Both scenarios are FABULOUS! But first, you need to choose which one you want to create, a social campaign (just giving back) or cause marketing (a strategic partnership between your brand and the charity). Next you need to know what charities you want to partner with. It’s important to start off by making a list of causes or charities that are aligned to your company/organization. Does their mission and values align with yours? Are they doing great work in your community? Why do you love them? Are they a 501c3 and legally able to accept donations.
It’s like having an intern program, it can go really well and elevate your organization, or really wrong, it all depends on how you set it up and manage it.
In being a cofounder of a nonprofit, Girls Rule Foundation, we have been blessed to be the chosen charity for various events/companies about 40 times over the years. Our last partnership was with NY&CO for our 2018 fashion show which was awesome! They donated clothes to our fashion show and got positive PR for it and we got to partner with a great brand and raise money.
I have learned so much about both social responsibility and cause marketing, but in my experience when companies don’t know the difference they can get into a tangled lose-lose situation. If you do decide to work with charities in any capacity I encourage you to do it with thought, purpose and accountability so I added a few steps below to think about. Many companies put little or no time into their ‘charity’ program because they just choose a charity and slap it together. That doesn’t work. Charities are companies just like yours, but they can’t touch their profits where you can take all of your profits. They have employees, payroll, bills, IT issues, marketing to do, IRS reporting, programs to manage, donors to answer to and they are changing the world, but they have little capacity for drama or ego’s. They usually work on a very small staff who work double the hours and get paid half the salary of for-profit businesses.
My passion is to help more organizations become philanthropic, with thoughtful philanthropic programs – even the small ones need a good plan. As a business coach I have helped many companies to create a thoughtful plan for their vision to be philanthropic. I wrote a few of them below…
Below are 7 Steps to better success with charities
- 1. After you choose your charity partner be clear in the expectations of the charity – have it in writing what you expect of them and be honest so they can truly determine if they can do it or not. What do you want them to do, to attend, to give, to speak at, to do for your organization? They won’t know and they will not fulfill these expectations if they aren’t clear.
- 2. Think outside of the box. Don’t just choose a charity to choose a charity (that will look bad) and it won’t go well for either one of you. Choose them because you love their work. Do your homework to find the smaller charity that all the other companies haven’t found yet. Some cities are filled with businesses that all give to the the same 5-6 charities so think outside of the box. Be sure to pick nonprofits that have their 501c3 status.
- 3. Think big – Think of 1 or 2 big ways you can give, serve, elevate your chosen charity over the next year. Your members/employees will follow your lead, so organize a volunteer day, or a giving day, or support their events or sit on their board/committees. If you are creating a cause marketing campaign with a charity there should be a legal agreement of what the campaign should entail and measures along the way so everyone stays well -informed. THINK about what you can collectively do for your charity – they usually have a wish list so that is a good place to start.
- 4. Know them. Be sure that your board or leaders know the charity well. Have the charity do a presentation at a meeting so your team knows who your charity is. Ask good questions and see where you can get involved or what programs or products the charity has that you can support, buy, cobrand or get involved with. Also ask about their PR and social media plans maybe you can be a part of them?
- 5. Have a charity liaison – this person is from your team who stays in contact with the charity through the year. The charity usually doesn’t know how to communicate with your company otherwise. Make sure this person touches base with the charity monthly and reports back to your team.
- 6. Be clear in what the charity gets from you – If it is a % of ticket/product sales, or minutes on stage, or it’s point of sale round up change, or a presentation on your stage, or a number of volunteers from your team, or dollars raised or a dedicated space in your newsletter or X amount of social media mentions or space in your office . etc. Be warned small charities (who have under $1M budget) need these kind of relationships the most, but most of them will have very low capacity so be clear in what they get and what you expect from them.
- 7. They love you back. Most charities will love you back in big and small ways. They will rave about you if the relationship goes well.
A list of 20 more ideas are found here.
I hope this helped you with the steps to choose a charity and do good in your community.
I always encourage business owners to build your business so you can do well, so you can do good.
Dena’s passion is to help leaders and entrepreneurs structure, market and lead their business to the next level of greatness and revenue. Let’s start today.