8 QUESTIONS A BUSINESS OWNER SHOULD ASK NONPROFITS WHEN CONSIDERING A CONTRIBUTION

These homes are built with community support and volunteers

Written by Merit

June 23, 2021

You, as most small and even medium-sized business owners, can’t be Mackenzie Scotts, donate billions to U.S. non-profits and receive national mega-attention and goodwill. In Medium[1], Scott wrote however, that the focus should not be on her, but rather, on community-focused non-profits and infrastructure organizations supporting them. The local organizations are, in her words, “powerful catalysts and multipliers” for systemic change towards greater equity.

Small businesses, the unsung heroes of local communities, support local non-profits for a variety and a mix of reasons, unselfish altruism among those, ie. “right thing to do”, civic duty, if you will. Others support causes they or their employees care about.  Yet others blend business development strategy in their decisions about what non-profits to support and how. Garnering visibility and recognition in return can be a key motivator. Where do you feel you land in this mix?

HOW CAN YOU GET BUSINESS-BUILDING RESULTS FROM YOUR COMMUNITY-SUPPORTING GENEROSITY?

If your experience is like mine as a lingerie boutique owner in Andover, MA for almost ten years, you might agree that unfortunately, donations of gift certificates or products, or taking an ad in the program book, often only result in limited one-time visibility on the auction table or event and one or two new customers. I learned the hard way that a smart business owner tries to determine if the contribution is going to result in new or added business. Here are some ideas for you about what to ask when deciding if your contribution is worth making and when comparing one non-profit’s “ask” to another. 

QUESTIONS TO ASK A NONPROFIT:
  1. What is the demographic profile of the your donor base?
  2. How will you recognize my contribution?
  3. Will you post a list of business contributors on your social media with links to our business web page?
  4. How many social media followers do you have, with what kind of engagement lever?
  5. Do you send out a newsletter to individual donors mentioning us as contributors?
  6. Does your annual report include us on a list of contributors?
  7. Do you post a list of business donors posted on their website with links to our business website?
  8. What can I offer to your event that would get me the maximum attention?
CAUSE MARKETING AS PART OF YOUR MARKETING STRATEGY

There is no shame in being strategic with these decisions. Strategy is part and parcel of cause marketing. It’s important to understand how effective the marketing channel or platform is. Similar to determining what newspaper, magazine or social media platform to run and ad on. Marketing strategy also cannot be shooting in the dark and seeing what sticks, but rather a methodical and repeated process of carefully crafted action. Same applies to cause marketing with non-profit partners as your marketing channel.

After all, you as the business owner, are making an offering out of your assets in one way or another when you contribute to non-profit causes. Straight money from the bottom-line, product, time or space. It is reasonable to expect a return. Trackable and repeatable return would be even better. I’ll return to that thought in my next blog.

About the author:

Merit Kuusniemi is the Founder and CEO of Ansio Global Goods Ltd. dba MyTownDoesGood.com connecting nonprofits and businesses for community good. Merit has decades of nonprofit engagement and entrepreneurial business experience in the U.S. She is now a startup entrepreneur based in Finland, a startup angel, advisor, and board professional.  Sign up to learn more about MyTownDoesGood.com

Keywords:  fundraising, cause marketing, community, community-centered service, equity, corporate social responsibility, SDG, ESG, CSR


[1] https://mackenzie-scott.medium.com/seeding-by-ceding-ea6de642bf

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