The Power of Giving to Grow Your Business

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There’s a warm feeling that comes with giving back. It’s similar to a runner’s high that triggers when we feel more connected with our community and helping others locally and globally with causes small and those much larger than us. 

That feeling can drive growth for your business because giving is about connection. And connection is how you broader your target audience and convert them into customers.

There are many ways to give back, and businesses can benefit in earnest and organic ways that only compound that warm feeling.

Giving is a core belief at Carter & Custer. Our founder, Jim Carter III has long believed in the tenet of making a difference through service. He passionately supports causes that resonate with him like Pencils of Promise, an organization dedicated to achieving quality education for children all over the world. 

And Jim doesn’t stop with his own giving, he encourages the whole Carter & Custer to find a cause that lights them up inside and support them in any way they can.

Regardless of how you give back, your donation matters to those who receive it.

Create More Than a Giving Initiative

A charitable initiative provides two simple benefits: One is the betterment of donation’s focused community, and the other is the internal pride and joy of having a larger purpose and supporting a greater good it provides to employees.

These are not benefits to look down on. However, there is more that comes from a giving initiative without having to sacrifice either of them.

Instead of company-wide initiatives that often have mixed levels of participation, build an environment that supports any cause a staff member opts to support.

Foster a time during weekly or monthly team meetings for employees to speak about a cause they are passionate about and what endeavor they are doing to support it. This could be team members participating in charity runs, golf tournaments, or simply donating clothing. 

Allow them to own the charitable planning and execution for their cause. The more team members see support from coworkers and management; the more likely they are to feel empowered to speak up about cause. As a result, they might also be more likely to speak up about an idea that solves a workflow issue or generates new leads.

These actions develop a stronger connection between the company and each other. And the more satisfied your employees are as a whole, the more that will shine through in value-added to your business.

Always keep this in mind while you foster a giving culture in your organization — support inspires growth.

Build Charity into Your Business 

There are some great companies that use their charitable aim as part of their overall business model. Toms, the shoe and apparel company, is a pioneer in the “buy one, give one” brand model that centers around charitable giving.

While it may not be feasible to work charity into the DNA of your business, it is possible to make it a feature of your marketing campaigns.

A great example would be to link different causes to featured products so that each sales campaign for that line includes donations to a particular cause. 

Once you’ve repeated this process for multiple projects, you can begin creating thought leadership content around your charitable focus. This will help build reader’s trust in you and deepen customer support for your brand through the link between your charity and your sales in a positive way. 

Positive self-promotion can lead to a deeper connection within a demographic that was outside of your typical customer base, and it can also lead to new growth opportunities from other organizations.

Leverage Company Action

Focus charity on your customer’s desires first if you want to learn more about them and increase your bottom line.

Promoting a matching campaign based on your customers’ selection of a charity or cause is an excellent, customer-focused giving strategy. During the giving campaign, you can match the customer donations dollar for dollar to deepen the connection with your customers.

An easy way to increase the success of the donation drive is by building awareness first. Create a campaign that automatically portions a percentage of each sale toward that charity or cause and run ads or promotions to reach the customers about your giving goal. This strategy gives customers transparency into your messaging and lets them feel more a part of a solution.

You can also hold a social media and online voting period where people write in or select from a long list of worthy organizations and causes to choose where the money will eventually go. Then host a donation period where customers can donate directly, and then you simply match the final number. 

Hosting matching campaigns will build awareness of your business, especially if it is a local cause or group. Additionally, you can use it to leverage new names for your email list and increase the reach of your social media channels through gated forms and landing pages.

As you draw focus toward your matching campaigns and giving-based marketing strategies, you will deepen your connection with your customer base. Over time, these efforts will deliver organic growth.

It Pays to Proudly Support

There is legitimacy in logos and branding.

“Affiliation” is marketing talk for mutually beneficial relationships between businesses and charities. Choosing to affiliate your business with a partner charity aligns your business with an organization that supports a cause of mutual interest.

You often pay for the right to use the organization’s logo and branding materials across your channels to become a proud sponsor of that group and can benefit from its reach.

This affiliation can be used as part of your overall sponsorship plan to indicate what you stand for and connect with the various demographics that also support them. It’s like being let into a club, and you’re letting everyone know that supporting you is also supporting the club.

Health organizations and mental health organizations are great examples of causes that you can team up with, and partnering with them will help you reach a broader audience while supporting a cause that is close to your business.

How to Partner with a Charity

When your business is still small and growing, it can be hard to get on the radar of a major charitable organization.

One thing to keep in mind is proving your value to them. How does partnering with you increase their reach?

Regardless of your size, think of ways in which your customer base is a dedicated one, and provide data points that illustrate the reach your base has across social media. You can lean on your social media tools to provide information on impressions and engagement rates. 

Create value by connecting with your target audience and use it to show the larger charity organizations that, even if small, your committed customers will spread the word.

When it comes to getting the word out, one committed supporter is worth ten passive ones.

Make Yourself Part of Your Story

There is a reason the adage about turning lemons into lemonade has withstood the test of time – it’s because it’s loaded in truth. And for entrepreneurs, it can be an integral part of your brand voice and mission, even if the lemon has little to do with the type of business you are building.

Everyone wants to support a good cause, but people want to see the connection between the sponsor and cause to give their donation more of a face. The struggles and tribulations that you overcame to get your business off the ground can be turned around to support a worthwhile cause, and that dark period can become a pillar of good for your business.

Take a stand, tell your story, and witness the benefit of empowering yourself. It can inspire your team and have ripple effects beyond traditional return on investment. 

Give back to show that what you’ve been through can be a pillar of hope and that it doesn’t have to weigh you down or hold your business back. 

Invest in the Community

Growing businesses must have an excellent local base of customers, even if your business primarily exists online — the community where your office is located is worth being active within.

A great strategy is to pair with other local businesses to support local charitable organizations and causes. 

One area always needs support and can provide a grateful and supportive support system: nearby schools. Grade schools through high schools in many communities are often underfunded in one way or another. Since your giving supports both the students and their families, it’s an opportunity with a lot of benefits.

Becoming a partner sponsor of school events or donation drives can go a long way in increasing your awareness within your community and building trust among them.

Beyond the growth opportunity, providing support to help kids in a way that really impacts their lives is heroic. Even if it’s something like an annual drive for kids’ backpacks full of school supplies, it will brighten the spirits of you and your employees. And there’s no telling how far those rewards will go.

Support the Graduating Class

Another way to give back within your community is to support a scholarship for graduating high school seniors in your community. It doesn’t have to be for a massive amount, but it’s a way to have your business name out there frequently.

Some businesses already have learned that offering smaller scholarships that you award throughout the year is a neat way to maintain a robust stream of publicity for your business.

When you tie your name to the scholarship, it’s like discounted marketing. Every time the scholarship is mentioned, so are you. Depending on your type of business, you can creatively promote your scholarship to bring in new customer prospects. 

Scholarships are not the typical option businesses think of when developing giving strategies, but the tremendous impact they can have on a person’s life make them more than worth exploring.

Bring the Donation Box Inside

There’s a real uptick in your internal spirit when you see how dedicated your team and company at large are to charity — that feeling could end wars and would make someone a billion dollars if they could bottle and sell it.

Donation campaigns and pledge drives are excellent ways to help manufacture that feeling within your company and begin to ingrain it as part of your company culture.

Instead of cardboard boxes for staff to put canned and dry goods in, have the local food pantry come in and set up a donation container, and have them come back weekly to pick it up. You can do the same for clothing or school supply drives.

Having the boxes there and seeing the team fill them inspires others to participate, and it only furthers that connection when drive-related staff collects the donations. 

The new digital normal has created a new challenge for typical donation boxes with  so many of us coming into the office either not at all, or only just a few times a week. 

For those working a hybrid model, the physical charity box becomes even more crucial to building connection within your team. Remote offices can arrange drives around company headquarters and send regular photo emails to all employees to keep them engaged and feeling part of the giving goals.

It’s like putting a face on the campaign.

Coupons for Giving

Who doesn’t like getting a deal and helping someone out at the same time? 

Coupon code donation campaigns automate a donation to a chosen charity while saving people money at your business. This dual incentive will give value to current customers and new customers alike. 

Current customers will continue to build their trust in you, and new customers who discover you via this campaign will already see your business as one that aligns with them.

If you advertise the coupon through targeted social media, you will increase the reach potential, which benefits you and that charity.

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