How to Support Charities and Make Money Doing It

By Zach Williams

Charity events rank as the number two reason brands show up
in social media mentions from DIY Consumers (1).

There are a number of ways your brand can get involved with
the greater good, just make sure to utilize some of the strategies below to
make the most of your generosity.

Sell Products that
Make a Difference and Tell a Story

has been around for years, and is growing in popularity. Companies are
partnering with non-profits to co-brand products and share the profits.

While TOMS Shoes is not a textbook example of cause-marketing,
they are a great example of how a product with a purpose and a story will get
consumers hooked.

The secret to TOMS’s success, or one of them, includes the
difference the shoes make and the stories they can tell
. Because the
purchase of TOMS is directly linked to a tangible donation, consumers are both
inspired to purchase and inspired to share about their purchase with anyone
that compliments their shoes.

is another great example of cause-marketing in action. Consumers can
purchase totes, shirts and accessories to help feed hungry kids in the US. Each
product includes it’s own story of how it was made and lists the “impact”
purchasing that product will have on those in need.

For example, buying a bracelet provides 5 school meals for
hungry kids, and buying a tote bag provides 1 child with school meals for a
full year.

Again, it’s the tangible relationship between the product
and the donation that make this charity campaign resonate with the consumer.

Go BIG on Social

Selling products that also give back have a naturally added incentive
for consumers: they are easily shareable on social media. Consumers can buy
your product and immediately post a picture of them eating, wearing or using
the product.

We recommend creating unique hashtags for your charity
involvement, so consumers can tweet (or post) both at your company and include
your brand’s hashtags to double the awareness.

Your social media pages should be filled with all the
need-to-know information about your charity event or involvement.

Here is some of the info that should be included:

  • Are you matching donations?
  • Is your company planning to make a large donation?
  • What physical goals are linked with your charity drive (completing a building, supplying clean water to 1,000 people, school supplies for 1,000 kids)
  • Background information about the charity you’ve chosen and why

Social media is also a great forum for sharing why your brand is interested in the charities you support. Encourage consumers to post their experiences or passions for the charity to bolster awareness and donations.

Update your pages frequently with stories of the day, and how
much you’ve raised so far. If you have a goal, let them know how close you are,
and what you need to meet it.

As a bonus, consider posting follow-up pictures to
demonstrate where donations were used. Letting consumers see tangible evidence
of their money in action is a powerful incentive to give (or purchase) again.

Let your product give consumers a story to tell.

-Mike Zimmerman, Contributing Editor

Pick a Charity that
Will Resonate with Your Consumer Set

Similar to native advertising, when choosing a charity, you’ll
want to align with one that will hit home with your target consumers.

You could go the way of your brand, and choose a charity
that is directly related to your company. For example, home improvement
companies could support Habitat for Humanity
or contribute to disaster relief organizations.

In fact, the home improvement industry has a huge
opportunity to create charitable events by donating their products to
refurbish, rebuild or build from scratch for those in need.

The great thing about building-based charity events is it
allows the whole community to take part, which will help keep your brand on the top
of their minds for their next home improvement purchase.

If your brand isn’t quite a niche market, you can align with
any number of charities that will hit home for multiple consumer sets: disease
or cancer research, education funding, clean water aid and the Make a Wish Foundation are all popular options that
can easily appeal to multiple types of consumer sets.

You might also consider thinking outside of big national
charities. Donating to local charities, such as your local food bank, homeless
shelter or after-school programs has the potential to really be supported by
the community’s consumers.

We know that all large charities are not bad, but big
charities with high paid execs have received a lot of bad press
in the last
few years. DIY Consumers are conscious of the world around them, and may be
wary of big-name-charities with questionable ethics.

To combat this possible donation deterrent, you could tell
consumers up-front what their donations will support. For example, “Donate $5,
feed a family for a day.” Just be sure that you can deliver on what your

Be Genuine

DIY Consumers will be able to sniff out phony or gimmick
charity support in an instant.

Make the charity your own. I don’t mean start your own
charity (although you could), rather, whatever charity you do choose to
support, make sure it fits into the narrative of your company.

Show the consumer that the charity you chose is important to
you for more reasons than just the tax write-off. Include a short narrative
about why your brand feels connected with the cause your supporting on your
website, and on all of your social media outlets.

We’d love to hear from
you. Post some successful charity events you’ve been apart of in the comments
below, and tell us why those charities are important to you.


1. Mintel Group Ltd. (2013). DIY Home
Improvement and Maintenance – US
. Chicago: Mintel Group Ltd.

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