Nov 1, 2012
Starting a business will result in many things, including telephone calls and letters from worthy causes asking you to support their organization with a charitable sponsorship. If you believe in giving back to the community like we do, one of the hardest challenges you’ll face as an entrepreneur is who exactly are you going to support.
When we started out, we didn’t have a plan. We evaluated each ask separately, which took time. We quickly figured out it was easier to ask for a company’s $5,000 for our charity of choice than it was to be on the other side of the coin and evaluate the “asks.”
Most of us are so busy running our businesses that the last thing we want to think about is strategy behind our charitable sponsorship support. But if you don’t put some thought behind it, you may find yourself donating more than your accountant would like you to.
Our advice would be to start out by looking at your financials and deciding how much per year you are willing to give – in-kind and/or in cash. Once you have your figure, whether its $200 or $200,000, think about how you want to spend it, create your plan and incorporate it as part of your marketing strategy.
Here are some things to consider when building your plan.
1. Is the organization a client? Support your clients! If the organization supports us, we look for ways to support them. If our client is on a board of an organization, we are more likely to support that organization as well.
2. Does someone in your company have a position on a non-profit board? Before you accept a committee or board appointment, remember, they expect you to support the organization financially. Some boards require a set annual commitment, others require you to purchase tickets to their gala events and offer significant time around various organizational activities. Do your research and make sure you can meet the financial commitment of the organization.
3. How does the charitable sponsorship help the business? This really could be an entire blog post of its own! Evaluate the benefits of the sponsorship and how they relate to your organization. How many people are attending? Do you get an exhibitor table at the event? Can you attend the event to network? Also, don’t hesitate to ask for something even if it’s not listed. Organizations don’t always know what we need as entrepreneurs, and when we ask, they are typically happy to deliver.
And leave yourself a little wiggle room to support that organization just because. At the end of the year, make sure to evaluate your charitable sponsorship activities. How successful were they for you? Would you do them again?