Getting involved in charitable and community organizations as a new business development strategy is hardly a new notion. However, unless it is purely altruistic, participation needs to be carefully calculated so that you get an ROI on your investment of time, resources or money.
Some of the biggest mistakes I’ve witnessed are:
- Companies writing checks for banquets or galas in the hopes of “running into someone important” at the event
- Choosing to support an organization because an important prospect happens to be listed on the letterhead without fully researching their accessibility or level of involvement
- Choosing to commit time and energy to organization without thoroughly cross-referencing the board and membership with a potential client list
Before you get involved with any organization for the purpose of business development, consider the following:
- Do you have some level of passion for the cause regardless of the business benefits?
- If your objective is to shine or show your company in a brighter light, you need to be prepared to exceed expectations. Any less of an effort could backfire.
- Find the right fit
- Research your clients and potential clients to see if there is a common cause they support. Often times, leaders in an industry band together behind a certain organization. That’s the place you want to be.
- Do the math
- Create a budget of time and money for your community involvement and treat it like marketing dollars. What will you spend and what do you expect in return? You can do well by doing good if you plan ahead and implement a strategy.
- Go big or go home
- Choose one organization and make it your own. A big check or a big contribution of time gets a lot more attention! For example, instead of buying two tickets to 5 different events, but a table at one event so that your name is listed as a sponsor or patron. Donate auction items so your company is recognized as a contributor. If you choose to make a contribution, schedule a meeting with your targeted prospect to discuss the organization and its missions. If that person is truly engaged, they will be happy to sit down with you and explain the benefits of aligning with that group. Deliver the contribution directly to them. There’s no better way to establish a bond.
- Communities thrive when businesses show their support. Plan correctly and your business will thrive as well.