According to a study done by cause marketing firm, Cone LLC, if two brands had equal product quality and price, but one supported a charitable cause, 94% of people would choose the brand that supports a good cause.
Engage for Good reports that 76% of consumers would consider purchasing a brand or product to show support for the issues the brand or product supported.
Both these statistics, among others that show a consumer desire for charitable giving, demonstrate the possibilities for a symbiotic relationship between nonprofit organizations and small businesses.
Nonprofits and small businesses have a lot in common. In a rapidly globalizing economy, any entity that isn’t a giant corporation is an underdog, and banding together can be the best way to compete with conglomerates. By forming relationships with the small businesses in your area, you can partner up to raise awareness about your cause and developing products or co-host events that promote both the business and your nonprofit. They’ll get some good clout for being a business that cares about things that benefit community members and maybe even a little press, while you can spread the word about your cause to their consumers. Here are four different ways to integrate your nonprofit’s cause into your small business community:
1. Hand Out Donation Boxes
Stick a “Donate to this Nonprofit” label on a mason jar, and voila! You’ve got a donation box. Businesses won’t always want to clutter their check-out area with various nonprofit’s tip jars, but if you build a relationship with a local store owner, they probably won’t mind sticking your donation box in front of their cash register and giving their customers the opportunity to donate to a good cause. If you get the green light, make sure that your donation box is eye-catching and informative so that customers won’t only notice it, but they’ll know exactly what kind of organization they’re donating to.
2. Create a Product
This one requires a little more effort and creativity but could really raise awareness and cash in a fun way. If there are businesses in your community whose customers could potentially have some overlap with your customers, develop a special product that would promote sales for the business and awareness and donations for you. Let’s say your nonprofit specializes in something like supporting animals in need. Team up with your local pet store to develop special dog treats with your nonprofit’s brand on the label, and then every time a customer buys those treats, a percentage goes to your organization. Or if your nonprofit is dedicated to sharing the love of music with at-risk kids, design a bumper sticker that record stores and music venues can sell for a few bucks.
3. Put on a Show
Performances licenses aren’t always cheap or easy to acquire, and you probably don’t have a hip concert space set up at your nonprofit’s office. But shows are some of the best ways to raise money and awareness for charitable causes. Partner up with a music venue to get a few bands on a ticket for a show for which proceeds from the bar, cover charge, or merch sales are donated to your cause. You could even set up tables where local artists can sell homemade jewelry, painting and prints, and artisan soaps or candles. Putting on a fun event that celebrates art will bring potential supporters and community members together in a positive space where you can take opportunities to raise awareness and cash.
Developing relationships with specific artists can’t hurt either. Indie rocker Lucy Dacus was able to promote both her merch and a cause she cared about during her North American recent tour by promising a certain percentage of her t-shirt and poster sales to a particular nonprofit based in her home state, Virginia. Artists and nonprofits have a long history of allyship, so don’t be afraid to ask your local artists and music venues if they can put in the time and effort to support you.
4. Build Relationships
There are a lot of small businesses out there that would be happy to support nonprofit efforts. But there are also a lot of nonprofits out there, and you want to make sure that yours is one that gets supported. You may be getting antsy to get your name out there, but cold pitching isn’t always the best way to go. Taking the time to get to know the business owners in your neighborhood will show that you’re genuinely interested in not only supporting a great cause but also being a part of your community, which most business owners will respond to more positively.