As a business owner, you know how important supporting your community is. It shows that your business cares about its customers, and can also build brand awareness and loyalty among your customers. As a result, a community giveback program allows you to support your community through financial donations, free services or resources, and free items.
These programs can benefit many people in your community, especially if your business has strength in numbers. You can do more with your program by rallying your employees, customers, and other community members, even as a small, local business. To gain the support of your community, however, you’ll need to spread the word about your giveback program with a compelling promotional strategy.
These four strategies can help you build a giveback program that will motivate your community to come together:
- Choose an engaging idea.
- Optimize your CSR program.
- Emphasize your brand.
- Partner with other community-based organizations.
You know how important marketing is for your various business initiatives. However, before you jump into leveraging graphic design strategies or identifying a target audience, you’ll need to choose an engaging appeal idea. Let’s get started!
1. Choose an engaging idea.
When outlining a marketing strategy, the first consideration is to choose a compelling reason why supporters should give. From there, develop an equally clear way to get involved. For example, instead of simply asking if your customers want to round up their bill to support a cause at check-out, you could hold an engaging 5K race event at your running store that makes participation more exciting.
Here are a few engaging ideas you can use to encourage participation:
- Shoe recycling program. According to Sneakers4Funds’ guide to recycling running shoes, shoe recycling programs are a great way to keep sneakers out of landfills, give them a second life, and raise funds that benefit your community. To launch this program, partner with a social enterprise facilitator (like Sneakers4Funds), set out free collection materials around your community, and ask supporters to contribute their new, used and gently worn running shoes. Then, you’ll send off the collected sneakers in the mail and receive a check once they are processed.
- Host a corporate giving event. Set up a fun corporate giving event like a raffle or silent auction at your business. Depending on your cause, you might ask employees and other participants to contribute relevant items or financial contributions to your cause. Events are also a great way to cap off long-running giveback programs to bring together all of your supporters who generously contribute to the cause.
- Sponsor a specific beneficiary. Giving your community a chance to support a particular beneficiary can make the impact of their donation feel much more concrete. If you’re gathering resources for an animal shelter, you might post flyers at your business with names and pictures of the specific cats and dogs the gifts will benefit. You can even reach out to local running clubs or schools to ask about sponsoring runners or student-athletes.
Developing your marketing strategy will be much easier with the right idea to drive your community giveback program. An exciting opportunity to support the local community will encourage more customer participation with less heavy lifting from your marketing strategy.
2. Optimize your CSR program.
In addition to planning exciting, one-time events, your company can boost its impact by starting a CSR program or improving your existing one.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) refers to the responsibility that businesses have to promote social good, which often involves making donations to or volunteering with charitable organizations. While events that benefit a specific cause or organization are great for generating a spike in funding on shorter notice, CSR initiatives provide sustainable revenue to nonprofits throughout the year.
To maximize your business’s impact on its community, consider implementing these strategies when starting or optimizing a CSR program:
- Offer diverse ways to support charitable causes. Not every supporter of nonprofits is strictly a financial donor—some may volunteer, give free items or services, or contribute in multiple ways. Boost their impact by offering a variety of CSR initiatives ranging from matching gifts to volunteer grants to in-kind donation drives. This also ensures that you are meeting local organizations’ needs, whether they are looking to increase volunteer hours or need an influx of cash.
- Create clear guidelines. Most businesses have requirements and stipulations for which causes they’ll support, as well as how much support they can contribute. For example, you may have a list of pre-approved causes or organizations that you will match gifts to, along with minimum and maximum donation amounts. Make sure to clearly define and share these requirements ahead of time with your employees to ensure they select causes that your business will help them support.
- Focus on engaging employees. In addition to sharing about the guidelines and processes of your CSR program, make an effort to encourage employees to take action. Offer incentives and give positive feedback to those who participate. Additionally, you can invest in an employee engagement tool that allows you to track donations, accept matching gift requests, and measure your overall impact to encourage their continued support.
- Provide team-building opportunities. Your employees may be more likely to participate in volunteer days or fundraisers if their peers are also joining in. You could even take time out of the workday to volunteer with a community-based organization as a company or foster friendly competition with a teamwide peer-to-peer fundraising challenge. Frame these events as a fun way to strengthen your company culture, get to know fellow employees and leadership in a casual setting, and come together to support a worthy cause.
To avoid alienating anyone, remember to strike a balance between supporting causes that align with your company’s values and those of your employees. Before supporting any one cause or organization as a company, make sure you have a strong understanding of employees’ interests and opinions and that you’ve thoroughly researched the cause or nonprofit.
Powering your program with software
Running CSR initiatives can be time-consuming, but these days, companies can’t ignore their duty to give back. Like many aspects of your business, technology can help launch and manage your CSR program. The right corporate giving software can help you:
- Engage employees in workplace giving with matching gift capabilities, employee donation management, and volunteer management.
- Donate to nonprofits and manage grants to give back to organizations and those in need.
- Set CSR goals, whether related to sustainability, community engagement, or corporate donations.
- Track your impact with robust reporting capabilities, whether you want to report on donations, volunteer hours, employee participation, or something else.
In essence, CSR software serves as a valuable resource for companies to manage, monitor, and enhance their initiatives. It facilitates data-driven decision-making, promotes transparency, and engages employees. In turn, leveraging this type of software will enable your company to grow its impact on society.
3. Emphasize your brand.
Let’s say you create a few flyers and posters about your giveback program to hang up around your community. However, you neglect to add essential branded elements like your logo. Because customers and other community members may not recognize that your business is associated with the program, you might not get the participation you want.
By emphasizing your brand within ads and promotions for your giveback program, you can increase participation in the program and build brand awareness all at once. This is because your already-loyal customer base has learned to trust your brand, so using it will help you leverage the trust you’ve already built in the community.
Here are a few ways your can infuse your branding into giveback program promotions:
- Choose a cause that aligns with your brand. If possible, tie the cause you’re supporting back to your brand. If you own a running store, you might ask your employees and customers to bring in their gently worn, used and new running shoes and explain how they will go on to benefit economies in developing nations.
- Incorporate branded elements into promotional materials. Easy ways to communicate your brand include using your brand colors, adding your slogan, and prominently featuring your business’s name and logo. Strive to keep your branding consistent across all promotional materials, whether on social media, flyers, or direct mail ads.
- Consider distributing free items. Offer small gifts to anyone who participates in your program to incentivize engagement. These gifts could be items like stickers or keychains with your store’s name or logo.
Remember that at the end of the day, these promotional materials are meant to encourage people to participate in your giveback program. Avoid being too promotional of your business or pushing people to purchase from you. Instead, shape your primary message around highlighting the cause and the opportunity to contribute to it with your business’s brand in the backdrop.
4. Partner with other community-based organizations.
You’ll need to reach new audiences to get the most out of your advertising efforts. Work with other prominent organizations in your community to leverage their experience with fundraising and their pool of loyal supporters. This can also help spread awareness about your giveback efforts if it’s your business’s first time launching one of these programs.
To get started, consider partnering with organizations such as:
- Local nonprofits
- After-school programs
- Charity rides, races, and walks
Choose your partner based on how closely their mission relates to your program’s cause, then reach out to those you think will be a good fit. Send an email, make a phone call, or drop off your business card during an in-person meeting. Be sure to communicate the benefits of the partnership to the other organization. For example, they may be receiving additional funds or items collected through the program, and they’ll have access to your customers just as you’ll have access to their supporters.
Start Prioritizing Your Community Giveback Efforts.
Giving back to the community that supports your business can be incredibly rewarding, especially when you see your giveback program’s direct impact. Whether you’re donating running shoes or sponsoring a charity run, working to benefit your community can encourage loyal customer support for years to come. Not to mention, you’ll position your company as a rewarding place to work, helping to attract and retain top talent.
No matter how you give back to your community, you can’t ignore this type of program’s immense impact on your brand’s reputation. With everything we’ve covered in mind, start planning your community giveback program today.