Friday, November 12, 2010

‘Tis the season… the charitable season

November and December are popular times for nonprofits and charitable organizations to ramp up their efforts in order to coincide with the holidays. Not only is this a great time of year to get personally involved with a cause you care about, it is an opportunity to evaluate how your for-profit clients are interacting with the community’s charitable organizations.

Cause marketing can be an essential part of any reputation management endeavor for a client. Donations in the form of time, services or money can be a positive way to build your client’s “character.” Adopting a nonprofit partner shows your employees, customers and everyone else that the company values more than just the bottom line.

When looking for your next cause marketing idea, keep these things in mind:
  • Pick something that makes sense—Find natural relationships between your client and a potential cause.  We could see the hypocrisy of Phillip Morris partnering with American Cancer Society, so seek out a nonprofit whose goals line up with your own. A local restaurant and The North Texas Food Bank? That sounds more like it.
  • Try it out—There’s no rule that you can’t make a one-time donation, or that you have to pick only one group to work with forever. Recently, the PRSA-affiliated networking group Dallas NuPros spent an afternoon serving lunch at The Salvation Army. No formal relationship or schedule was decided, but this single activity got the ball rolling on establishing a formal community service project.  Establish a connection between the two organizations, and see if additional connections among the people of both groups develop. 
  • Be sincere—Consumers and clients can tell when they see something fake or forced. (See some of the worst here.) Don’t seek out a nonprofit for the sole purpose of advancing your own reputation. Remember the reason you are working with a charity: to help a good cause. Hang on to that, and it will provide a good guideline on how to develop this relationship, how to promote the cause and the appropriate way to weave your own client’s name into that story.
Doing “good” makes you look good, right? More importantly, it can make you feel good, so make an effort this holiday season and encourage your clients to do the same.

This post was contributed by Vicky Smithee.