Choosing a charity with which to involve your business can be a tricky task.
Obviously, doing so is really about helping the charity’s cause and serving those in need. However, you also want to make sure you’re creating mutual success and long-term relationships for your business, your customers, and yours business partners. Here are five points to remember when it comes to planning associated events.
1. Selecting A Charity To Support
This whole topic is an element of business that requires a delicate approach. A business’ efforts to partner with a charity should be motivated by the idea of supporting a good cause. However, that doesn’t mean a legitimate business shouldn’t receive press and recognition for its charitable efforts either. We all know that this is part of the reason charities and businesses partner; it’s meant to foster joint success. A charity should happily oblige when it comes to accepting assistance from a business, too, because the fact of the matter is this: When a good business gets behind a cause, it is destined to greatly accelerate progress.
Many good charities are out out there, so much so that choosing one to support through your business events can seem a daunting task. But the selection process doesn’t need to be complicated. You can choose to support a charity based on any parameters, really, though it helps to have some motivation that hits close to home. For our part, VLCM partners with the Huntsman Cancer Foundation—a Utah-based charity that raises millions of dollars each year for cancer research.
2. Participating In Other Charity Events
Before you plan your own charity event, get involved in someone else’s first. This gives you a chance to observe how things are run, but with a much lower degree of commitment than a title sponsor. You can be a sponsor at many different levels in local charity events put on by your customers, partnering companies, and suppliers.
At VLCM, we also use this approach to help recruit participants for our own charity events. Each year, we participate in about 30 golf tournaments with customers and other organizations. Such an event typically offers varying levels of sponsorship, including hole sponsors, co-sponsors, and, of course, the title sponsor. We use the opportunity to sponsor a hole as a way to engage with participants and invite them to attend our own charity golf tournament later in the year. We gather information from people via a simple form that we stock at the hole we sponsor, and then we contact them with additional information regarding our event as the date approaches.
3. Running Your Own Charity Event
Part of what makes attendance and participation at other charity events so fruitful is that you get the chance to gather ideas and inspiration from the events you take part in. Once you have determined you’re going to be putting on your first charity event, you’re going to want to keep a few things in mind.
The first place to begin is to determine what what type of event you want to run, and what your monetary goal will be for funds raised, donations collected, or whatever it may be. Depending on the type of event you’ll be holding and the audience you plan to have, I recommend making your goal common knowledge to those involved. When everyone has a common goal to work toward, it makes the cause all the more meaningful.
This brings into focus another very important preliminary to your event’s inception—its inspirational impact. The best place to start in your planning is to ask yourself this question: How do I want people to feel as they leave this event? You want your event to be a powerful and memorable experience for your participants so that they return each year to support your cause.
4. Securing Sponsors
In your quest to secure sponsorship for your events, you’ll have at least two types to consider. Trade sponsors are companies that come in and offer a trade (often merchandise) to be included in the event. For example, if you’re holding a golf tournament, you’ll need someone to provide drinks on the course. You can either foot the expense yourself as the title sponsor, or you can recruit Pepsi or Coca-Cola to be a trade sponsor. In the case of trade sponsors, you’ll have to create a formula that works for your particular circumstances. For example, you might ask Pepsi to donate $600 worth of soda and $1,000 worth of merchandise. This doesn’t go toward your monetary goal, but it helps in the logistics of the event, and Pepsi gets the marketing benefit from being involved.
You’ll also need cash sponsors for the revenue you plan to generate for the charity. When it comes to the actual raising of funds, cash sponsors play a huge part. If you have a company that wants to be a hole sponsor in a golf tournament, for example, then you have it pay for the hole, and it, in turn, can use the time to eventually talk to all the participants about its company and/or future events.
You’ll need to determine what the proper balance between trade and cash sponsors will be, though in most cases you should be recruiting more cash sponsors than trade sponsors; you don’t need excessive merchandising. Regardless of how many you recruit of either type, remember it’s of considerable importance to stay in constant contact with your sponsors to ensure they know what they need to know and have what they need to have for the event.
5. Logistics And Other Details
Logistics is a whole other story and article topic, but a few matters are worth mentioning here. In regard to making the event memorable, you want to make certain some perks or incentives are available for participation. Have free giveaways, incentive cash, prizes, refreshments, and many other tangible perks appropriate to your event and cause.
You also might consider the value of having an emcee for your event. VLCM has been running a charity golf tournament for more than six years now, but it wasn’t until our latest edition this past September that we discovered the benefits of having an experienced and notable emcee for the closing ceremonies.
At the end of the day, you want to make sure your event is about the charity—people having a good time for a good cause, and leaving with a memorable and positive experience. With this as your motivating factor, your efforts will be directed appropriately toward providing the proper support to all facets and aspects of the event.