How to Say Yes to More Community Requests Without Going Broke
As a Small Business owner, I personally have a sense of obligation to make a genuine contribution to my community and yet, I often find the demands made on me exceed my ability to contribute.
How frequently are you receiving requests for donations from local community groups and not for profits? Are you finding it a struggle to support them all? Is it difficult to say no when they ask?
Do you sometimes get the impression they think Small Business owners have an endless bucket of money? We know this isn’t so.
There are more worthwhile causes to support than most business owners can afford, so there has to be a way of culling the requests that doesn’t alienate the ones you can’t help.
Here are three ideas to help:
1. Ask for the request to be made in writing
Prepare an application form for groups to complete. Ask for full details of the organisation, its name, how many members, what’s its purpose, incorporation dat, executive committee members details.
Find out what the donation is going to be used for and when the event/activity will be completed by.
Ask them to tell you why you should support them.
If the request is coming from a parent or individual who wants you to help fund their sporting trip or travel costs for medical help ensure they have set up an official charity/not for profit for the purpose or that they are fundraising through a local service club such as Apex or Lions so you know the funds will be used for the purpose stated.
Allow 7-10 days to consider and respond to their application.
2. Find a way to make it a win/win
In the time allowed to consider the application, work out a way to turn your donation into a win/win for you and the organisation.
For example, shopping centres are approached daily for prize donations and/or free space to sell raffle tickets or for sporting club sign on days.
When I explain to community groups that Small Businesses pay high rent for their space and ask them to work with me to find a way to give something back rather than just take from their community, they are usually excited and keen to engage.
I’ve turned these type of requests into actual events that generate free publicity and fun for customers.
For example – a fun coin line for the National Heart Foundation (great media exposure for the centre that wasn’t achievable with a simple raffle); health mind and body expo (where the community group charged attendees to be part of the event and customers were treated to free activities and events while they shopped), face painting (in return for a gold coin donation), VIP events, school holiday activities, gift wrapping, window displays (community group gets involved in theming your window display to promote your product and their cause)
3. Ask your customers to decide which community group they’d like to support
Why not ask your customers to decide which community group to support?
Instead of an application form, your community groups could submit a proposal and/or post on your social media pages what they would like to use the funds they are requesting for.
You could have a simple generic entry form that provides space for your customers to write their name, contact details and chosen charity.
This promotion idea could fit into any budget with some creative thinking. You could have daily and weekly instant draws with the major monthly donation being awarded to the charity/not for profit who has the most entry forms.
This way you are supporting the community groups that support you.
Saying no to not for profits and community groups can be painless and fun. It doesn’t have to leave you feeling like you may potentially lose business if you don’t support your community.
You can find alternative ways to give them what they want in a way that benefits you by thinking creatively, getting to know them and what it is they really want.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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