So, so exciting….BusinessWeek Small Biz published an article yesterday online, Make Giving Part of Your Business Strategy…and I am featured in it!
Amy S. Choi, the journalist that wrote the article, contacted me a couple months ago for an interview. We had a great conversation and I really liked that she was writing an article that would include some “how to” tips for small businesses. During our conversation, as I described the eight steps of effective business giving that I use in my work, I also mentioned some of the great companies I had interviewed for my book as examples to make my points. Later I sent her several folks contact info, should she choose to get more information.
From my list, Amy chose to also interview Jason Linkow, owner of Metafolics Salon here in Denver. A great choice! The man is so nice and a savvy, businessperson with a lot of integrity. I have written several earlier blog posts about him. I have been checking daily for this article. Today I found it by searching for his name on the BusinessWeek site. (Never though to search on my own…duh!) So there was a great photo of Jason and Amy’s really well done article. And Amy quoted me, as well – several times actually.
“Once you’ve settled on a cause, think about the various nonprofits that support it, and ask which would help you best achieve your business goals. “There is a way to be strategic and get business value out of your giving, and still do it in an authentic way,” says Susan Hyatt, founder of philanthropy consultant Business Nonprofit Connections. Are you trying to raise visibility? In that case, choosing a small organization to which you can become a major benefactor would be a good strategic move. If you’re looking to improve recruitment and retention or to boost morale, canvas employees for their opinions about worthy causes. For those looking to increase sales, it’s worth asking if a nonprofit’s other patrons might be potential clients….A lot of companies don’t know exactly what they’re giving, which is ridiculous,” says Hyatt. “If philanthropy were a business unit, you would know what you were spending to the penny.”
Then establish some metrics. That means preparing to track what your employees are doing and how much time they give, and the value of in-kind gifts and pro bono services. If you’re giving cash, ask your organizations to tell you how they spent your money, and consider the payback. Did you gain greater visibility or any new clients? You don’t need to quantify the returns on every dollar spent, but if you don’t keep track of what you’re doing, it’s hard to know the benefits either to you or your cause.
If you’ve chosen an organization you don’t already have a relationship with, start building one by contacting either the development director or the executive director, depending on the size of the nonprofit, says Hyatt. If you know someone on the board, start there. Or, if you want to support a specific program, reach out to the program director. Although the frequency of your contact will vary depending on what kind of support you plan to offer, plan on a minimum of quarterly updates. This will give you a chance to explore future opportunities and evaluate the impact of past giving. “You want to create new opportunities, not show up and deliver a check,” says Hyatt.
It’s important to start small. As your business grows, or shrinks, you can adjust your giving accordingly. Decide where the donations will come from in your budget, whether it’s human resources, public relations, or marketing. Appoint a person in the company to monitor these efforts, making sure that the work is recognized as part of their job duties.
You’ll also want to think about how to celebrate your success. There is a fine line between good marketing and appearing self-serving, and the instinct may be to resist saying anything. But remember, most customers want to do business with companies that do good, says Hyatt.”