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Ask An Expert; Business Series

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.

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