Strategic philanthropy can aid marketing goals

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Instead of ignoring charitable solicitations, it might be wise to address those that will further a company’s marketing goals, according to a local marketing and public relations consultant.

"Some companies pass out thousands of dollars every year to virtually every charity that submits a request, but there is almost no marketing or public relations benefit to that approach," said Jane E. Hosmanek Kaiser, author of Wisdom, Tips, and Musings on Marketing and Public Relations, and president of Communicator for Hire, in Franklin. "A company would be better off allocating charitable dollars to organizations and activities that will enhance its image, or increase the awareness or credibility of the company among key audiences."
Called strategic philanthropy, Hosmanek Kaiser said this type of charitable giving supports business and marketing objectives.
"For example, strategic philanthropy looks at the percentage of the fundraising goal a contribution will cover," she said. "In some cases, donations that comprise less than five percent of the total fundraising goal render little benefit. They receive little, if any, public recognition."
On the other hand, Hosmanek Kaiser said, large donations tend to provide significant marketing and public relations opportunities.
"To maximize the impact of charitable dollars, it might be wise to enter into an ongoing partnership with one or two organizations, and then devote all dollars and volunteer hours to those organizations," Hosmanek Kaiser said. "Long term, this strategy may reap the most benefits for a company."
When engaging in strategic philanthropy, Hosmanek Kaiser suggests that a company adopt a formal, written charitable giving policy. "This will speed the processing of multiple requests, and ensure that contributions focus on company priorities," she said.
Once policy and procedure have been established, it is important to develop a plan for maximizing the benefits of contributions. "Strategies must be developed for communicating with employees, investors, customers, vendors, the media, and the public," Hosmanek Kaiser said.
For example, employee newsletters or e-mail messages can be used to report charitable efforts to employees. Newsletters, sales materials, or annual reports can be used to report key donations to investors, customers, and vendors. News releases, issued by the company or the organization receiving the donation, will alert the media and the public to charitable giving.
"Strategic philanthropy creates a win-win situation for companies and charitable organizations," Hosmanek Kaiser said. "Charities receive much needed funds or volunteer time, and a company significantly enhances its image among employees, investors, customers and vendors, prospects, the media and the public.

Sept. 27, 2002 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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