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Marketing / Public relations, PR

Local community sponsorship: Think locally before donating

Often when a small business opens, local community organisations look to them for donations. They all have worthwhile aims, so how do you choose which to give local community sponsorship to?

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We’ve all seen those yellowing pieces of paper stuck to the wall behind shop counters, or in frames hanging forlornly on office walls:

“[Insert suburb name here] Primary School/Junior Sporting Club/Local Service Club Certificate of Appreciation”. 

If your local community provides the majority of your customer base, then you should be seen to be part of that community.

Here’s a checklist of questions to ask when deciding which organisations to donate to. They’ll make your decision easier and bring benefits to both your business and the community groups you’re being asked to give your local community sponsorship to:

  • Is the group or organisation local? Financial support for your local PCYC or SES branch is usually preferable to donating to those organisations’ state or umbrella groups.
  • Will my contribution make a difference? Donate $100 to your local hospital and, worthy as that cause may be, it will probably disappear into a multi-million dollar P & L. Donate $100 to a local women’s refuge and it may feed and clothe a needy person for a few days. Small amounts of money or time can make a much bigger difference to smaller organisations than large ones.
  • Can I tell people? Sad as it may be, some people could have prejudices or blinkered views about the activities of some groups in your community. Will you be proud for people to know you’re supporting this group or cause?
  • Can I give more than just money? Maybe the organisation would benefit from donations of your time, skills or products instead?

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"If your local community provides the majority of your customer base, then you should be seen to be part of that community."

Local or hyper-local?

It’s helpful to split your local community sponsorship contributions into two broad categories. Local is good, but hyper-local is even better.

Look at your customer base and, if a large proportion of them come from a small geographic area, consider supporting community organisations within that community.

On the other hand, if you have seven local netball teams asking for your support, perhaps supporting the netball league is the way to go. Likewise, donating to your local council’s Christmas appeal will help a number of local groups when they disperse the funds.

Be pragmatic

My suggestion is that you put your emotions on hold and treat this as a business decision. You can make a personal donation to any organisation at any time, but, if your business is being asked to assist, then your decision should be made in the best interests of your business.

Your donation may even be tax deductible.

Be proud to contribute

There is no shame at all in telling people that you have done this really good, community-minded thing. Put up that sign, include “Proud to support XYZ” in your advertising and put a link to their website on your website.

And if you’re supporting an event, for goodness sake make sure you go along and leverage the effort.

Has local community sponsorship been a good business decision for you? We’d love to learn about your experiences.

Trevor Weeding

works in the media industry and has an affinity for SME's and the challenges they face.

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