Strate­gic phil­an­thropy is a unique and pow­er­ful way to com­bine your com­pa­ny mar­ket­ing goals with your desire to increase the well-being of mankind.

We call it strate­gic phil­an­thropy. Two of the more pop­u­lar names are cause-relat­ed mar­ket­ing or com­mu­ni­ty part­ner­ing.

No mat­ter what you call it, strate­gic phil­an­thropy is a posi­tion­ing that con­nects your com­pa­ny with a not-for-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion or cause. In this way, while you are being help­ful and work­ing for the com­mon good in your com­mu­ni­ty, your busi­ness is receiv­ing par­al­lel ben­e­fits.

These ben­e­fits include expo­sure, lead gen­er­a­tion, employ­ee reten­tion and increas­es in per­for­mance and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. They can even include ben­e­fits to your bot­tom line.

Basic Philanthropy

Many busi­ness­es already engage in basic forms of phil­an­thropy, such as:

  • Donat­ing gift cer­tifi­cates to a church silent auc­tion
  • Allow­ing a high school club to set up a car wash on the com­pa­ny park­ing lot
  • Con­tribut­ing cof­fee for a com­mu­ni­ty event
  • Buy­ing a school year­book ad
  • Spon­sor­ing the local chil­drens sports team

No busi­ness can afford to say yes to all of the requests they receive for dona­tions. Thus they find them­selves say­ing “yes” to the few and “no” to the many.

Cre­ative strate­gic phil­an­thropy can enable you to say yes, in one form or anoth­er, to almost every group who solic­its you. (Of course, you can see how this is a dis­tinct mar­ket­ing advan­tage.)

7 Creative Strategic Philanthropy Ideas

Here are a few cre­ative strate­gic phil­an­thropy ideas that have been imple­ment­ed by our clients:

  • Intro­duce a spe­cial pre-pack­aged prod­uct that com­mu­ni­ty groups can sell these prod­ucts to their stake­hold­ers and they get a healthy per­cent­age of the mar­gin
  • Cre­ate a pro­gram where any com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice group, school, non-prof­it, etc. can dis­trib­ute coupons (i.e. they do your mar­ket­ing!) so that when their sup­port­ers buy at your store (or web­site) that group gets a per­cent­age of the sales.
  • Help groups to orga­nize fundrais­ers to be held in your store or facil­i­ty
  • Offer to part­ner with a youth edu­ca­tion group or school, propos­ing that a trans­portable com­mu­ni­ty mur­al be paint­ed at your loca­tion, which lat­er cir­cu­lates around the com­mu­ni­ty as part of edu­ca­tion­al efforts
  • Invite groups who have major events in progress to hold a recep­tion at your loca­tion, with some kind of val­ue return to them (dis­count­ed pur­chas­es, a per­cent­age of sales, some gift cer­tifi­cates, etc.)
  • Give groups involved in address­ing impor­tant local needs free or dis­count­ed gift cer­tifi­cates to pass on to their hard work­ing vol­un­teers (you can steer these, in part, to groups tied to your tar­get mar­kets)
  • Part­ner with respect­ed social action groups, to host a lunch work­shop series or com­mu­ni­ty dia­log ses­sions about local needs and issues

Here’s one more idea from busi­ness coach­ing fran­chise com­pa­ny, Quan­tum Growth Coach­ing. Quan­tum is the pri­ma­ry spon­sor and donor of the Cras Tibi Foun­da­tion, set up to pro­vide grants to orga­ni­za­tions involved in devel­op­ing nation micro-lend­ing.

My part­ner, Tom Matzen and I have writ­ten a book called Earn Twice As Much With Half The Stress. Quan­tum donate $1 from each sale of the book to Cras Tibi.

It’s a win-win-win. Quan­tum gets expo­sure because of the tie-in with Cras Tibi and microlend­ing, Cras Tibi gets the dona­tion, and the micro-bor­row­ers get to use the mon­ey.

Market Differentiation

Strate­gic phil­an­thropy can be use­ful in dis­tin­guish­ing your busi­ness from your com­peti­tors, most of who are prob­a­bly stuck in old “busi­ness as usu­al” par­a­digms.

They like­ly think the pur­pose of busi­ness is mere­ly to sell things and make mon­ey.

Such a nar­row belief cre­ates all sorts of sad con­se­quences such as:

  • The publics skep­ti­cism or dis­trust of busi­nesss self-inter­est fix­a­tion
  • Employ­ees often feel­ing less than ful­ly engaged or even exploit­ed, thus hav­ing lit­tle inter­est in being loy­al to the com­pa­ny
  • Employ­ees, and even busi­ness own­ers, feel­ing like their “real lives” are sep­a­rate form their work life
  • Sit­u­a­tion­al ethics tak­ing the place of foun­da­tion­al moral beliefs
  • Employ­ees and own­ers lack­ing the syn­er­gis­tic and cre­ative skills to achieve high per­for­mance and mar­ket­ing suc­cess

Authen­tic strate­gic phil­an­thropy is based upon the advan­tages of a much more empow­er­ing and abun­dance-filled set of beliefs.

The pur­pose of busi­ness is to under­stand and meet some groups needs, i.e. every­ones needs, includ­ing the owner(s), employ­ees, con­sumers, com­mu­ni­ty, and even the nat­ur­al envi­ron­ment

The high lev­el pur­pose of busi­ness is to cre­ate and dis­trib­ute excel­lent prod­ucts and ser­vices, in a man­ner which gen­er­ates prof­its and abun­dance for every­one involved.

Busi­ness­es can be pow­er­ful mod­els for the larg­er com­mu­ni­ty. They are able to demon­strate the val­ue of such things as inno­va­tion, ded­i­ca­tion and respon­sive­ness to cus­tomers, risk-tak­ing, process and sys­tems inno­va­tions, finan­cial prac­ti­cal­i­ties, and team­work.

Strate­gic phil­an­thropy can be a core ele­ment of how you oper­ate your busi­ness and see your­self as a entre­pre­neur.

It can func­tion­al­ly help you to refine the val­ues and pur­pose of your busi­ness, in a man­ner, which not only dis­tin­guish­es you from your com­peti­tors. But also con­tributes to your bot­tom line while improv­ing the qual­i­ty and suc­cess of vir­tu­al­ly every aspect of your staff, your sys­tems and your over­all busi­ness.