• 2018

A Time for Giving

What’s involved in getting involved.

You see them on the local news and read about them in the paper. Local businesses carrying out charitable acts within the community. No doubt, it’s a great way to share the wealth. If done correctly, it can also have a huge impact on your business and the community.

Corporate Giving. It Really Pays Off.

In 2017, the Philanthropy Roundtable concluded that the vast bulk (72%) of American philanthropy comes from individuals. And, although the numbers show Americans are very generous, giving from a household account is markedly different than giving as a corporation.

While all contributions can be personally rewarding, corporate charitability affects more people on all sides of the interaction – from employees, to customers, to those in need.

“Community involvement is important for companies on a multitude of levels,” said Heidi Hedquist, PR Specialist and owner of Cause and Effect Marketing in Traverse City, Michigan. “Playing a positive role in the community builds trust in your business, raises awareness of your brand and can have a lasting, positive impact on your internal employee culture.”

It can have a positive effect on your corporate bottom line as well. A May 2015 Cone Communications and Echo Research study showed that 84 percent of consumers consider corporate social responsibility (CSR) when deciding what to buy and where to shop.

Starting Your Philanthropy Plan.

The key to getting involved is to strive for something that resides at the perfect intersection of social good and business intent. Your employees and loyal customers can help you decide where to focus your efforts. Just ask them what in the community is most important to them.

If there isn’t a specific cause or event that resonates with them, take an objective look at your clientele, community and corporate goals. By knowing who you will directly affect, as well as what you want to achieve, you can often support a charity or community outreach program that fits your business.

Depending on what makes the most sense for your business, there are several ways to get involved. Many companies  incorporate cash register donations or have on-site contests. Others choose to sponsor events with an on-site payoff, like a coupon or gift. Both, according to Hedquist, are great ways to track successes and involvement.

Sharing the Story. Letting the Community Know You Care.

The ultimate “share” of the story is media coverage; however, it’s not the end-all be-all. Your website and social media pages are great forums to publish information. A paragraph and some pictures, along with the dollar amounts and time spent giving back, are good items to post.

One of the programs Hedquist worked with was the Atlas Oil, Citgo Fueling Good program, which supports acts of good within the communities they serve. Customers who donated a dollar got a free bumper sticker and “hand” to stick on the wall at the gas station. The program was promoted via news media, social media releases and a racing sponsorship. “It’s amazing how something like that can drive decisions for customers when faced with which gas station to pick on any given corner,” said Hedquist.

The 4 “Ts” of Getting Involved

1. Time

Create times for your team to volunteer together.

2. Talent

Expertise can mean more than money. Your team could donate their expertise, for example repairing a vehicle.

3. Teamwork

Develop a partnership between your company and a charitable organization.

4. Tangibles

Whether money or things like clothes and coats, select a charity and get to giving.

“Don’t be afraid to be creative,” said Heidi Hedquist, PR Specialist and owner of Cause and Effect marketing. “Some of the biggest brands are getting involved beyond typical sponsorships. Like Burger King’s recent anti-bullying video*. It’s simple, inexpensive and incredibly impactful.”

*The video can be found on Burger King’s YouTube channel. It is called “Bullying Jr.”