Mar 13, 2020
It is not just a new decade. It is a New Era. And with it, how clients view business participation in a ‘give back’ or charitable giving program has changed.
It used to be that clients appreciated it when a business did some type of charitable giving or give back. Clients who saw that a business was sponsoring a sporting league, underwriting part of a community event or donating to charity experienced the business in a positive light.
But in this New Era, give back programs and charitable giving aren’t simply appreciated or merely seen as positive. Now, it is part of a majority of people’s buying decision.
For businesses like Wearable Imaging, the benefits of these programs aren’t new. Nor was it a financial decision designed to get a strategic advantage. We do it because we believe in it. We've been donating - including promotional products - to organizations that serve. And we’ve been active in charitable giving for years (we’ve done charity golf tournaments, donated promotional products to charity events and supported Alzheimer’s Orange County even before it became fashionable!). It is part of the weave and fabric of what we do and how we are in the world.
But for those who are new to this aspect of business, are needing a financial result to tie to charitable giving or are weighing whether to add such a program, let us unpack some numbers to consider in this New Era.
A recent study showed that 88% of consumers say they would buy from a company leading with purpose (other than profits).
And 78% would tell others to buy from purpose-driven companies.
That’s not just a small portion. Considering that more than three-quarters of clients would share with others what purpose-driven businesses are doing, the importance of positive word-of-mouth alone should tip the decision-making scale. And for businesses who have Millennials as clients, the commitment to purpose-driven business is even more vocal.
But just in case you need more reasons (or have other stakeholders to convince):
Here are 5 reasons why you might consider finding ways to give back:
#1 It Differentiates Your Business. Supporting what you believe in speaks volumes about you and your business. What’s more, in today’s crowded business world, it’s hard to differentiate yourself from your competitors. By supporting causes you believe in and your community, you show your clients that you care. And it also shows that you care about what they care about. That, in turn, builds customer loyalty and trust.
#2 It Benefits Your Reputation. Too often, businesses are portrayed as unfeeling entities with no heart (rather than as entities made up of people who care.) Getting involved in local charities and causes helps correct that perception and invites your customers and the community in general to see your company as caring and in a positive light. As a result, they will be more willing to do business with you and tell others about the goodwill you are doing in society. Most importantly it makes you feel good that you made a difference in the lives of others.
#3 It Expands Your Network. I can’t count how many times I have made strategic connections while volunteering in the community because I took the time to listen to what they wanted and needed. It gives you a chance to make true connections and get to know people. Volunteering is a great way to establish common ground with potential clients and strategic partners, giving them an opportunity to see that you are about more than turning a profit.
#4 It Builds Employee Morale. Providing opportunities for employees to get involved in a service project or volunteer in the local community will go a long way to building morale among your employees. It will also help you attract and keep top talent when they see that you are building a strong, outward-focused team.
#5 It Increases Profits. While I don’t recommend this as the main reason (or even one of the top 3) for giving back, it is one of its benefits. As people see you participating in the community and they start to understand who you are and what’s important to you, they will be more likely to buy from you which, in turn, will positively affect your bottom line.
Now that you have some reasons to support starting a give-back or charitable giving program, now let’s look at what to start.
This doesn’t mean you have to be the next TOMS who donate shoes for every pair purchased. There are very simple, effective ways for you to give back even if you are just starting out.
Here are some great ways to get involved:
#1 Volunteer. There are so many opportunities to volunteer in your local community that all you need to do is ask. If you need a place to start, check out VolunteerMatch.com or some of your local charities and non-profits. Ultimately, you want to find something that you are passionate about, that really fuels your fire!
#2 Sponsor a Youth Sports Team. Youth sports teams are always looking for sponsors and this is a great way to help out in the community and get name recognition for your business. Schools are always looking for businesses to help defray the costs of their athletic programs and offer multiple opportunities to sponsor the students.
#3 Sponsor a Local Event. Most non-profits hold various events throughout the year and are always looking for sponsors. Doing so allows events to happen that otherwise couldn’t. This is one of my favorites, as we lend our support by sponsoring golf tournaments and other events in the area.
#4 Donate to a Charity. Whether time, money, talent or product, donating to a charity can make a big difference for them and those they serve. It allows you to tap into your abundance and strengths to make a difference. Consider donating a product or service you provide that can strength their work or expand their outreach (we've donated promotional products to create a team feeling within the charity and give them swag to distribute).
#5 Support Local Businesses. One of the easiest ways to give back to your community is to support other small businesses. Make a point of frequenting local businesses, leaving online reviews for them, referring them to friends and family, and look for ways to partner with them to cross-promote your businesses.
We really are in a New Era. We are more connected than ever before. The client demand for give back and charitable giving programs are just a few ways that the world is changing.
So when you consider whether to participate in a give-back or charitable giving program, consider not only what it brings to your business … but what it does for the community in which you do business.
In the end, what you’ll discover is that it gives you a sense of belonging to a community – and that community has an affinity for you and, in turn, will support your business. These are the benefits we have received as we put charitable giving into practice while building Wearable Imaging over the last 28 years. If you want to explore how promotional products can help augment any give back or charitable giving program, give me a call at 949.888.7837 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up your complimentary strategy session.
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