I just sat down with our local March of Dimes this morning to discuss promoting an upcoming fundraising event.  We discussed different ideas that will help them generate interest in the event, thank their sponsors and create valued publicity for their sponsors.  Like all non-profits, they have limited to no funds for promotion and their fundraising goes directly to helping save the lives of babies.  How could anyone turn a blind eye to such an important mission?

This got me thinking about the importance of giving back to our community as individuals and as business owners.  The power of doing good is immeasurable.  It isn’t just a nice tax write off for your company.  It isn’t just a warm fuzzy.  Sometimes giving back to a charitable organization can have a bigger impact and bring more notoriety to your business than any slick ad campaign.

As a business owner, donating auction items, services or cash sponsorships can be a great way to promote your business when you have limited funds as well.  You’re return on investment can be countless.  You’ve heard of the butterfly effect?  The flitter of a butterfly’s wings in one part of the world may be just the impetus a wind needs to change a breeze into a wild hurricane on the other side of the world.  Small efforts create huge changes far beyond your horizon.

It’s important to support organizations whose mission somehow fits into your company’s bigger picture.  Or perhaps you feel it’s just the right thing to do.  Often times these organizations will promote your business in their print collateral, social media outlets, on air spots and a variety of advertising that they leverage through donations.  This expands your business’s exposure to a much larger audience than you may be able to afford on your own budget and showcases your business as one that cares about the community.  Your audience begins to see you as a company that is not just concerned with earning a buck but giving back those bucks to deserving efforts. They may also provide you with valuable networking opportunities.  They often will have special receptions for their sponsors and donors.  Take a close look at who else is supporting that organization- they could be your next customer!

So you’re the Director of Marketing and the Operations Manager, Accounting Department or Head Honcho wants to count the return on every dime you spend or donation you make.  Sometimes selling a marketing idea to the “numbers” people is harder than selling ice to an Eskimo.  But, often times these organizations have hard stats to back up the impact of a donation.  Showing the powers that be how much they would have to spend to get the same kind of exposure they get through donations can be just the trick to convince these tough customers.

On the other hand, you cannot rely on charitable contributions or community involvement as your only source of promotion.  It must be part of a bigger marketing strategy that encompasses a wide variety of avenues like your own advertising, social media campaigns, etc.  A media or ad agency can help you develop a full strategy that includes an all-encompassing marketing approach that will be far more cost effective than maintaining a full time Marketing Director.  And even if you have one on staff, there are often times too much to be done and too few hands to do it.  That’s where these companies can help you the most.  They can either help implement the plans your Marketing Director has come up with or act as a valued consultant.

It seems like such a simple idea.  It is such a simple idea.  Now, stay ahead of your competition and do it.  You’ll feel good and it will come back to you- sometimes in ways you’ll never really know.

Submitted by: Amanda Kennedy-Colie, Marketing Strategist