We’re in an era where people interact more via text, email and social media than face-to-face communication. We sit behind our computers engaging friends and strangers through Facebook and Twitter. Text messages have replaced phone calls. This type of communication has its place in today’s society and business environment, but for a company owner and representatives it’s important to stay involved in the community.
Taking an active role in the area where you live and work makes you more aware of what’s going on in the community. This social conscience will give you the necessary tools to make a difference. When you’re making a difference with your time and money; you’re improving the living environment and attracting a boarder range of potential customers and employees for future recruitment and prosperity.
The public visibility at events is an effective way to attract more customers. Whether it’s sponsoring an event with your company name and logo attached to it, or having representative on hand; potential clients or customers will remember your support. Many times, people are more willing to spend their money with businesses that give back. They will also travel further to shop with a company that has a reputation for being community minded. People are usually willing to donate to a group or cause that will keep that money in their community.
Don’t get us wrong, writing a check to benefit the community in any capacity is great, but the real connection comes from being face-to-face with members of the community. Your company name now has a personal face and people that you meet are more likely to refer others to you when they actually know you.
Depending on the event, you may be able to collect contact information for potential customers. If you can’t use the information because of privacy issues, the organization you’re helping may be willing to contact those people on your behalf and share your generosity to their cause. Talk beforehand to sort out those details and be in the know of what to expect and the expectations of your sponsorship.
Even if it’s not in the budget to give money to a cause, you can still give back and make a lasting impression through volunteering. Volunteering is effective, as mentioned, it gives a real face to the name and logo being spread around. All volunteering costs is time. Having staff members representing your company at a charity event not only helps the group, it puts your name out there to future customers as well.
This activity is also beneficial to the volunteers as it often gives a person a better sense of accomplishment when they help others. Employees are said to be more trusting and loyal to a company that gives back. That in turn will help to build team morale around the workplace.
Whether it’s a donation or volunteer hours, the actions can be claimed on your taxes. Before taking that route, make sure it’s a nonprofit organization that has been approved by the IRS. Keep records of all hours spent volunteering and receipts of donations that are made. An accountant or tax professional can explain all the legalities involved with this kind of deduction.
Being involved also sets a good example for today’s youth. Kids are exposed to countless displays of inappropriate behavior in the media. Giving of your time and your company’s will leave a lasting impression on someone who could end up paying it forward based on your lead. These young people may also be the type of future employee you want as a part of your organization.
You can’t ever go wrong by giving back to the community but we would like to take a moment to make a distinction in donations and sponsorships. Donations should be a no strings attached contribution to your community. A donation should be a gift that you should expect nothing in return. A sponsorship on the other hand is a commitment to a minimum contribution, usually in exchange for some kind of advertising. Before you start writing checks for sponsorships, you should always have a meeting and set clear expectations of what you are getting and what you are expected to receive. Being a sponsor for an event and not meeting contribution expectations beyond a buy in can hurt your reputation.
In summary, being involved in your community is good for business and good for the future of business. Giving back to the community is always a best business practice. Just be sure you always set clear expectations and if your money has strings, clearly communicate what you expect in return. It’s ok to ask your community for support in return to giving back, but it should never be a requirement.
What are your thoughts?
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