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BellaOnline's Charity Editor

Charity Is Good for Business

Anyone who owns a retail business knows that to make money, youíve got to drive the customers in to the store. And for years businesses have been helping to drive business by adding a charity component to their marketing plans. After all, there are only so many Customer Appreciation Events your customers will attend. But host an event that benefits a charity that your customers support, you not only help the charity but you can help yourself by improving or building upon your reputation, increasing awareness through media coverage, increasing your attendance, and of course, growing your sales.

Charity marketing, cause-related marketing and affinity marketing are all terms applied to how businesses align themselves with charities. And charity events are certainly not the only way to get involved. Here are just a few other examples of how the corporate and charity world come together:

1. Buy One, Give One Campaigns: The customer buys one product for himself and the company donates the same item to charity. One of the best examples is Tomsí Shoes. For every pair of shoes it sells, it gives one to a child in need. Since 2006, it has donated more than 1 million pairs of shoes.

2. A portion of sales: The customer buys a specific product and a portion of that sale goes to charity. This can also relate to a business that donates a portion of all sales of all products in a given time period. A great case study here is Tropicanaís Save the Rainforest promotion. Tropicana donated proceeds of orange juice sales to help save more than 85 million square feet of rain forest.

3. Direct donations (corporate philanthropy): This is when a business makes a donation directly to a charitable organization without a connection to a purchase. WalMart consistently makes it to the top of the list each year for making direct cash or in-kind donations to charities in the hundreds of millions.

4. Charity events: An event hosted or sponsored by a business that can feature any of the above-mentioned activities to raise funds. Corporate event sponsorship in its biggest form is probably the Olympics. Yes, the International Olympic Committee is a non-profit organization that gives 90% of all proceeds to promote the world-wide development of sport.

So how can your business enter the charity marketing world? First, choose a charity that makes sense to you, your business, or your customer base. If there is no logical connection, it can actually divert a loyal customer base. Case in point: the exodus of Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation supporters who pulled their support when the company formed a charity marketing partnership with Kentucky Fried Chicken. Need I say more?

Next, work closely with the administrators of the charity to work out the details. You must be willing to give something significant if it is to be of value to the charity. Simply donating $1 of every pizza sold may not be worth it for the charity. Put some teeth into your charitable offer and not only will the charity be grateful, but your customers will think more highly of you. Donít worry Ė youíll eventually increase your sales because after the event, the customers who attended will keep coming back to you.

The bottom line: doing good is good for others and doing good is good for business. Itís a win-win combination. Why not give it a try?

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