We all have social and community issues that we care about. A green planet for some, children in need for others, disabled veterans, survivors of abuse … the opportunity to give back is endless. But what does that have to do with small business?
Well, social programs not only help people in need, but also provide marketing opportunities for the generous, smart and socially aware small business owner. It can be profitable to serve (for both you and the charity).
Two Profitable Reasons to Support Effective Social Programs
1. COMMUNITY. Effective programs provide hope and opportunity for underrepresented segments of society. They help people survive, learn and eventually contribute. Social programs touch people’s lives, and that’s something the small business owner knows instinctively. We see the faces of our clients daily. We understand that the problem we solve in business helps people, families and communities in our way. Our size allows us to maintain the intimacy of service that our businesses provide. Supporting smart social programs is almost a no-brainer for small business owners. In fact, small businesses are some of the most generous givers in my community.
But we sometimes miss the real marketing benefit — and there is no shame in taking advantage of that benefit, when you consider a few things.
2. MARKETING. When you offer a quality product or service and also support an initiative that you believe in, that’s social networking at its best. It’s your business taking the time to care about both your clients and your community. Tactfully spreading the word helps the nonprofit and helps you. You not only get to tweet it and Facebook it, but you are often included in the event’s or organization’s promotional materials. Remember, that social program typically needs marketing support, too.
Two Ways to Maximize the Relationship
1. PASSION. Find programs that match or complement your business and personal beliefs. If you discover what you are passionate about in business, it makes it easier for you to weather storms as your build your dream. Simultaneously, if you discover what you are passionate about in community service, it makes it natural for you to give (and promote). For example, if you sell children’s clothes, then support a children’s program. If you sell women’s clothes, support the local women’s shelter. But don’t stop at giving.
2. PRESS RELEASE. Use a press release to the get the word out. Send it to your local paper, radio and television stations, and submit it online. You never know when your news can help a reporter complete a story and give you and the local charity publicity that money can’t buy. Since a rising tide lifts everything in the ocean, your promotion brings attention to the charity as well.
QUICK TIP: Be careful about choosing a polarizing issue (unless you are ready to stand by it or your business is automatically connected somehow). There are some issues that may cost you customers. In the end, you want to be both business wise and personally true.