Norton Seal Coworkers volunteering by picking up litter along a highway.

Your Business

How Philanthropy Can Boost Your Visibility in the Community

Did you know that 90 percent of philanthropic donations by small businesses go toward local causes? Best of all, not only are sponsorships and volunteer work great ways to make a positive impact on the world, but they are an opportunity for you to promote your brand at the same time.

The more visible your business is in the community, the more people will know about you — and recognize that you are a good neighbor. “Customers are starting to purchase items from the heart,” says Jerome Tennille, a corporate social responsibility professional in Arlington, Virginia. “They want to purchase from responsible companies.”

Every small business can benefit from good publicity. Tennille offers the following suggestions for local business promotion that combines social impact with increased visibility in your community.

Leverage logo promotion and co-branding. When your business sponsors an event or organization, make sure your partner group includes your logo on all their marketing materials, and also consider donating products such as branded T-shirts or swag bags. This will improve your recognition among local businesses and showcase your dedication to giving back. “Co-branding is important because it’s about having your business’s name and title alongside that nonprofit organization that is serving a certain community,” says Tennille.

Find organizations that align with your function and values. To achieve the best local promotion, look for groups that are natural fits with your business. For example, The Home Depot partners with Habitat for Humanity since the company has the supplies and workers with appropriate skills to provide real value to the nonprofit. “The best investment for smaller businesses is to look at ways they can create these relationships that are mutually beneficial,” Tennille says.

Encourage your employees to volunteer. “Employee volunteering is something that’s really big, especially for smaller companies,” says Tennille. Not only does volunteering boost your visibility, it strengthens the emotional bonds between your employees and the groups you support. Many businesses even offer their workers time on the clock to volunteer. Don’t forget to have them wear the company T-shirt.

Make use of required advertising. When your business provides funding to an organization, stipulate that they acknowledge your contribution in their advertising. Customers will recognize your name when they see you in the local business listings and they will know that you supported a worthy cause.

Seek out social and traditional media transparency. Request that your partners include your name in any social media work or press outreach they undertake. Ask yourself, if people Google my business what do I want them to see? Shout-outs on blogs and in news stories will associate your company with your chosen cause. “The nonprofit has every interest to promote their mission and everything they do and oftentimes want to give that spotlight to companies that support them,” Tennille says.

With careful planning and a sound strategy, you can make promoting locally a win-win proposition for your business and your neighborhood. “Businesses are making sure that beyond a monetary contribution, they are putting themselves out there a little more visibly to show they are dedicated to their communities,” says Tennille. “It really adds strength to your story and visibility.”

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