Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Profits of Paying it Forward

In today's vernacular, the term for charitable giving is paying it forward. Entrepreneurs and companies who give time and money, even lend their name to charitable and non-profit organizations, provide an emotional link to their customers by connecting them to causes which are important to them.

Like "buying American" after 9/11 and "going green" a few years ago, this market trend can be a powerful tool for energizing your web site.

Causes marketing is a double edge sword. Choosing neutral causes is a much better choice than choosing a more controversial one. If we choose cancer research, it's hard to go wrong unless that organization or cause has a negative press experience. It's usually best to stay away from politics and religion because those causes are often polarized and may alienate potential customers and clients. The only caveat would be a time when your customer base is identical to a cause you support.

Another word of caution, jumping on the band wagon too soon after an event is perceived as "taking advantage" of peoples emotions, and is negative. Profiteering is negative marketing. People like to have time to make up their minds about events; particularly emotional ones. Wait for the end of a news cycle and work to regenerate interest in your cause.

How do you participate in paying it forward? There are lots of ways.
  • Forward letters of support for causes you care about on behalf of an organization
  • Like a cause on Facebook with your fan page
  • Send out a letter or snail mail piece outlining your contributions
  • Volunteer your time and post pictures on Facebook and your web site
  • Participate in an event, a walk, or a 5K race
  • Provide food for the needy
  • Work in a soup kitchen
  • Donate money or products to your cause
Here is brief list of causes which I support because they matter to me. I often run races which help generate interest, awareness and funds. I also donate time and money as I am able.
  • American Heart Association - because I had a heart attack.
  • Pancreatic Cancer Action Network - because this is the disease which my mother died of.
  • My daughter's PTO because it provides supplies for the classroom.
  • The Local College and High School Hockey teams because I like hockey.
  • The local youth hockey organization because my child is involved.
  • Food Pantry
  • Cancer research
Not only are causes a way to contribute to your community and feel good, it benefits those who are less fortunate - I don't think that anyone has an issue with that, and most people will support you because they perceive you to be not just reputable, but compassionate.

Do you pay it forward?

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