Welcome to our Ask An Expert Business Series with Misty Lambrecht, the owner of
Webfoot Marketing and Design, bringing you valuable insights based on her extensive 15 years of experience in business startups and advising in Lincoln County. As a business owner in Lincoln County, it's not uncommon to feel overwhelmed by the multitude of donation
requests that come your way. From supporting grad nights, dance clubs, garden clubs, scholarships, kids' sports, to the latest nonprofit auctions, the list can seem endless.
There is a constant influx of requests for money. I strongly believe community support is beneficial for your business. However, I understand that donating money, products, or gift certificates can impose a significant financial burden on struggling small businesses.
Furthermore, it can be challenging to say no when faced with a requester. I've observed various strategies that businesses employ to address this issue, and I'd like to share a few of my favorites.
The first and foremost aspect of making a donation is understanding that, for
businesses, a donation usually counts as a marketing expense on
their taxes. By donating, they can feature your logo on their marketing
materials, team T-shirts, websites, or announce your business name at
the event. Therefore, when considering donations as part of your
marketing strategy, it is essential to assess whether the audience that
will see your logo or sponsorship aligns with your target customers.
Even if they may not become your customers directly, evaluate if the
cause resonates with your values and business objectives. Donating
may still be a worthwhile endeavor.
To manage donation requests effectively, I recommend creating a
budget to determine how much you can donate annually or monthly.
When someone approaches you for a donation, request a written
proposal from them. You may even provide a form for them to fill out
with the necessary details. This form should include information such
as the date of the auction or event and when the money is needed. By
adopting this approach, you can avoid being put in uncomfortable
situations or feeling pressured by the requester. Inform them that you
review all requests on a specific day of the month and decide how
best to support your community and business goals. This process
serves several purposes: it encourages requesters to plan their needs,
put them in writing, and present you with a formal proposal.
Additionally, it obliges them to take the form, complete it, and return it
to you. This allows you sufficient time to carefully consider the
donation you intend to make, rather than making an immediate
decision while feeling pressured, especially if your inclination is to
If you do decide to make a donation, it is crucial to request follow-up
information. Ask the recipients to provide details about the outcomes,
such as the total amount of money raised and how they promoted
your business. If you donate to a nonprofit group, consider visiting the
organization or attending an event to witness firsthand how your
contribution supports their mission.
There are numerous worthy causes to support, and one approach that
many people find effective is the gift certificate model. By offering a
gift certificate that can be purchased at an auction or won as a prize,
you can attract individuals to your store. Furthermore, even if not
everyone uses the gift certificate they receive, those who do may end
up making additional purchases beyond the donated amount. Another
common strategy is to donate surplus products. For instance, if you
have an excess inventory of sweatshirts or T-shirts in a particular size
that are not selling well, donating these items can help clear stock
while supporting a nonprofit organization.
If you are the one soliciting donations, it is important to recognize that
many businesses are currently facing economic challenges. Consider
supporting the companies you approach by purchasing their products
or services. Are you their customer? Are the individuals benefiting
from the donation also customers who have previously supported this
business financially outside of the specific event?
In summary, when engaging in financial donations, remember that it is
reasonable to expect something in return for your business. This
could include attracting customers, increasing visibility through
advertisements, or reaching a broader audience that may have been
previously untapped. Ultimately, supporting your community brings
about a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.