Capitalizing On Your Small Business Charitable Giving

Small business people are generous. They’re the first ones to contribute to a local high school’s booster fundraiser, the local little league, the building of a new library or the food bank. It’s in their DNA (especially those mom and pop businesses that serve consumers) to give back to their communities. According to this infographic, they are prolific charitable givers too.Because it’s the time of year for charitable giving, I want to talk to you about maximizing every dollar you give to your favorite charity by referencing your generosity in your marketing copy.Does that make you feel a little squeamish? You don’t “give back” with the direct intention of making more money, although truthfully, that’s the whole point of running a business! You wouldn’t even be in the position to give if your business didn’t make any money. The word “capitalism” is becoming a bizarre, bad word in a culture pretty much consumed by the acquisition of more stuff. It’s ironic to me, but that’s another rant for another day.Anyway, I’m betting the primary reason you contribute to your local charities is because you’re a “good person.” When your community thrives, you all win. If you did it for the advertising, you’d soon realize your marketing dollars are probably better spent elsewhere. And yet, small business owners are a special breed.It ain’t bragging if it’s true.The people who start businesses are usually the ones who genuinely have the hustle to make a difference. You’re in business to change people’s lives. So naturally you see “giving as receiving” when the direct result means a local charity thrives.I’m treading into territory few people talk about much these days for fear of taking anything away from your altruistic motives. However I want to talk about leveraging your generosity to bring in more business and make more sales. In fact, I believe that you serve your charities even more by telling others about your contributions than if you supported them quietly. So let’s just go there, shall we?I refer to two media stars whose (combined) recent comments support my theory:Ian Wolfman, CMO of MEplusYOU says that companies who invest in social contributions in 2013 will earn the trust of consumers. Giving to your local charities and presenting the social good you do in your community is an increasingly important aspect of branding as our culture evolves.
Terence Kawaja, Founder and CEO of LUMA Partners says that advertising budgets will potentially decrease early in 2013, causing weaker companies to drop off and stronger players to excel. Companies are tightening their belts due to the general global financial malaise. In the United States, note the recent public trepidation of even healthy businesses, large AND small, to spend money since the re-election. Business people are clearly worried about throwing away profits. Advertising budgets are some of the first to get slashed.So making sure people know about your charitable giving is a smart thing to do. Marketing that describes your “good deeds” doubles as a way to advertise, earns you the respect of your community, and helps you stay ahead of your local competition while potentially bringing in additional revenue needed to operate.The “profit-seeking, charitable-giving” mindsetSounds like a contradiction? Nope.First, you should be proud of your contributions to your community. Because you’ve built a successful business, you are at a point where you have profits to share. Not only do you bring products and services to people through your business; you also make choices about which local charities to help. That’s a powerful privilege that you have earned through your business.Second, you maximize the impact of your donation by exhibiting the good work of your preferred charities or organizations. By bridging your community involvement and your marketing tactics, more people will learn about all the great things your charities do for the community. You are using your reach as a small business person to champion the charities that need you. Basically you’re advertising for them, too!Finally, it’s a triple win because you raise awareness of the people in your community. Hopefully, you stand behind your services and products. You want to help as many people you can by making sure they know how you can serve them. Therefore, unless you proactively reach out to them, you do a disservice to all the qualified customers who don’t yet know about your business. You must show them. The same is true for your charity. By injecting reports of your charitable contributions into your advertising, you help the people who might not hear about what your business can do for them as well as those who haven’t heard what your charity does for the community. They deserve to know.One last caveat: the tax benefits to charitable contributions. Be sure to check them out. Ask your accountant, keep good records, and understand how to maximize your deductions for your monetary donations.