As marketers, we’re all used to getting donation requests. Some properties might receive dozens of requests a year, while others might get just a few—but all of them can be difficult to evaluate.
Can your property afford a giveaway? Is the organization a good fit for your support? Those two key questions probably come to mind immediately when you’re asked for a donation. But there’s a third question that’s just as important: What kind of benefits will you see as a result of your support?
Yes, you’re being asked to help a cause, and we’re certainly not saying that you should only be concerned with what you get out of it. You’re also being presented with a marketing opportunity, however, and the quality of that opportunity should be a factor in your decision.
Here are some quick tips on how to evaluate donation opportunities, and maximize the benefit for your property, too.
Consider your mission
If you don’t have a mission or vision for your community giving program, create one—and then accept requests from organizations that are aligned with it. What values do you have as a company? What matters to your employees and guests? You can even solicit suggestions from them and make proactive donations, if you choose.
Get the right information
You should put together a standard response for all inquiries. Ask the organization to confirm they can meet any specific requirements you have, and also request the following details:
- What are the demographics of the audience? If an event is involved, what is the expected number of attendees? Keep in mind that many fundraising events are attended by donors with a high net worth—precisely the people we often are trying to target as marketers. That can make a donation a much better investment than spending tens of thousands of dollars on an ad that might be seen by only 1% of our target audience.
- Is the organization willing to provide mentions on its social media channels to promote and tag your property? How many fans/followers does the organization have?
- Will the organization promote your property on its website and provide a link back to your site?
- If you produce a dedicated email promoting your auction item or donation, will the organization distribute the message to its audience?
What collateral will be provided to the audience? Will your property receive ad space in the program? A logo on signage? A mention from the event MC?
Treat requests like a potential brand partnership
When you have the above information, evaluate the opportunity. Make sure it’s a win-win that not only allows the organization to raise money, but that also provides you with a legitimate chance to reach the audience you want.
Develop a marketing plan for each donation
If you agree to participate, create goals for your donation and consider how to reach them. It’s usually best to focus on social media, email and digital marketing: For example, if you’re donating to a school, you could request that your property or donation be featured in an email newsletter that goes to parents, or even a flyer that kids can take home.
Offer your ideas
Fundraising chairs and other staffers who make these requests typically don’t have a marketing background; that means they will welcome your help as a skilled marketer. Don’t be shy about contributing ideas to promote your donation—which also will create value for their event and organization.
Considering the audience many of these organizations attract, a donation can be a powerful opportunity for your property. Would you just hand off a big marketing initiative to an administrative assistant to manage and forget about it? Of course not. You shouldn’t do it in these instances, either.