Holiday Charity Marketing Tips: Prepare for Retail Success 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. Read on for a guide to holiday charity marketing tips and the benefits for small businesses.

Benefits of Holiday Charity Campaigns for Small Businesses

holiday charity marketing tips


Small Business Deals


Charitable campaigns, particularly during the festive holiday season, are a staple for many businesses, regardless of their size or industry. These campaigns are not only a way to give back to the community but can also offer a myriad of benefits to businesses.

  1. Enhanced Brand Image and Reputation: Participating in charitable activities can significantly boost a business’s image, presenting it as socially responsible and compassionate. During the holiday season, when the spirit of giving is already in the air, such actions resonate even more deeply with consumers, setting the business apart from competitors who may not be as philanthropic.
  2. Increased Customer Loyalty: Consumers are more likely to support businesses that share their values and contribute to causes they care about. By aligning with charitable endeavors, businesses can foster stronger ties with their existing customers, encouraging them to choose their products or services over competitors.
  3. Positive Publicity and Media Coverage: Charitable campaigns often attract media attention, providing businesses with an opportunity for positive press coverage. This not only enhances their public image but can also lead to increased brand visibility and recognition.
  4. Employee Morale and Retention: Employees feel a sense of pride when their employer is involved in charitable activities. This boosts their morale, makes them feel good about their workplace, and can result in better job satisfaction and retention rates.
  5. Tax Benefits: Many jurisdictions offer tax deductions or benefits for charitable donations. Engaging in these activities can thus also be financially beneficial for businesses.
  6. Strengthening Community Ties: For local businesses, participating in charitable activities can cement their role as vital community members. This can lead to stronger community support and patronage, and create a network of local partners and collaborators.
  7. New Market Opportunities: Through charitable initiatives, businesses can sometimes tap into new markets or demographics, as they engage with different sections of the community or support specific causes.

By embracing charitable campaigns, especially around the holiday season, businesses can foster a spirit of giving and community involvement, all while reaping tangible and intangible benefits. Whether through financial donations, volunteer work, or partnerships with charitable organizations, businesses stand to gain immensely from these compassionate endeavors.

Ways Businesses Can Be Charitable Around the Holidays

holiday charity marketing tips



The holiday season is often synonymous with the spirit of giving and kindness. For businesses, it presents an opportune moment to engage in charitable activities, creating a positive impact on the community while also aligning with the festive sentiments. There are numerous ways businesses can integrate charitable acts into their holiday plans.

  1. Donation Drives: One of the most straightforward methods is to host donation drives. This could be for toys, food, clothing, or any other necessities. Employees and customers alike can contribute, fostering a sense of community and shared purpose.
  2. Monetary Donations: Businesses can allocate a portion of their holiday sales or profits to a specific charity. Alternatively, they can match donations made by employees or customers to double the impact.
  3. Volunteer Events: Organizing volunteer events, such as serving meals in local shelters, can be a powerful way for teams to bond while giving back. Not only does this provide direct assistance to those in need, but it also creates memorable experiences for participants.
  4. Gift Matching Programs: Businesses can set up programs where they match gifts or donations made by employees. This encourages more charitable giving, as employees know their contributions will have double the effect.
  5. Sponsorship of Local Events: Many communities host holiday events, parades, or festivals. By sponsoring these events, businesses can support local initiatives and ensure they can be carried out without financial strain.
  6. Provide Pro Bono Services: Depending on the nature of the business, offering free services to those in need can be incredibly beneficial. For example, a law firm might offer free legal consultations, or a restaurant might provide meals to the homeless.
  7. Collaborative Campaigns: Partnering with local charities or other businesses can amplify the effect of charitable activities. Joint campaigns can draw on the strengths and resources of all partners involved, making for a more effective initiative.

Embracing charitable endeavors during the holiday season not only aligns with the spirit of the season but also allows businesses to play a pivotal role in uplifting their communities. The collective efforts of businesses can lead to significant positive change, making the holiday period brighter and more meaningful for many.

Type of CampaignDescriptionBenefits to BusinessCommunity Impact
Donation DrivesCollect toys, food, clothing, or other necessities.Enhances company image, fosters community, and employee participation.Directly fulfills specific needs of the community.
Monetary DonationsDedicate a portion of sales or profits to a charity, or match customer/employee donations.Possible tax benefits, boosts brand loyalty, promotes corporate responsibility.Financial support to charities and causes.
Volunteer EventsOrganize events like serving at shelters or community clean-ups.Team bonding, positive public relations, employee satisfaction.Direct assistance and manpower to community projects.
Gift Matching ProgramsMatch donations made by employees.Encourages employee giving, boosts morale, promotes corporate responsibility.Doubles the financial support to charities.
Sponsorship of Local EventsSupport community events, parades, festivals.Brand visibility, aligns business with community values, potential customer outreach.Ensures local events can proceed, fosters community spirit.
Provide Pro Bono ServicesOffer free services depending on the business type.Establishes industry expertise, reinforces positive brand image, builds trust.Direct specialized support to those in need.
Collaborative CampaignsPartner with charities or other businesses for joint initiatives.Amplified resources, shared publicity, broader reach.Larger scale projects with compounded positive effects.

Holiday Charity Marketing Tips

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

holiday charity marketing tips



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

holiday charity marketing tips



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

holiday charity marketing tips



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.

Collaborate with Local Businesses

Partnering with local businesses can amplify your holiday charity marketing efforts. By collaborating, you can pool resources, reach a wider audience, and create larger-scale events or campaigns. For instance, a group of local businesses could organize a charity run or a holiday market, with proceeds going to a chosen charity.

This not only raises funds but also fosters community spirit. It’s an effective way to engage with customers, create a positive brand image, and make a more significant impact in your community.



Offer Matching Donations

Encourage customers to donate by committing to match their contributions up to a certain amount. This strategy can motivate your audience to participate, knowing their impact will be doubled.

For example, for every dollar a customer donates, your business could match it, thereby doubling the contribution to the charity. This not only drives donations but also demonstrates your commitment to the cause, enhancing your business’s social responsibility image.

Create Charity-themed Products

Develop special products or services where a portion of the proceeds goes to your chosen charity. This could be a limited edition product line or a holiday-themed service. For example, a bakery could create special holiday cookies, with part of the sales going to a local food bank.

It’s a win-win: customers get a unique product, and the proceeds support a good cause. This method can also increase customer engagement and sales during the holiday season.



Host an Online Fundraiser

Utilize digital platforms to host an online fundraising event, such as a virtual auction or a live-streamed charity concert. This approach allows you to reach a broader audience beyond your local community.

Online fundraisers can be interactive and engaging, offering opportunities for real-time donations. For instance, a virtual auction of donated items from local artists or businesses can create excitement and encourage participation.

Leverage Influencer Partnerships

Partner with influencers or local celebrities to promote your charity initiatives. Influencers can help spread the word to their followers, increasing visibility and participation. Choose influencers whose values align with your cause.

For example, a fitness influencer could help promote a charity run, while a food blogger could raise awareness for a food drive. Influencer partnerships can help you tap into new audiences and add credibility to your cause.



Incorporate Storytelling in Your Campaign

Use powerful storytelling to connect with your audience on an emotional level. Share stories about the individuals or communities your charity efforts will benefit. This could be through videos, blog posts, or social media stories.

For example, a business supporting a children’s hospital could share stories of the children’s journeys. Emotional storytelling can drive engagement and donations by making the cause relatable and personal.

Utilize Email Marketing

Send out a series of emails to your customers about your holiday charity initiatives. Email marketing can be a powerful tool to inform, engage, and encourage participation. Include compelling stories, details of the charity event, and how customers can contribute.

For example, an email campaign could consist of weekly updates on the fundraising progress, stories from the charity, and reminders of how to participate.



holiday charity marketing tips

Implementing these holiday charity marketing tips can significantly enhance your business’s social impact during the holiday season.

From collaborating with local businesses to leveraging digital platforms, these strategies can help increase engagement, foster community spirit, and make a meaningful contribution to your chosen cause.

Remember, the key to successful charity marketing is authenticity and alignment with your brand values. By genuinely caring and showing commitment to your cause, you can create a positive impact while also strengthening your brand image.

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.

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