Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Why Supporting Charities Can be Good For Business

Design by Tope Abulude, CBA
For the past five years, a group of excited balloon professionals have gathered at a London hotel to decorate a party. This a very special party. It is for children who are being treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH). GOSH is a very special hospital, the children treated there are mostly referred there by other U.K. hospitals offering care to children and young people with rare, complex, and difficult-to-treat conditions. The balloon professionals that attend travel from all over the U.K. and would not miss this day for the world! So why do they do it?


Daffodil Sculpture by
Chris Adamo for
Cancer Council.
Working for a charity and non-profit organisations can be very rewarding. Apart from the feel-good factor of supporting charities, working with non-profits could help boost your business' network and company image.

Companies can do this in so many ways: offering to raise income, gifts in kind, pro bono support, and volunteers for a cause. 


As a balloon company, we can offer balloons or decorate an event. 


When I first started my balloon business, I found it very difficult to know how to work with all the charity requests that I was getting. I am sure that many of you have found yourself in a similar situation.


I asked a few fellow balloon professionals their thoughts on working with charities and non-profit organisations.


"We support local charities and anything that I personally have an affinity with. To be more precise if a local school or charity wants something —less than a few hundred Australian dollars at retail price — I will often say 'Yes.' I feel good about helping, and that investment ALWAYS pays off. Locals want to support local — especially if they know we support them, said Chris Adamo, CBA, of Balloons Online, Sydney, Australia. 


"When I say local, that has to be within a few minutes drive — Sydney is a big place.  Anyone more distant, I will offer DIY materials at cost price. I don't want to make a profit from a 'not-for-profit' organisation. I personally do one large project for one of Australia's larger charities, Cancer Council. I have been doing it for years. It feels great being able to help, and in return, they have put me in touch with the corporate sector. Business is all about relationships and trust. Working with charities is a fast track to that process. It also gives you a blank canvas to try a new product, style, or technique."




When I ran my home-based balloon business, I also supported one main charity each year by decorating their big fund-raising event. As a small business, I was unable to give the decor for free as my funds would not permit this. However, my solution was to sell the decor at cost. For anyone who uses a Job Cost Form, you will know that your cost includes materials, labour costs, and expenses. Therefore, I did not make any profit from the event, but it meant that I could afford the materials and to pay those helping me on the day. I felt that it was important that the charity knew the true value of decor that they were receiving. When I sent the invoice, I would show the full cost of the decor, and then I would show how much discount they would be getting. It is important that they understand the full value of the decor that you are providing for their event.

Joette Giardina of Balloon Coach says, "In a previous career as a social worker for a non-profit organization, I knew how much we counted on the generosity of others to provide services to our clients. So when I started my balloon business, I felt it important to offer a discount to non-profits for our services to be able to still make a profit for the company and to help the community.

As business owners, we can give back to the community in several ways. One is to serve on the board of a local charity to give of our time to help plan and promote a fundraiser
This did two things for me. It got me in a room with other business leaders from my area that I would have not met otherwise. They appreciated that I gave up my time to help the organization and in return, referred people to me to purchase decor for other events outside of the event we worked on.

I see a lot of talk on balloon groups that say giving "FREE" decor to a company just brings more free work, and from my experience, I disagree with that. It's all about how you set it up. I am of the mindset that it is important to be a part of my community and to give back as I can to those who need it. When deciding to give my time or work, I think it's  key that my heart needs to be in it, and not to do it just because someone asked for something free. Support a charity that you can really support because it's a cause or organization you care about.

As a business owner, you can choose one charity a year that you support — or multiple —based on your finances. That way I can say, 'We are a small business, and as such, we have a charity that we give to annually.'  But we like to help the other wonderful non-profits, so we can extend a 10% discount for your event."

Joette has written a great article on this subject: 5 Tips to Creating Sales When Non-Profits Call Your Balloon Company Asking For Donations. 

Turning a Freebee into Free Publicity — Samuel Stamp-Dod, CBA, of VIP Balloons in Ipswich, U.K.

"I’m sure I’m not alone in constantly being asked to support charities with free balloons for their events, and, while we cannot always afford to do so, sometimes these opportunities can be used to our advantage as well as the charities.

If you think about how much it would cost to place an advert in your local paper, it can often be hundreds of pounds and have little effect.  However, all newspapers want stories and pictures. So turning a charitable donation into a story, everyone wins: the charity, the newspaper, and you!

I find if you provide the photos and write the editorial for them, they are much more likely to publish the story.  Think about the stories that the paper will be interested in. Often this is by keeping it local: the charity, the event, and you - the local balloon company.  Read the stories that your paper publishes and write in their style. This way you are much more likely to get it published.

I found a great post written by Nelson James, CEO of Signs.com - 6 Ways to Promote Your Company’s Charitable Works. Rather than re-post the whole article, I have selected some of his top tips.


Giving back to the community means benefits for both charities and the businesses that support them. Using marketing to promote charitable works can work well for companies. But it’s important that this kind of marketing doesn’t come across as self-serving. 

Promote through Social Media Channels

You can use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram to promote your company’s charitable works and engage the community at the same time. 


Your social media profiles already create a sense of shared experience with your customers, you’ll be able to show customers that you truly care about the charities you support.

Put articles on your blog and website
Write an article for your company’s blog, or create a “community” section on your site that provides details about your favorite causes. Instead of splashing your latest good deed all over your homepage, simply draw site visitors to those pages through a small banner that says, “We support This Charity… click here to find out how you can help, too!” Provide a specific call to action that allows customers to join you in your efforts.

Post in-store signage

Use signage to remind customers about the causes you support. But instead of loudly proclaiming, “Look What We’re Doing!” create signs that give customers a way to help. You might develop a campaign that provides a specific donation for every sale, or asks customers to donate directly.

Volunteer time and effort
They say actions speak louder than words. So get out there and act already! Volunteer time in addition to money. Include employees and customers for a day of charitable giving by issuing invitations and putting up signage to advertise the event. Don’t forget to include signage at the volunteer location, too.


Choose just a few charities and participate in a meaningful way
Some companies mistakenly think that if one charity makes them look good, a dozen will make them look even better. This method can backfire—it appears that you’re just collecting as many charities as you can in order to promote yourself. Instead, choose just two or three charities that you truly care about, and participate in meaningful way. Instead of giving twelve charities $100, give one charity $1200.

Marketing shouldn’t be the impetus for giving; your customers see right through your ulterior motives and are turned away by your insincerity. A true, sincere desire to help people in need comes first; capitalizing on the market value of charity is a secondary perk. Promote your company’s good works in a way that is designed to help the charity more than the company, and you’ll do both.

Wow, what a fabulous article, I wish I had some of Nelson James' advice when I started my business!

There is some truly great advice in this post for those of you who are unsure how to work with charities and non-profit organisations. You might decide that in 2018 you will find a wonderful local charity and drive all your efforts in their direction rather than waiting for them to find you.

A huge thank you to Chris, Joette, and Samuel for their invaluable advice.

Happy Ballooning!

Sue
www.suebowler.com

















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