approach where a percentage of sales and proceeds are donated to charity, I believe more impact and cost efficiency can be achieved by somehow linking the mission to the activities. For example, a coffee brand can source its beans ethically, build relationships with farmers, and showcase those relationships through social media. This can be done with ethical sourcing, sustainable packaging, etc. – Boris Sotnikov, KraftyLab
8. Be creative
We ask our customers to donate at least one shelf-stable food item that our delivery team picks up when we get home, and most of them donate many items. Second, we host a weekly community podcast show highlighting local heroes and charities. In this show, we discuss their efforts and how it affects our community. We make a donation and they also get video content to use on their channels. – Jeff Giagnocavo, Gardner’s Mattress & More
9. Give employees time off to volunteer
Voluntarily release your employees to give back to the organizations or communities that matter to them. In this way, philanthropy is built into your business model and the impact of your business is widespread. – Deyman Doolittle, ShipSigma
Consumers are visual people. Instead of committing to a percentage or holding charity events, seek out social media collaboration with a goal that aligns with your business and personal interests. If the project is executed correctly, the visibility is hugely rewarding and beneficial for both organizations. – Yasmin Walter, KMD Books
11. Name philanthropic contacts
We have created a role within our leadership team for someone to be our philanthropic liaison. They are responsible for facilitating partnerships with local nonprofits and coordinating our giving back events. After launching this role, we further encouraged employees to participate in group volunteering activities and were able to double our charitable efforts. – Chelle Neff, Urban Betty
12. Provide non-monetary resources
A cost-effective way to incorporate a philanthropic link is to choose organizations that need non-monetary resources. For example, sending our people as volunteers for their initiatives is a great way to make a difference and it costs nothing. The employees also become involved in this way and feel good about themselves because of the bond. – Saravana Kumar, Kovai.co
Social media allows brands to leverage their visibility for causes they support. Those with large audiences may be able to get resources and support through media mentions of the brands they support. It adds credibility to the end-causes and provides insight into what matters internally to a brand. Kindness and empathy in this arena don’t make for a lack of goodwill. – Paul L. Gunn, KUG Corporation
14. Make sure your philanthropic efforts apply to your customer base
Product fit – meeting customer needs – applies not only to the products or services sold, but also to the choice of philanthropic linkage. The purpose of the tie-in is to demonstrate that the company’s human-societal values resonate with customers and add value to the purchase. A company must determine which customer segments it wants to reach and assess the cost-effectiveness of options for them. – Jerry Kan, Brilliant aging
15. Think long term
The most cost-effective option depends on how you tie your brand value proposition to your charity marketing strategies. For example, a small IT company may want to donate money or staff to support mentoring, internship, or education programs in technology. During this process, your organization can build relationships with future employees or learn new ways to solve problems. – Chris McGrath, appreciated Inc.