In Do You Want Passion or Profit? Why Not Both?, I explained that we all have the choice to run our businesses anyway you want, including trying to do a little good. In Increase Sales by Supporting Social and Environmental Causes, I took social responsibility a little further saying:
“With a clear social agenda and a clear message, it’s time to create content that supports your new marketing strategy. And don’t be afraid to say it’s a marketing strategy because it definitely is. It’s not a ploy to get sales because you actually believe in your causes.”
Now it’s time to put our good intentions into action. If you're hesitant or think it will take too much time and money, here’re a few easy ways to promote your business while supporting good causes.
You don’t need to create a huge fundraising event or donate a large sum to get started. You could do something as simple as choosing a cause and promoting it on your social media channels. Or you could have something printed with a special message and start handing items out at your business, tradeshows, networking events, etc.
In How To Fight For Ovarian Cancer Awareness, author Billie Jean Bateson says:
“Over 20,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year, and half of them do not survive. Customized ovarian cancer wristbands can show support for a woman battling ovarian cancer, or can be used to promote general awareness.”
Create an infographic that shares helpful information about a cause you support. Share it on your social channels. Tag those who may share your passion and try to connect with nonprofits who also support your cause. You’ll get more social shares and the good PR may lead to networking and sales opportunities.
Adopt an Endangered Animal
We recently had a blast symbolically adopting an Amur Leopard through the World Wildlife Fund. We started with a Facebook post where our followers could vote on the animal they would like to adopt. I also shared videos and statistics for each animal.
- Amur Leopard: only 30 individuals are thought to exist
- White-cheeked Gibbon: threatened by habitat loss and hunting (declined by at least 80% over the past 45 years)
- Bactrian Camel: less than 1000 in the wild
- Sumatran Rhino: approximately 300 individuals currently existing in the wild
And I wasn’t surprised when the Amur Leopard won by landslide. Although the four animals I chose are on the critically endangered list, the Amur Leopard only has the lowest population and they are pretty cute.
And using Canva, I created new Facebook headers and other posts celebrating our pick and sharing a bit of good news. The Amur Tiger was actually saved from extinction which gives us hope that our small contribution can help.
The entire project, including creating graphics, took less than two hours. This is a simple, community/brand building strategy that allows my business to make a difference.
Make Smart Donations
Everyone thinks the self-employed are super rich. At least that’s what it seems like.
In the past week, I’ve been approached to sponsor a table at a local political event, asked to donate to a family that’s lost everything in a fire, and to donate gift certificates for a charity auction.
This happens all the time. And I’d be broke if I actually gave money to each charity or cause that asked. Some businesses have policies to handle the overwhelming requests. However, we came up with a solution a long time ago. We give away gift certificates to classes we are already teaching, so the only thing we are giving away is our time. That works for us and it’s tax deductible.
Other businesses have a budget, say $500 a year, and give a set amount (like $20) until the money is gone. Some only give to certain causes and make that clear (including sending out letters stating their policies and why they can’t give to all causes). And some businesses, like Starbucks, donates all their unsold food products in a program called Food Share.
Think about your specific business and what you could donate that would do some good and be a smart business move. Come up with a policy that has good PR potential and makes you feel good about how much difference one small business can make.
Be the Change You Want to See
As business owners, we have the chance to be leaders in our communities. People look to us to help, especially contributing to the communities that support our businesses. It’s a great responsibility but can also be a huge opportunity for your business.
You don’t need to be an activist or adopt the “buy one, give one” business model. You just need to be passionate and dedicated in a genuine way. Save the whales, fight for clean water, donate mosquito nets, or raise money to repair a local landmark.
This is your business’s opportunity to be the change you want to see in the world.