2015: Philanthropy as Marketing

Be Generous With Your Business
(Photo by Salzburg Global Seminar)

When people want help with their marketing, they’re generally thinking about the usual tangibles: websites, flyers, naming, advertisements, strategy, and special offers. But how can you truly make yourself get noticed for all the right reasons?

Instead of trying to convince people with words & images – “walk your talk”. Give of your most valuable commodity: your time and energy to those in need. While you may be able to generate some “good will” short-term PR for these efforts (a photo opportunity or a mention in a local newspaper human interest story), I’m suggesting something much more long-term. An intentional system where you build a natural groundswell with people you meet face-to-face and help. Consider that some businesses invest their entire marketing budget on community involvement efforts (school donations, local homeless shelter support, in-kind donations to charities, etc.).

Remember that marketing’s goal is to explain your solution to your audience’s problem and give them a compelling reason to choose you. If you’re known as the organization that’s spreading its message through the community, then you’ve achieved your marketing goal: people choose you because you choose them. Long-term, it’s the right way to build your company to be positioned well.

If you think that this only works for local businesses, consider Salesforce.com Foundation‘s 1-1-1 model. They leverage 1% of the company’s product, equity, and time to improve communities around the world. To date, they’ve donated over $68 million in grants, 680,000 volunteer hours, and helped 23,000 nonprofits.

What can you do to help the world this year (and in coming years)?

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