by Sarah Thurstenson, Sarah Thurstenson Design
Siloam Springs Women in Business Second Meet and Greet
The giving spirit is nothing new to our community in Siloam Springs. The majority of businesses and individuals are deeply generous with their time and money and are very supportive of our schools, places of worship and non-profit organizations.
As businesswomen in Siloam Springs, we are faced with frequent requests to support a child or an organization with a donation. Most of us work for the purpose of giving back and contributing to our community in some way. We want to make a difference and become a part of a big picture of meeting needs around us. The question we are faced with is not IF we will give but HOW do we manage our gifts when we give.
To help answer that question, I invited fellow member Dominique Seitz to share with our group about the vision of Cause Marketing at our Meet and Greet on June 1. Cause Marketing or cause-related marketing refers to a type of marketing involving the cooperative efforts of a for-profit business and a non-profit organization for mutual benefit. They create a partnership and work together to promote a cause.
A good example of this is Dominique’s employer, DaySpring Cards. Dominique, along with her own business of life and business coaching, is employed full time by DaySpring. She volunteers on the ministry committee that decides where DaySpring will give their contributions each year. DaySpring has always been generous to the area, but their method of distribution has changed over time. They used to give a small amount to many organizations. Now, they adopt a “ministry partner” for the year. They invest a substantial amount in one organization while providing smaller gifts and services to other groups. This ministry partner has more resources and purchase power to take them to the next level in growth than they would have experienced in years with smaller gifts.
In turn, DaySpring is associated with this ministry in a partnership and, as a business, is benefiting in these ways: exposure to the community, building personal relationships, advertising for their products, a tax deduction for their business, educating the company on their mission and building community respect and admiration for fulfilling a large need—all in the spirit of good-will.
For those of us who are smaller businesses, what does giving and investing in our community look like for us who don’t have as much to give? Dominique assured us, “It doesn’t matter your size, you can make a difference. It doesn't matter the amount or if you give any money at all, you can make a difference.” Giving is how you use what you have—money, time, services, products—to make a difference.
Dominique encouraged us to consider these points as we organize our thoughts and decide where to give.
- Be authentic. When you select a cause make sure it is something that you believe in. Don’t chase the money just to make sales. It could backfire and make your business look bad or put you in a difficult situation. Do your homework and know what an organization stands for and if you want to align yourself to that cause. Customers also want to align with businesses that contribute to the community. They will support and patronize businesses where they know their money is well spent and goes to somewhere that they also support.
- Be intentional. Know when to say yes and when to say no. Saying no is acceptable and is respected when handled well. Use a form or application explaining that your funds are limited for the year and applications will be accepted based on those limitations. Kindness and clarity go a long way. I can give you a sample of a form to customize for your business.
- Know what you are prepared to give. Create a budget for funds and a plan on a spreadsheet that tracks what you have to give and where and what you have given. Even time, services in kind, and physical investment should be planned and tracked so you know when you have met your limit. Giving should not become something that begins hurting your company in any way. Most people will be surprised at how much they give!
- Know what you expect to receive. This can be challenging, but many organizations are very willing to support their donors in turn for their contribution. Ask how they can support you with logo placement for event promotion, your logo on their website, mention on social media, event signage, or special thanks for your donation.
- Keep it simple and have fun! Be creative in how you can support on your terms with your budget. Plan how you can say, “Yes, I will contribute!”
In our roundtable discussion we heard ideas from those of us on how they like to give back to the community. We talked about how we can maximize those gifts for both the giver and the receiving organization.
- Many give monetary donations and realize that they could do more to promote awareness by talking about their cause on social media. This would make their customers more aware of the organization they love and increase their reputation in the eyes of those who are like-minded.
- Giving a gift certificate is an inexpensive way to say “Yes I will contribute,” without much expense. The charity gets the donation at the time of the auction and the cost only comes to you when it is redeemed. It may not always result in new sales, but it gives you the possibility of gaining a new one-time customer or building a new relationship.
- Develop a specific item or gift that you give for requests for donations. Budget the cost and stop the expense of time re-thinking this question at each request.
- Give when they purchase. Establish the amount you give back to the organization when their members use your product or service. Money in, money out = balance.
- When giving a service, avoid confusion and discontent. Invoice the full amount and then write a check back to the organization for your donation of the amount you choose. Set an amount up front or say a “portion of the proceeds” will be donated to the group. Not only is this good for record keeping on both sides, it also educates them on the value of your gift. An organization needs to know exactly what was given and what to expect if they had to pay full price for that service elsewhere. This helps the giver maintain a good attitude about the time they are giving and maintains a good relationship of mutual support.
- Adopt one non-profit a year as a partner. Meet and agree with them how this will look and what mutual benefits you will experience by partnering all year with one organization. Talk about each other on social media, become a sponsor of their fundraising event, be an active team member in service for one year, then choose another to invest in next year.
Dominique encouraged us to begin to think like partners. When we serve with non-profit organizations on teams, encourage the leadership to embrace the businesses in the community. Suggest and offer ways to partner together in mutual support. Promoting businesses and increasing business growth only makes us all stronger and have more to give.
We were so thankful that Dominique came and took the time to share with us! She was a great resource of ideas and encouragement on many levels of this topic. We would do well to emulate her generous spirit! She left us with this thought, “You don’t need to change the world, you just need to change your world.”