Aligning your brand with a charity, more than just PR
Let's face it, people like to associate themselves with businesses and brands that support causes. October was Breast Cancer awareness month and everyone everywhere was out buying products covered in pink.
We attended a Cancer Council fund raising event at Aqua Dining. The owners of the Ripples and Aqua Dining restaurants organised an amazing series of breakfasts raising over $100,000 for the Cancer Council.
Not only did Aqua Dining align their brand to a cause and raise crucial money for research, they cemented their own brand as socially responsible.
So how can you align your brand to a charity or cause?
Do it for the right reasons.
When embarking on a charity initiative, consider the sort of giving that you'd like to be involved in and why you're doing it. If corporate charity is undertaken as an obligation or as a means of self-promotion, this will show through in your efforts, and no matter how great your giving, it will be seen as less than sincere.
Pick a charity or cause that means something to you.
The organisation you choose need not be directly related to the work your business does or be a nationally or internationally recognised group/cause. Get together with your staff and discuss the various organisations and causes that mean something to you and that you are best able to help with your [limited] resources and time.
While alignment with a charity from the same industry as your business (for instance if you're in the health industry, working with a children's health group) does provide a certain synergy, if it better suits your needs, your giving can be as simple as helping out the local animal shelter.
Research the cause.
Once you have selected the charity or cause you wish to support, it is important that you research the group you choose to ensure that their objectives and needs don't conflict with your own business objectives, and that there are clear opportunities for you to help.
Don't just donate money.
There are many ways that a company can contribute to its chosen charity or cause. Many local level organisations have a greater need for donated goods and services, or for people able to volunteer for a couple of hours each month than they do for a straight cash donation.
Your business may sell a product or service that the charity needs that you can either donate entirely, or offer at a discounted rate. You may be able to help by selling a selection of the charities branded merchandise at your office reception.
Your next team building activity day can be coupled together with a volunteer working-bee at your charity. You may also help by organising or sponsoring a fundraising event, or running a garage sale to raise funds or a donation-drive to collect much needed goods.
Contact the charity and they will usually be able to advise what you may be able to donate or how best you can help.
Ask the charity to partner.
A strategic partnership built over time, where the business and charity promote the relationship reciprocally, is more powerful than a one off instance of giving. Through continued involvement both organisations are exposed to the other's network of contacts providing a greater pool of potential customer/donators, and build a greater brand awareness level within the community than could be done alone.