That dreaded phone call or email: ANOTHER nonprofit is calling upon you to sponsor their upcoming event, project or capital campaign. There are some very important reasons to take that call. Charitable giving can be a powerful marketing tool for your business while also benefiting a cause that is meaningful to you, the business owner.
Most corporations give to charity for one of three reasons: with philanthropic, feel-good intent; to support a cause they are passionate about or that aligns well with the mission of the company; or as part of the company’s overall marketing strategy. An ideal partnership can and should satisfy all three.
We all know that it feels good to donate to charity. Ideally, our donations make an immediate, lasting difference to the charity we are donating to. Whether through a donation of time, cash, or goods and services, the United States has an extremely philanthropic culture. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the U.S. donates over $135 billion annually to charitable causes. In fact, Florida ranks fourth in overall giving, exceeding $7 billion each year. Locally, the Gainesville metro area contributes over $85 million or 5.2 percent of median discretionary income — well over the nationwide average of 4.7 percent.
So how do you, the business owner, choose where to invest your charitable dollars? First, take a look at your personal passion, the mission of your business and where the two intersect. If you are a technology-based company, you might choose to invest in the technology needs of an organization that fits your personal passion, like electronic records for an animal rescue organization. Or, you could give to an organization that teaches school children, veterans or the homeless technological skills to make them better suited for the work force. According to the State of the Sector report published by the Nonprofit Center of North Central Florida in 2010, there are 340 nonprofit organizations in Alachua County working steadfastly to improve everything from the environment to the number of children who are abused each year in our community.
If you are passionate about available after-school care and gang prevention for youth, then the Boys and Girls Club, Reichert House or Girls Place might be a good fit for you. If child abuse prevention, intervention and response top your priority list, give the Child Advocacy Center, Pace Center for Girls or Children’s Home Society a visit. Is appropriate, affordable healthcare important to you? Look into our local ACORN clinic, the March of Dimes or the Sebastian Ferrero Foundation. My point is this: If you have a personal passion or a corporate mission, there is a nonprofit in our community that is working towards that end.
To truly hit a home run with your company’s charitable giving, there must also be significant marketing advantages associated with your sponsorship. Aside from a tax deduction or write-off, nonprofits can offer unique marketing opportunities for your business. Sponsorships offer your business the chance to create or develop credibility and brand recognition, target specific market segments, garner positive media exposure, and generate new sales or business partnerships with other sponsors and supporters of the cause. Nonprofits can offer your business recognition in printed materials through radio and television advertising, on social media, and through signage, booths, giveaways or even time to speak at events. There are very few other marketing opportunities that can offer such broad reach while also promoting your business as one that is community-minded. It’s important to pay close attention to the sponsor benefits that nonprofits attach to your contribution. Be sure to negotiate for those benefits that are most important to your company, and communicate about your goals and expectations.
When your passion, your company’s mission and your strategic marketing plan all meet to benefit one of the 340 nonprofits sustained locally, we all win.Biography Margot Wilder is the director of development for the Child Advocacy Center in Gainesville and has almost seven years of experience in nonprofit fundraising. Ms. Wilder holds both a Master of Business Administration and an undergraduate degree in event management from the University of Florida.