How to Use Philanthropy as a Means of Marketing

In today’s competitive market place, it’s becoming harder and harder to promote one’s name, brand, or business. One unique and underused marketing strategy involves making a sizeable charitable donation.

If that sounds a little unethical, it’s not. There’s nothing with capitalizing on the opportunity to self-promote and do some good in the world­­­ at the same time—two birds, one stone.

No, seriously, it’s done all the time. In fact, it’s proven to be an effective strategy for celebrities, politicians, athletes, and business leaders alike.

Take, for example, this headline featured in The New York Times: Chance the Rapper Donates $1 Million to Chicago’s Public Schools. Is Chance the Rapper legitimately passionate about education and the arts? Absolutely! But was he also doing it as a means to garner positive press around his name? Probably. But again, there’s nothing wrong with that.

As a general rule of thumb, the larger the donation, the more press it’s going to get. But in some cases, a person or a company may not need to make national headlines. This is especially true of localized businesses whose target audience resides in the immediate area. In that case, a $20,000-$50,000 donation is enough to make the local papers or news stations.

But if the goal is to reach a wider audience, the donation will need to be substantially larger. How large? At least $100,000. But there are other factors to consider as well.

The type of charity that one gives to matters just as much (if not more) than the amount of the donation. Going back to the example of Chance the Rapper, his donation was particularly noteworthy due to his own personal background.

Chance the Rapper, whose real name is Chancelor Bennett, is a Chicago native who grew up in the West Chatham neighborhood. He decided to give to schools that are located in financially ailing districts—schools that coincidentally have a lot of minority students. Being African American, his donation made for a great story about how race intersects with money, education, and access to resources. That’s why the news of his donation made headlines.

Businesses looking to promote their services should seek to emulate this type of philanthropy. The best way to ensure that the donation will capture the media’s attention is to look at it through the eyes of the press. In other words, businesses should ask themselves this key question: is this a story that is engaging, interesting, and worth reading?


Appealing to Psychological Needs Can Garner More Donations

It may seem obvious, but the way you word fundraising appeals can have a pretty big impact on the success of those appeals. According to new research, minor changes to wording can increase donations by up to 300%. But before you go and rewrite all of your appeals, there are some things you need to know.

First of all, there is no secret weapon here. The study was based on 30,000 fundraising letters sent out to people across India. 20,000 of those letters were from a cold list and the rest were from a warm list. Researchers found that seeking out donors with the same religious beliefs increased donations by 55%, or by 33% if the target is of low-income status. By slightly modifying the fundraising appeals, researchers found a variety of ways to appeal to peoples’ sympathy.

At the core of all of this seems to be the idea that putting a face on the appeal helps. Making donors aware that they will be helping real, specific people seems to draw in more donations. But donors also want to feel like they’re a part of something greater than themselves. In order to create this sense of belonging, donors have to feel aligned with the organization’s missions and goals. Organizations have to cater to these psychological needs if they want to receive more donations.

That may feel manipulative, but the fact of the matter is that pure logic does not appeal to people as much as we might like to think. Marketing, and that’s what this is, most often appeals to human emotions, because let’s face it, we’re emotional creatures first and foremost. It’s all about convincing people to back a certain idea or cause, and making them feel good about doing so. This research has shown that by actually applying psychology to fundraising efforts, these efforts can really pay off, which is especially helpful in a world with an ever increasing number of charities.

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How To Get Into Nonprofit Work

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We often talk about how to donate properly to charity, how to choose which charity to support, and how important it is to be involved in charity work. But we don’t often talk about those who are behind the scenes in the hundreds and thousands of nonprofit organizations out there. Giving back can also be translated to working within the nonprofit sector, and there are many niches to fill.

A big part of running a successful nonprofit organization is having effective marketing and public relations practices. Nonprofits rely on their public image to survive since donations and sponsorships are what keep them alive. If you are interested in working for a nonprofit organization, this is one of the best areas to get educated in.

Obviously, another huge part of nonprofit organization is the fundraising department. These are the people responsible for raising money for operations and charitable work. Roles range from being on the front lines raising money and awareness to organizing events and seeing them through properly.

If your talents lie more on the “people” side of things, consider becoming involved as a mentor caregiver within an organization. This is a more hands-on role than many others, but the rewards can be great. Working for a nonprofit organization is a fantastic way to help people and add a whole lot of meaning to the work you do every day.

The first step to becoming employed in any of these areas would be to get in touch with the charity of choice and start volunteering. This will help demonstrate your commitment to the charity and will greatly increase your chances of getting hired in the future. Job listings will usually be posted online, and when they are you will have the benefit of being a known face among many unknowns. Be sure to add any of your volunteer experience to your resume and tailor it to the specific job you are applying for. And if you don’t get it on the first try, don’t give up. Sometimes it just takes a little perseverance and dedication.