There are lots of great ways to give back all year round.
Each of these represents an opportunity to generate excitement around the cause you’re supporting. Use these tips to engage your customers with the causes near and dear to the heart of your community.
Donate a percentage of sales from a given weekend. As with many things in life, the simplest solution can be one of the most effective. It may seem old-fashioned or out of date, but it’s time-tested and it delivers results. Have a donation jar on the counter as a quiet reminder of the cause.
Make Donating Easy
At Myriad Games, we added a non-inventory item in MerchantOS for each of our charities (Extra Life, Toys for Tots, Games for Troops, Child’s Play, Games in Education, and Community Support) so that folks can add any amount of donation to their purchase anytime. They can pay with any of our usual payment methods and we donate the full amount to the charity (we pay the payment processing fees as part of our support for these great causes).
Host Special Events
We hosted a 24-hour game marathon for Extra Life (www.Extra-Life.org) that raises funds for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals in your local area. This year, the combined Extra Life community raised over 1.1 MILLION DOLLARS! We didn’t just put up a placard and say “Hey, come play games and give some money to kids.” We made it a big event. We promoted it months in advance. We brought in special guests from around the country. We brought in breakfast for folks who made it through the long night. We helped people share their excitement and get others involved.
Demonstrate Your Dedication
Show people that you’re not just asking them to give money. You’re supporting the cause as well. We donate a percentage of the sales from all our special events to charity, in addition to what’s donated by the participants in the event. We match donation purchases to Toys for Tots each year (if you purchase a $25 game, we donate another $25 of games). Do whatever you can to demonstrate your dedication to the cause and show people that you’re stepping up with support on top of their donations.
Don’t Be Afraid To Market
Apply all the same principles of marketing and promotion that you use for your business to generating interest and revenue for charities that support your community. Create campaigns for each special event, use promotional tools and assets provided by the charity, and find a solid message that you can share to inspire people to get involved. For Extra Life, for instance, their slogan is “Play Games – Heal Kids”. That gets great results because it’s a message everyone can get behind. Highlight and share personal stories from your local community members to demonstrate how this cause affects them.
Focus For Best Results
Focus on one charity, one cause, one event at a time. We rotate the focus of our community cause throughout the year. Around the holidays, when everyone is in gift-giving mode, we focus on Toys for Tots. Around back-to-school time, we focus on Games In Education. Keep the focus fresh.
Tell People You’re Donating
If you don’t tell people that you’re donating to great causes, they’re much less likely to join you in supporting those causes. So be loud and proud about donating your time, money, and energy to causes you believe in. This includes telling suppliers, business associates, your local congregations, contacts in the local media, and anyone else who’s within earshot. Make sure you’re heaping adulation on how awesome your community is, rather than bragging about your own contributions.
Say Thank You
Never forget to say thank you. Then say it again, and again. Recognize how awesome it is for people to give of themselves to help others and then congratulate them for being so awesome. This goes doubly for your staff and key volunteers who put in extra effort to make these causes a priority.
So, take these tips and run with them. Start small. Pick something you love, and champion it. Engage and involve your customers and your entire community. You’ll be better for it, your business will benefit from the excitement and association, and you’ll be making a difference in your community. It’s win, win, win, all around!