Prepare for Holiday Retail Success by Starting Your Charitable Plan Now

holiday charity marketing tips

Do you know what holiday charitable events and causes your small retail store will be participating in this season?

Your big competitors do.

In July, MediaPost reported that national retailers including Macy’s, Kohl’s and Men’s Wearhouse were already launching cause-related holiday marketing campaigns. Macy’s offered a shopping pass for $5 that gave shoppers discounts in stores and benefited several children’s and fashion-related organizations. At Kohl’s, sales associates participated in volunteer events to benefit children’s hospitals.

Although these campaigns were tied to the back-to-school shopping season, the same tactics could easily be used during the holiday shopping season. So, what will your business be doing to compete?

In a crowded field, cause marketing is a great way to stand out — especially during the holidays, when shoppers have giving on their minds.

Here are some holiday charity marketing tips that you can use to get ready now for successful socially conscious marketing this season.

Choose Your Cause Wisely

You may be passionate about something like animal rescue or Alzheimer’s research, but do your customers care? Make sure the cause you select relates to your business in some way and also inspires your customer base.

For instance, animal rescue makes sense for a pet supply store, but Alzheimer’s research really doesn’t.

The greater the tie-in, the more likely you are to get results — both in marketing terms and in terms of helping the organization.

Check It Out

If you don’t already work with the organization or cause you’ve selected, make sure you investigate their reputation and find out how much of the contributions go to the cause versus overhead or administration.

Customers often want to know these things, and if you end up donating to an organization that turns out to be stealing from its charges or wasting money, it’s going to tar your reputation as well.

Choose Your Methods

There are so many ways to give back, but during the holidays, the key is involving your customers in your efforts. Take a lesson from the big companies that MediaPost mentions:

  • Do like Men’s Wearhouse and have your customers bring in gently used items for donations to the charity you’ve chosen. Give them a credit to your store in return. For example, a sporting goods store could have customers bring in used sporting goods to donate to local programs for disadvantaged children or the Special Olympics. A pet supply store could request used leashes, towels, blankets and pet beds to give to animal shelters.
  • Do like Macy’s and sell a discount pass for a special shopping day or event at your store, with proceeds from the pass going to your charity.
  • Do like Kohl’s and get your employees involved in volunteering—but involve your customers, too. Organize a volunteer afternoon and give customers who participate a discount pass, gift card or other reward that encourages them to shop with you.

Make It Social

For all the retailers mentioned above, social media is a big part of marketing their holiday charitable outreach efforts. Spread the word on social media using hashtags, customer-generated photos and posts, event invitations and more.

This not only gets more people involved in your chosen cause, but also builds awareness of your business as a caring organization that’s giving back to the community.

Start now with these holiday charity marketing tips and begin to plan your holiday charitable outreach. You’ll boost your chances of reaching more customers if you start sooner.

Salvation Army Kettle Photo via Shutterstock

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Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.

6 Reactions
  1. In my neighborhood, we have made a campaign for gathering old clothes for the homeless young people which are living in foster homes. We promote it only by FB (no advertising) and the results are quite good, so if the cause is good and more people just see it and share the info. It’s enough to make the people to do some good!

  2. It always pays to help. You don’t even need to wait for the holidays. Business do it all the time. They call it corporate social responsibility and I think that we don’t need the holidays to do the same.

    • Now is the perfect time to start. Most will be clamoring to plan for the holidays on August so July or the end of July will give you a headstart.

  3. Donating to charity will do good things for your business and for the recipients. It is the holidays after all. It is the perfect time to do good.

    • I don’t think that small businesses need a reason in order to be charitable. Some businesses are created for the sole reason of charity and it must be done to give back.