How to Add Philanthropy to Your Small Business Marketing
As a small business owner it can be really rewarding to see the success of your local business translate into a positive impact in your community. But it turns out that entrepreneurs who incorporate philanthropy into their business model and marketing don't just benefit from "feeling good," they also tap into additional profitability that can be essential to the success of their enterprise.
For example, you're probably already familiar with TOMS Shoes. The Santa Monica, CA based company donates one pair of shoes to a child in need for every one pair of shoes sold. To date, TOMS has given away over 75 million pairs of shoes to children in need around the world as part of its “One for One” program. Turns out that adopting a commitment to a positive social impact is good for business.
So how can you, as a small business owner, incorporate a philanthropic mission with social impact into your business model and marketing plan? We have a few ideas:
Choose giveaways that do good. And shirts that add social value.
Ashbury Images is a nonprofit social enterprise servicing disconnected young people between the ages of 16-24 in the San Francisco Bay Area. The organization provides teens and young adults with job skills training in the screen-printing and promo industry. While going through the work program, these at-risk youths receive full educational, life, housing and case management support from Ashbury's parent company, New Door Ventures.
So if you're considering buying branded promotional products such as t-shirts, decorated wearables, mugs, water bottles, or embroidered goods for your business, consider sourcing your products through Ashbury Images. You'll be doing a whole lot of good while providing great products or promotional giveaways to your customers.
Wade Walker, General Manager, points out, "There are over 7,000 disconnected youth in SF alone. We just expanded into the Alameda county where there is over 40,000 disconnected youth. Every order placed is a donation back to our organization and leads to more opportunities for our youth. We are literally changing lives one order at a time.”
And it's not just a mom-and-pop shop. Ashbury Images supports large clients like Anchor Brewing Co. and Sports Basement with both imprinting and fulfillment services. So you'll be in great company while giving back. It really is a win-win. You'll be helping at-risk teens and building a positive brand story for your business. Be sure to share your new partnership with social impact on your blog, in your email newsletters, and on social media.
Provide internships with social impact.
Ashbury Image's parent company is New Door Ventures which provides skills training, meaningful jobs, education assistance and personal support to help disconnected youth get ready for work and life.
The San Francisco Bay Area is home to approximately 80,000 youth ages 16-24 that are disconnected from employment and education. Without connecting to school and work, these young people are at high risk to be poor, unemployed, homeless or incarcerated throughout their adult lives.
New Door Ventures believes every youth should have the opportunity to transition to a fulfilling, economically sustainable adulthood. In 2016 alone, 183 young people benefitted from employment opportunities through New Door Ventures.
If your business hires interns and/or seeks to fill entry-level positions, consider becoming an Ally Partner with New Door Ventures and hosting an intern. To date over 160 job sites at various companies have become Ally Partners creating opportunity and helping young people get ready for a better economic future.
It's another win for a small business, too. New Door Ventures will partner with you to learn your needs, both recruit and train, and match you with an intern. They'll also offer ongoing support for both the intern and supervisors.
Party with purpose.
Instead of a holiday party, consider a volunteer party that aligns with your small business and helps meet a need in your community. For instance if yours is a home-related business such as: an interior design firm, construction company, architecture firm, or landscape business, or you're a real estate agent or loan broker, a volunteer party with Habitat for Humanity is a perfect fit. In the restaurant business? Then perhaps your local food pantry is a good call. But don't just give back during the holidays, consider volunteering as a quarterly team-building activity as well.
Choose a cause or specific non-profit to adopt and stick with it. Also mention the events on your blog and social channels. Overtime, your clients and customers will begin to associate doing business with you as also helping your adopted cause. This will boost brand affinity and goodwill.
Use gift cards that give back.
Consider offering a promotion on a specific item or setting sales goals that once achieved, means that your small business will offer a gift certificate to clients or customers that allows them to provide a micro-loan to a third-world entrepreneur. You can do this through organizations like Kiva.
Promote your campaign and post pictures of gift card recipients (with their permission of course) on your social channels and write about the program on your blog. There's more goodwill and good brand affinity to be gained from this type of giving back.
Here are the 4 steps to implementing marketing with social impact:
#4 is probably the most important. Consistency is key. The longer you commit to incorporating a social impact component to your business model and/or marketing efforts, the better the results - both for your small business and the non-profit organization you've chosen to partner with. Don't be surprised if you see more new business referrals because of your commitment to a cause, but don't expect it to happen overnight either. Go for the long haul - and the most good!