What’s so great about fundraising? Perhaps the better question is, What isn’t great about it? Fundraising is the perfect opportunity to give something meaningful back to the community and a viable means of making a difference in other people’s lives. But fundraising provides even greater benefits than you may think.
Did you know that the philanthropic spirit can be used to grow your business? It may sound funny, but fundraising is actually on trend. Let's start with Millennials (born between 1982-2004), who definitely understand the beauty of giving to others. In fact, millennials often seek out businesses affiliated with charitable causes. According to the Millennial Impact Report by research group Achieve, about 84% of millennials made charitable donations last year, and 70% spent at least an hour volunteering. This group typically has huge student loan debt, yet it doesn’t stop them from opening up their wallets (or PayPal accounts, or Apple Pay).
Today’s fundraising goes beyond writing a check to a local charity or picking up a couple of boxes of Thin Mints (though those contributions count, too). It is about raising social awareness for worthy causes, often accomplished through social media networks. One of the best examples is the 2014 ALS Association Ice Bucket Challenge, in which millions of people shared videos of themselves dumping ice buckets on their heads to raise a reported $100 million nationally for the non-profit.
Corporate fundraising is quickly gaining momentum, where businesses are seeking ways to become more socially responsible. It is paying off in a number of ways besides the obvious. Some studies have even shown that businesses who partner with charitable causes have an employee base that’s more engaged overall. Now, that’s what I call a win-win!
Are you ready to flourish with fundraising? Here are some ideas to get your business rolling on the charitable bandwagon.
You’ve probably been to a silent auction or two. In case your haven't, attendees can bid on a number of products, services and experiences, and the highest bidder wins. But you may have thought that only established businesses were in a position to donate to silent actions, and that donations had to be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars.
On the contrary, most silent auctions offer both big and small items. Haven’t been approached yet by a non-profit for a donation? Don’t wait for them to find you. Research calendars of all local charity events. If they’ve scheduled a silent auction, contact them to donate a few facials, for example, valued at $100 each. Even if the winner bids only $60, it benefits the charity, and you get a new client.
Utilize Established Charitable Promotions
Tie in a special promotion for your business with a charitable cause that’s already been established. For example, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so let clients know that10% of their total bill will be donated to the Susan G. Komen Foundation during October.
Another way to do this is by introducing yourself to the HR department of a large company such as Nordstrom, Starbucks, etc. Find out which charities the company regularly supports and choose one or two that mean something to you. Ask if your spa/services can be included in their next company newsletter and a portion of any service purchased as a result of that mention will be donated to the company’s charity(ies). Let your existing clients know which charities you’re supporting, and which of your treatments are tagged for donations to those causes. When clients see you’re working with recognized corporations to do good things, it lends credibility to your contributions.
Everyone Loves a Coupon Book
The coupon books sold by thousands of local schools and community groups for discounts to local businesses are an excellent way to help raise money and gain nearly instant exposure to potential clients.
Another way to do it is by creating your own coupon book, say, $1,000 worth of your services for only $100, then give all or a portion of the proceeds to your favorite charity. You could also enlist high school kids to sell coupons for your services, with the first treatment offered as free, and proceeds from the value of that treatment going to their school. Though you won’t make much money on these fundraisers (or any, if you donate everything), you just might gain lots of new clients.
Thinking Outside the Charitable Box
Think of your own ways to use social media for fundraising. Perhaps you could offer a $100 facial with a “Find a Cure for Cancer” promotion, in which a 50% donation is made to the American Cancer Society for anyone who posts it on Facebook. It might even go viral. The more attention you can draw to a charity you believe in, the better it is for them and for you. With a little creativity and good intentions, fundraising can become FUNdraising, with a flourish.
Top Three Tips for Flourishing with Fundraising
1. Include your info. Include your logo and business contact information on everything you donate, whether it is a certificate for a service to a silent auction or a social media promotion supporting a specific charity.
2. Talk it up. The only way clients will know your business is philanthropically minded is if you tell them about it. This isn’t bragging. It is giving them the chance to join in on your enthusiasm for a great cause.
3. Entice. While lots of people are willing to give to others, as a business owner or employee asking for their participation in a charitable donation, you need to include something to entice them into giving. For example, a 10% discount, one free service, their name printed on a giving list, etc.