I interviewed Jason Linkow, owner of Metafolics Salon in Denver, for my upcoming book Business Philanthropy: How Smart Businesses Give Back.  Jason is a smart business man and a deep thinker.  I knew he gave a great haircut and did things in the community, but I after interviewing him, I was VERY impressed with his business savvy and authentic commitment to making a difference while leveraging scarce resources to grow his business.

Jason explained, “A salon, if you look in the dictionary, is a gathering place for the community.  So, in my business plan, it was very important that we give back to the community, which gives to us.  It’s a symbiotic relationship.  Right now with just one location, we pull clients from all over the state.  So, we have a very large community that comes to our salon.”  

Jason explained that Metafolics chooses organizations to support on two levels: personal commitment or as an entire business.  He says, “Any employee that works in my business, myself included, if they have a cause that they personally care about, can suggest charitable directions to head in, as can the customers in our chairs.” 

Metafolics gives back in a variety of ways from small to large.  “For example, a lot of people who are on boards that do fundraising for their schools may come in and ask us for silent auction donations and things of that nature.  That’s a very small level of how we could partner with different small entities where our time is worth money.  It is not necessarily a monetary donation but we’ll give complimentary gift certificates and things of that nature.”

For larger efforts, Jason takes a very strategic approach to Metafolics’ community involvement, especially when their support will involve a significant investment of time, dollars, product or use of their facilities or marketing materials. “If there is going to be an expense to the business, because we are a small business and don’t have tons of excess funds to distribute that way, it’s important for us that it is a symbiotic relationship where the charity is benefitting from our involvement, but in some way we’re also benefiting by working with them…whether it just be through publicity or getting our name out there. 

“At the end of the day, doing a good deed always feels great.” He says that the Salon makes smaller scale donations out of the kindness of their hearts and to keep their name out there in the community. However, for larger scale efforts, a very important consideration for them is whether it will be a win-win for both organizations.

Jason sees many benefits from Metafolics involvement in the community.  “The obvious benefit is that we’ve had a bunch of new clients come in who might have won our hair cut or hair color at an auction and never would have been in our salon if it wasn’t for that. Also, the repetition of hearing our name over and over, creates more brand awareness.  So when somebody does say this is where they get their hair done, it clicks, it makes sense, they’ve heard of us, it makes us more legitimate.  On a bigger level I think, depending on the cause, certain communities are very good about supporting the businesses who support them.  We’ve been asked time and time again to contribute to other events that might have been because of our involvement in another fundraiser – it just kind of snowballs into other things. All in all, it’s great for the individual technician but it’s also good for our business and the culture within our business.”

Food for Thought:
Have you thought about your criteria for which community events or causes to support, as Jason has? Have you segmented the decision-making process based on level of effort or resources that will be required? Do you understand what benefits result from your efforts?