Small Business

Cause Marketing in Action: Foojee and Global Village Project

Many of the nonprofit leaders I speak to are eager to align with companies for short-term sponsorships or long-term partnerships. And many of the small businesses owners I talk with want to be more charitable. It seems like an easy match, right? Not always.

Nonprofits are more likely to target individual donors or grants before approaching companies. And small businesses aren’t always sure how to implement a giving strategy, so they may only take advantage of opportunities that fall into their lap.

More often than not, it looks like a middle school dance with each occupying their own side of the gym. But I’m hoping to help fix that issue, and one way I’ll do that is by bringing you stories of philanthropy in action. Having an example to follow on the cause marketing journey can not only show you what a for-profit/nonprofit partnership looks like in action, but give you a glimpse of the magic it can create—on both sides.

So, on the eve of International Day of the Girl, I’m beyond delighted to tell you about the successful partnership between Foojee, an outsourced Apple IT department, and Global Village Project, the only school in the country dedicated to educating refugee girls who’ve had their education interrupted.

Lucas Acosta, the owner of Foojee is a long-time friend, and Amy Pelissero, head of Global Village Project, is someone I’ve heard about for years and am glad to finally meet. They are a fantastic case story of what is possible for a local social impact partnership.

 Amy Pelissero and a few of the students at Global Village Project

Amy Pelissero and a few of the students at Global Village Project

First, we’ll get Lucas’ point-of-view on the partnership, and then bring it home with Amy’s perspective. I loved reading their responses, and think you will too!

Why did you choose to partner with Global Village Project?

Amy and her team have created this education from scratch, and have proven it to be successful with hundreds of refugee girls. They’re doing such impactful work, and I wanted to be a part of it in some way.

Why is this cause important to you?

There are two main reasons why GVP is important to us. Education is near and dear to our hearts at Foojee. We feel that education has an opportunity to improve a life regardless of a child's parents, culture, or religion. Secondly, GVP is focused directly on a segment of our society that is often overlooked: refugee girls. Women, especially in developing countries, are often the last to be recognized and supported, and GVP is solely focused on them.

What are the benefits you provide to the nonprofit?

We provide all of GVPs IT services including Mac and iPad management, networking, and security, and we do it at no cost to them. Why not just give money? We could donate money, but GVP’s efforts are so close to Foojee’s values that we want to offer our strengths to their cause.

What has this partnership done for your internal culture?

We’re not here to just provide IT services. We can use our strengths for good. We’re doing IT work, yes, but we’re here to serve a bigger purpose. We can make a positive impact in our society by our work, and partnering with GVP gives us a tangible way to contribute to our purpose.

Has this partnership benefited you externally, for example with clients or other partners?

We’ve been able to partner with Apple’s volunteer program, which has been a great opportunity for all three organizations. We introduced GVP to our local Apple team and within a few months, Apple employees were volunteering at the school by helping teachers best utilize their iPads and Macs in the classroom.

What is your hope for the future of your partnership with Global Village Project?

My hope is that GVP can continue to assist more girls, and extend their reach into more communities. If Foojee can play just a small part of their success, then I’m happy to continue partnering with them.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Sign up to volunteer! The stories I hear every time I visit just send chills down my back. GVP is on the front lines of restoring hope and building foundations to an underserved segment of our society. Here’s a video we made a couple years ago about the school to learn more.


 Lucas Acosta of Foojee

Lucas Acosta is passionate about Apple technology and people. If it’s got an Apple logo on it, his company, Foojee, makes it work in business and education. Lucas has been converting Windows users since 1993 (at the age of seven).

When he’s not building Foojee, you’ll find him reading about tech and business, crafting fine coffee, running, catching up on his favorite TV shows, or hanging out with his wife, Cristina and their daughter, Emilia.

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Here’s what Amy had to say.

Other than simply getting your IT needs managed, how has this partnership benefited GVP? What makes Foojee a good partner?

GVP was connected with Foojee in 2014—just as I was finishing my first year as Head of School—and I feel certain that our partnership has been foundational to the tremendous growth we have seen over the past four years. When we met, GVP was tightly strapped financially, and the pro bono work Foojee provided allowed us to broaden our services and our capacity across the board at a time when we could not otherwise afford to do so.

We were able to invest in new laptops, interactive whiteboards for our classrooms, online assessments and learning platforms for our students, and a STEAM and Career Exploration program because of what they were providing.

Foojee also acted as a powerful connector. They introduced us to Apple Education support services, Apple Store volunteers, and new potential friends and donors through their strong social media presence and the powerful promotional video they produced highlighting our partnership.

In addition to allowing us to expand and strengthen our services and our capacity to do the good work we do, Foojee provided us with knowledge, skills, and leadership that we desperately needed around IT and education.

Our partnership with Foojee has allowed us to build and develop a model STEAM program for refugee teenage girls with limited English and schooling and to enhance our program’s impact. GVP would not have been able to integrate and take advantage of technology in so many powerful ways without Foojee. They have provided invaluable support for our staff and students and directly and positively impacted the lives and learning of our students.

Foojee’s partnership has strengthened GVP in so many ways, including adding strength to our voice, our mission, and our vision of ensuring that refugee girls have the education they need to pursue their dreams. They believe in the work we do, stand beside us, and support us. We know that our strong collaboration allows us to join together to create a bigger impact in our community and dream a better world.

How do partnerships in general benefit both your internal and external culture at GVP?

In August we started our 10th academic year at GVP! Founded in 2009 by a handful of visionary volunteers with big dreams and a very brave first class of 30 students, GVP has become a place where we make a difference and dream a better world, one girl at a time.

Since our inception, we have served 225 refugee girls with limited English and interrupted formal schooling in our all-day academic program. Currently, 37 of our graduates have gone on to graduate from high school and 26 are enrolled in or have graduated from college.

Given that 75% of older newcomer refugee students do not complete secondary school and only 1% of refugees access tertiary education, we are proud to report that 96% of GVP alumnae who completed our program continue their education beyond our school. We depend on partners like Foojee to turn our dreams and our students’ dreams into a reality.

GVP’s founders understood the power of a strong community of support and imagined and created a place where a village of support enabled them to start and sustain a brand new school for refugee girls. GVP is the only school in the nation dedicated to educating newcomer refugee teenage girls.

We are certain that we have been able to make a difference for almost a decade now due to the strength and support we have found in our friendships and partnerships. We rely on our connections and relationships to influence our ways of thinking and doing, and are incredibly humbled by the opportunities our partners have opened to us. Together, we are transforming lives, our work, and our world.

What is your hope for the future of the partnership with Foojee?

I hope that our partnership will continue to develop and deepen with time. I see a future where we generate more recognition for the good work both organizations are doing, where we can help each other increase connections and meet new potential partners, and where the relationship is more evenly balanced.

Foojee has done so much for GVP, and we aim to give back to them in all the ways that we can. Specifically, I hope that we can continue to work thoughtfully and strategically to increase brand recognition and media coverage, to increase sales and funding, to attract new donors, volunteers, and clients, and to inspire change.

What do you wish more for-profit organizations knew about partnering with nonprofits?

Positive collaboration allows organizations to join together and make even bigger strides in bettering their community and improving the world. The end result of this kind of collaborative partnership is that both organizations are stronger.

Working with nonprofits can provide for-profit employees and leaders with a stronger sense of purpose, engagement, and create recognition for the good they are doing. Nonprofit partnership is a worthy and wise investment of resources.

Anything else you’d like to add?

We strongly believe in the power of collaboration and community—and in the power of each one in a partnership to positively influence and impact the other. We are deeply grateful to Foojee for their strong support and for the impact they are making in our school and in our students’ lives each and every day.


 Amy Pelissero of Global Village Projec

Amy Pelissero is the Head of School at Global Village Project, a special purpose school for newcomer refugee teenage girls with limited English and formal schooling. She has more than 20 years of teaching experience with students from preschool through adulthood, and strong ties to the refugee community.  

Amy lives in Decatur, GA with her husband and two daughters, and loves reading, writing, travel, live music, and time with family and friends. 

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  Here’s a behind-the-scenes peek at a cause marketing partnership. Having an example to follow on the cause marketing journey can not only show you what a for-profit/nonprofit partnership looks like in action, but give you a glimpse of the magic it can create—on both sides.

 Kristi Porter of Signify

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing and consulting services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I also teach solopreneurs and small businesses how to incorporate philanthropy and giving strategies. I believe that cause-focused organizations are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


2 Simple Ways to Keep Your Website and Work Protected

Okay, let’s face it. Few of us lean in with anticipation when we start talking about intellectual property protection and legal stuff. But you know who does? My friend, Christina Scalera.

Christina was my business mentor for just over a year, and boy, did I learn a lot from here! She’s super smart, and removes a lot of the confusion and barriers to protecting your company and assets. Her genius business idea is The Contract Shop, a place to grab most of your legal needs in just a few minutes.

While you may not have any contract needs at this moment, most all of you will have a website (or will soon). And, guess what—it needs protecting.

I used to freelance write for a website developer, and we once found a site that was almost entirely copied from his design! Lawyers got involved, and the website got taken down, but it was just plain weird. I mean, who does that?

And while you may not get your website ripped off, you do need to protect the time, effort, and money you’ve put into it. I love writing websites for my clients, and would be heartbroken if anything happened to them.

Besides, you have your mission to think about, not to mention the secret sauce of the way you work. There’s also any proprietary photography and other assets. It’s all those details that add up to your beautiful and unique brand.

So, while this may not be the most exciting topic to discuss, it’s super important! Give it a read, and see what you think. Plus, Christina makes legalese a little more fun.

 2 Simple Ways to Keep Your Website and Work Protected

You’ve got the shiny new website, blog topics nailed down, beautiful social media graphics, and curated photos to drive your mission home. You’re almost ready to announce the launch of your brand spankin’ new website!

But whoa—hold up for just a minute, buckaroo!

Have you posted the Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions on your site yet?  

Some of you are nodding along, and some of you are saying, “Wait, what?! What the heck is that?”

There’s no need to get freaked out! These two bits of legalese aren’t hard to understand and use, but it is a good idea to have them displayed prominently on your website. In fact, you could be violating federal law if you don’t.

So let’s talk about what they are, and what you need to do.


Privacy Policies

At their heart, Privacy Policies are intended to create transparency between users (in our case, readers) and yourself via your blog or website.

If you read blogs (like this one!), then you know that you leave little bits of your personal information behind when you visit. Things like your IP address, your name (or username), and email. If you make a purchase, there’s even more personal info that can be collected by the seller.

A Privacy Policy informs your visitors what information is collected from them when they visit your site, how you use that information (i.e: emails for your newsletter), and who else has access to the information (like your website hosting company).

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires that any webpage collecting information from consumers, and/or that uses cookies, have a Privacy Policy available to visitors.

Not only is it legally required, but having one builds a greater sense of trust with your readers and makes you look more professional.


Where do I get a Privacy Policy?

Creating and implementing a Privacy Policy doesn’t have to be hard. You can start with an attorney-approved template, and then customize it to your situation.

You can also take note of what similar organizations use for their Privacy Policy. While I’m not recommending that you simply copy and paste, you’ll likely run across a few things you haven’t thought of, and you’ll get a sense of how a Privacy Policy can be made to represent your brand.

While this is the cheaper option, if you want to just get ‘er done and move on sans any worry or weird Frankenstein-ish policies you put together yourself, click here and snag your policies today.

Terms and Conditions

A basic Terms and Conditions policy tells people what they can and cannot do with your original content (like your photos, written words, or that cool idea you talked about in your last blog post). If you also sell content, it can be extended to protect you in the event that someone wants a refund or shares your content illegally.

It’s not at all uncommon for photos and content to be shared—with or without the permission of the creator—and often without credit. If this happens to you, what recourse do you have?

This is where a Terms and Conditions can help protect your interests. If you’ve clearly spelled out that you need to be asked for permission before your content is shared, then you’re on firmer ground if you need send a cease and desist letter or claim copyright infringement.

Just like the Privacy Policy, having a Terms and Conditions puts you on the level with your readers and consumers, lets them know that you’ve given thought (and care!) to what you’re doing and creating, and gives them clear instructions on how they can interact with your content.


Where do I get a Terms and Conditions policy?

Here again, you can cobble together your own, or start with a solid, attorney-approved Terms and Conditions template and customize it, which should cover everything you need and some things you might not have thought of.

Now you’re ready to rumble (legally-speaking anyway)!

I want to mention a couple other things before I wrap this up.

First, make sure that both the Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions are posted with a prominent and direct link on your blog or website footer somewhere.

Second, don’t stress too much about making sure your policies cover every tiny thing. You can always update them as you go along. (Pro tip: It’s also a nice thing for your visitors if you include a “last updated on” date at the top of your policies, and make sure you mention that the policies can be updated at any time.)

Third, and finally, if you have visitors from the European Union, you should check out this article to make sure you have that extra step covered.

The moral of the story? Privacy Policies and Terms of Conditions are important. Don’t ride the range without one! (Or launch a website… you know what I mean. ;)

Note: Links are affiliate links, but I have Christina’s Privacy Policy, Terms and Conditions, and Independent Contractor templates myself! They are awesome and so easy to use.


 Christina Scalera, The Contract Shop

Christina Scalera is the attorney and founder behind The Contract Shop, a contract template store for creative entrepreneurs, wedding professionals, and coaches.

When she’s not staring at a computer or awkwardly standing on cafe chairs for the perfect overhead latte photo, you can find her in the woods doing things that are sometimes dangerous but always fun, like riding horses, skiing, and reluctantly camping.

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 A basic Terms and Conditions policy tells people what they can and cannot do with your original  content  (like your photos, written words, or that cool idea you talked about in your last blog post). If you also sell content, it can be extended to protect you in the event that someone wants a refund or shares your content illegally.

 Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing and consulting services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I also teach solopreneurs and small businesses how to incorporate philanthropy and giving strategies. I believe that cause-focused organizations are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


Ask the Experts: Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Each month, I invite guest contributors to speak about timely, relevant, and sought-after topics that are important for cause-focused organizations like yours to be aware of as you grow. For September, Lauren Dawson will be talking about diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Lauren is a former intern from a previous job, and we recently reconnected because I was researching diversity and inclusion for a client project. I came across this awesome report from LinkedIn, and after digging a little deeper, realized that Lauren actually works in that department for the business networking giant.

So, I thought this could be a fantastic topic to address here on the blog as hiring and culture are always on the minds of small business owners. As expected, Lauren has some excellent information and advice for your nonprofit or social enterprise!

 Ask the Experts: Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Q: What are the latest trends for diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

A. Some may actually say that diversity and inclusion is the trend of the year, and I’m hoping the attention will continue until it's obsolete. In the era of social media justice, campaigns like #blacklivesmatter and #metoo are the norm, and we're seeing that shift for diversity and inclusion as well.

Customers, employees, and other stakeholders are flexing in powerful ways to influence company decision-making. Where diversity and inclusion may have been restricted to messages of tolerance and team trainings before, it has now expanded to include products, customers, policy work, and more. As a result, employee resource groups are evolving their advocacy to align with business strategy and, by extension, receiving more opportunities to develop and be recognized for their leadership skills.

The latest trend in the tech world as it pertains to diversity and inclusion is the idea of belonging along with the emphasis on inclusion. Because of the laser focus on workforce representation of under-represented groups in tech, some companies had invested in their hiring activities with little movement in the overall representation numbers.

Now, in addition to hiring, investments are being made to increase retention by influencing how people make each other feel and help each other grow in the workplace: inclusion and belonging. With that being said, representation matters and the focus on representation metrics has been a powerful tool to motivate action and attract attention to this important issue.

Q. What's the biggest mistake you see people making in regards to diversity and Inclusion?

A. I think it’s a big mistake to create separate processes and responsibilities for “diversity activities." For example, the diversity team should not be responsible for “diversity hiring,” in my opinion. It should be responsible for designing and implementing strategies to enable the talent acquisition teams and hiring managers to get more diverse candidates in the hiring process and make them more successful.

In general, diversity and inclusion teams should be responsible for folding diversity, inclusion, and belonging into existing activities rather than creating new ones. In some cases, it is necessary to temporarily create a new role or process to manage the change or to pilot a new idea. However, the long-term goal should always be to empower, educate, and equip all employees and teams to infuse diversity, inclusion, and belonging into all business activities.

 

Q. What's your best piece of advice for people interested in diversity and inclusion?

A. In general, my best piece of advice is for people to embrace what they don’t know and proactively seek differing opinions and viewpoints.

Many studies over the years have proven that diverse teams win. In fact, McKinsey’s Why Diversity Matters 2018 report asserts that companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have higher financial returns than their respective industry medians.

I believe it’s a competitive advantage, especially considering the increasing demographic changes and global mobility of people and commerce. Every individual can more authentically and sustainably develop their own capacity for teamwork when they align with the principles of diversity, inclusion, and belonging. For people leading these initiatives, patience is key because sustained change takes time to build, and fast change can often be counterproductive given the complexity of what we’re trying to do.

 

Q. What's one thing readers can do this week to improve their own efforts?

A. Lean in to your own ability to build relationships with people who are different from you, inside and outside of the office. Start a conversation with a colleague that you’re not as comfortable connecting with by asking them what inspired them to work at the organization.

Not only does this help create deeper connections and working relationships, but it also helps you develop cross-cultural competency. Learn more about this approach to connection on Charles Vogl’s website.

 

Q. Do you have any resources to share that might be helpful for people wanting to learn more about diversity and inclusion?

A. I recommend subscribing to Fortune’s RaceAhead newsletter for business and societal news related to diversity.


 Lauren Dawson, LinkedIn

Lauren Dawson is an HR Specialist on the Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging team at LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network. She loves karaoke and brunch, and when she’s not in San Francisco, you can usually find her with friends and family in her hometown of Atlanta, GA.

Connect with Lauren on LinkedIn



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  Hiring and culture are always on the minds of small business owners, and few topics are bigger these days than diversity and inclusion. So, I asked Lauren Dawson of LinkedIn to provide some insights on the trends and best practices for nonprofits and social enterprises.

 Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing and consulting services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I also teach solopreneurs and small businesses how to incorporate philanthropy and giving strategies. I believe that cause-focused organizations are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


5 Reasons Why Giving Back is Good For Business

Quick note: During the summer, we'll only be publishing one blog post per month as we focus on some new activities and allow you some down time without falling behind on content.

Call it Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), cause marketing, philanthropy, a social impact program, corporate citizenship, or simply giving back—doing good is good for business. From entrepreneurs to corporate giants, it's becoming more clear than ever that giving back is the new black.

But why?

Sure, it's a fine idea to say that incorporating philanthropy and giving strategies into your business is a positive decision. And for decades, many business leaders only thought that cause marketing was a nice PR strategy without a lot of substantive results. But times are a changin', my friend! In fact, I'll give you five reasons why this kind of goodwill is actually a shrewd business move.

 5 Reasons Why Giving Back is Good For Business

I get it: The first rule of business is that you have to make money. No surprise there. But what If I told you that you could indeed make money and have a positive impact? Interested?

 

Attract and Retain Customers

According to a 2017 study by Cone Communications, nearly nine-in-10 (88%) Americans say they would buy products from a company leading with purpose.

^^^ I suggest you reread that fact. Go ahead; I'll wait.

Wow—that is an enormous benefit to your bottom line! You want to increase sales? This is one surefire way to do it.

Just think about your own behaviors. I realize that this subject is right up my alley, and may seem like a no-brainer for someone like me. But I have plenty of friends and family members who aren't in this space.

To demonstrate, let's look at an example. I've sold plenty of Warby Parker glasses in my day—and I've never worked for the company. However, people around me have casually mentioned that they're in search of a new pair of glasses. I then ask them if they've heard of WP, and many times, the answer is no. I tell them that WP has an awesome one-for-one model where they donate a pair of glasses to someone in need with every pair sold. And their prices are extremely competitive with many retail brands.

Now my friend has a choice to make: They can go to any retail outlet and pick a pair of glasses off the shelf, or they can purchase from Warby Parker. For many people (about 88% as we noted), it's an easy choice to grab a stylish pair of WP's that will benefit them and someone else. And that's how it works. It's that easy.

Most of us want to believe that we have purchase power. We want to believe that our decisions do make a difference. And, guess what, they do.

Now, let's take into account another aspect of that example: word-of-mouth marketing. <-- This is the one marketing tactic to rule them all. It's better than any form of advertising. It's also the hardest to manufacture. 

That same study by Cone Communications also said that 78% of those surveyed with tell others about companies with a social impact program. Think about it: we all love to share both our positive and negative purchasing decisions. And it's incredibly persuasive. Just consider those Yelp and Amazon reviews you diligently read.

Finally, by partnering with a cause-focused organization, you automatically increase your reach, and in turn, increase sales. That nonprofit or social enterprise will be thrilled to work with you, and probably more than happy to share about the relationship with their own tribe whether there is a direct cost benefit or not.

Attract and Retain Talent

If you've gone through the hiring process for your company, you know that it takes time, effort, and money. And if you've gone through that process repeatedly, you know that it often takes more money to hire and train a new person than it does to retain an employee. This is another jam that being a good corporate citizen can get you out of.

A 2016 survey of Millennials and Gen Z by Deloitte found that an "overwhelming percentage of respondents feel that business success should be measured in terms of more than financial performance (83% and 80%, respectively). They realize profits are both necessary and a priority, but they believe that corporations should set out to achieve a broad balance of objectives that include:

  • Making a positive impact on society and the environment;

  • Creating innovative ideas, products and services;

  • Job creation, career development and improving people’s lives;

  • An emphasis on inclusion and diversity in the workplace."

And, in case you were wondering, according to the US Census, there are 83.1 million Millennials, accounting for one quarter of the country's population, and 61 million Gen Zers. That's a lot of potential employees!

But the important thing to remember here is that, no matter what generation we each fall into, everyone is searching for significance and meaning. And because we spend so much of our lives working, we want those hours to count. You may be in a great position to make that happen.

 

Build and Differentiate Your Brand

We've hit on this a little bit already, but I don't want to skim over the fact that having a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) element can help your brand achieve recognition and stand out. People may either remember your name better, or it may give them some aspect of your brand to search for. You become more memorable, and you'll automatically be associated with a positive image.

Speaking of, and I hope this doesn't happen to you, but there are times when crisis may strike. Your product or service may harm someone, you may make a bad financial decision, or your leadership may fail you. In these instances, one of two things could happen: either your reputation does not recover, or it just takes a hit. In that same survey above from Cone Communications, they found that 67% of people would be more willing to forgive a purpose-driven company if that company makes a misstep versus a traditional company. 

Increase Your Network

Even though I'm an introvert, I love growing my network. I think the more people I know doing good things, the better. I talk to people all the time that probably won't ever become clients, but I'm grateful to know they exist because it may serve a different purpose down the line.

There are so many instances when we tap into our networks:

  • Someone is hiring or needs a job

  • Someone is looking for a volunteer, or wants to volunteer

  • Someone can recommend a product or service

And there are so many more examples! Heck, it's been a very long time since I worked at hospitality public relations firm, but friends still come to me looking for restaurant recommendations.

This happens all the times in our lives, and more so when you're an entrepreneur or small business. We tend to keep our heads down and plow through the day, sometimes only coming up for air when a need arises. In that instance, it's good to know the people who can help you find an immediate solution to your problem or question.

 

Demonstrate Your Personal and Business Values

According to Nonprofits Source, 72% of all giving in 2017 came from individuals ($281 billion). So, if you're reading this, it's highly likely you donated to charity. And that's probably why you're interested in this subject in first place. You want to be more generous.

Corporate giving is just another way to express your personal and business values. And whether you're selling plumbing supplies, photography sessions, homemade cupcakes (Can we be friends?), or software, people want to know there is a living, breathing person behind that logo. Humanizing your brand is your greatest marketing tactic, not that I just want you to think about it that way. 

I know as a business owner (and human) there are things that make you happy and sad. And I'd love to know what that is. Your customers and would-be customers feel the same way.

Giving back through your business is also a great way to support your local economy, which in turns, ends up giving back to you as well. American Express released a survey stating 90% of consumers said that Small Business Saturday has had a positive impact on their community. Just imagine what could happen if we lived this way throughout the year! (And many of us do!)

But supporting your local economy also means bettering the lives of those around you. And when you help people live better lives, make more money, and increase their own profit margins, they'll be in a better position to purchase from you as well. It's the circle of (business) life.

Bonus: Benefits Come Tax Time

if you're just looking at the bottom line, then we can't ignore the fact that charitable giving offers a tax break. You actually get credit from the government for doing good. Yep, Uncle Sam tips his hat to you.

But I firmly believe that even if this is the primary reason you begin giving back, it won't stay that way for long. Generosity is infectious, and once you begin working with a cause and contributing toward solving an issue, you'll learn just what the Grinch did—your heart will only continue to grow.

Before we leave this section, I also want to make a quick note. If getting a tax break isn't important to you at this stage of business, or you have the ability to work with more than one organization, I suggest taking a look at social enterprises.

It's true that some nonprofits are social enterprises, but in my opinion, not all of them are. Many social enterprises are for-profit entities that are directly tied to a cause. I already gave you the example of Warby Parker above, but there are also companies like LSTNTOMS, Sevenly, Gifts For Good, To The Market, and literally thousands of others. And as an emerging business model, there are lots more small businesses like them who could use a volunteer, partner, or sponsor like you. 

For example, my friends here in Atlanta at Dr. Bombay's Underwater Tea Party and Dwell are both very small operations tackling very big issues. They would be delighted to hear from solopreneurs and small businesses looking to play in the social innovation space.

 

What about the little guys?

If you've read this far, you likely fall into one of two camps. The first one is that you are a believer, and just needed the right push to get you started. If this is you, go forth and do good! The second is that you agree with everything that I've said, but you're stuck at the HOW.

Sure, it's great for large companies to incorporate philanthropy and giving strategies, but you're a solopreneur or small business. What can you do? Will you just have to wait until you "make it"?

The grass is always greener, right? It seems much easier if you're making millions of dollars or have hundreds of employees. However, that isn't always true. As a small business, you're more flexible and adaptable. And you're already in a great position for creativity and innovation.

The really good news is that already have enough to give, and you can get started now.

 

No money, no problem.

From volunteering to donating services and products (also called in-kind giving), there are literally hundreds of opportunities for you to give back without breaking the bank. In fact, it may not require any money at all.

However, I do want to interject here and say that being able to donate large sums of money isn't a prerequisite for giving either. Every dollar is appreciated, and if you ask any nonprofit or social enterprise leader, it really does make a difference. (BTW, I asked for you!)

 

Getting Started With Giving

If you're a solopreneur or small business, my best suggestion to begin incorporating philanthropy and giving strategies is to start small. Begin with one relationship and one act.

Make a list of what you have to give, what causes and issues you support, and then find someone working in that space. I recommend that small businesses work with small nonprofits or social enterprises. You'll find a lot of common ground, and also be able to see your impact more easily.

If you don't have an existing relationship with a nonprofit you'd like to work with, attend one of their events, jump on their email list, or take one of the staffers out for coffee. You'll quickly determine if this will be a great fit for both of you.

After that, take baby steps. You (and the organization) may be super exited to get this relationship started, but take the time to date before getting married. Neither of you wants to get in over your heads and leave promises unfulfilled. That will only make it harder for each of you to take this step a second time.

Instead, test the waters, refine, and keep moving forward. You know . . . kinda like running a business.

And if you need help getting your giving strategy off the ground, let me know. I love facilitating good!

Already involved in giving back with your business? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!



PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

 Call it  Corporate Social Responsibility  (CSR), cause marketing, philanthropy, a social impact program, corporate citizenship, or simply giving back—doing good is good for business. From one-woman and one-man shows to corporate giants, it's becoming more clear than ever that  giving back is the new black .

 Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing and consulting services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I also teach solopreneurs and small businesses how to incorporate philanthropy and giving strategies. I believe that cause-focused organizations are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


Want to Grow Your Business? You Need Help.

Quick note: During the summer, we'll only be publishing one blog post per month as we focus on some new activities and allow you some down time without falling behind on content.

 

Here's one thing I know about you: You want your business to grow. 

Not everyone does. In fact, some people are quite content for their small business to stay small, which is totally fine. They're just looking for some extra money, and a side gig or a "professional hobby" will do. But I know you want to grow your business because it's not just about you. It's about your cause.

Whether you're a nonprofit or a for-profit with a social mission, you want to increase your organization's capacity and influence because you're fighting for something. You may not have a desire to become the next TOMS or Habitat for Humanity, but you do have a desire to help more people. You want to have a bigger impact. You want to do more good.

So, how do you grow your small business?

There's one simple way that I recommend you start thinking about today: Get help. Yes, it may be simple, but I realize it's not easy.

It's not easy to decide to spend the money. It's not easy to allocate your resources differently. It's not easy to bring someone new into your process. But I believe this one decision can make all the difference. 

It has for me, and I think it can do the same for you. And guess what? It may not even require hiring more staff.

 Want to Grow Your Business? You Need Help.

First of all, I realize it's a bit of a Catch-22. You'd be happy to spend the money to get more help...if you could only make more money in order to do so!

I've been stuck on that hamster wheel myself, and some days honestly, I still am. But there is also something to be said for the old adage, "You have to spend money to make money." And I believe that's true. Maybe deep down, you do too.

But, like I said, there's also plenty of good news! It may not require hiring more staff to get your organization to the next level. It may just require some creative, out-of-the-box thinking. Or some networking. Or some short-term effort. Regardless, though, it will require help.

Why? You can only do so much at your current level—even if you already have a small staff. 

The Facts About Small Business

  • The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council states that 89.4% of small businesses have less than 20 staffers. 

  • The Small Business Administration notes that about half of all small businesses make it to the five-year mark, with approximately one third seeing their 10-year anniversary.

  • When looking at just women-owned businesses, Small Business Labs tell us that 41% of my #girlboss peers only have between two and four employees, while 51% are solopreneurs!

  • Finally, this report by Babson College tells us that 70% of the small business owners they polled found it difficult to hire qualified employees.

Besides throwing a lot of numbers at you, what am I trying to say? First, growing a business is hard, but I don't have to tell you that! Second, there is another way to get the help you need and grow your business without necessarily growing your staff, at least in the early stages when bootstrapping is the name of the game.

So, how do you grow your business without hiring more staff?  Keep reading.

 

Getting to the Next Stage of Business

Check out an awesome article from Todd Herman on the "Five Stages of Business Growth." In it, he shows you exactly what you should be focusing on for each stage, which is incredibly helpful. I'm in Todd's program, and I can say that he is an very smart guy. Learning from him has been definitely benefitted my business.

If you want to make it to that five or ten year mark, you need help. If you want to make a bigger impact, you need help. And if you want to avoid burnout for yourself or your staff, you need help.

What does this look like? I think it looks like finding interns, learning from mentors, bartering for services, and/or hiring independent contractors. It could even mean a combination of all of those things—it has for me.

You only know so much. You only have so much time. Why not fill those gaps with people who are there to assist you or are better suited for those tasks? Be the leader who sees the forest, not just the trees.

As I talked about last summer, work ON your business, not IN your business.

Why Is Getting Help for Your Organization So Important?

Right about now, you may be asking yourself why you should be hiring interns, consultants, or indepdendent contractors, especially if it's going to cost you hard-earned money. I mean, what's the big deal? You can just look up a few more articles or take a few courses and figure out everything you need to know, right? Anything you need to learn is just a Google search away.

Yes, that's pretty much true, and I'm guilty of the same thoughts and questions. But there are some INVALUABLE assets that come with these roles. And I’d like to explain by telling you how I've utilized consultants/interns/contractors in the past, both personally and professionally.

  • They provide a set of fresh eyes. We can often lose perspective as we work on our own projects day in and out. Allowing someone to see them objectively can provide insight we couldn't gain otherwise.

  • They cost you less than you might think. While the initial investment may seem significant, especially if this process is new to you, remember that these people do not cost you insurance or other full-time employee perks. You also don’t have to take taxes from their payments.

  • They don't have to stick around long-term. Sometimes you just have a short-term need, or a season that requires an additional set of hands. These people rally around you when you need it, and not when you don't.

  • They can relieve stress from you and your employees. Often small organizations rely on a limited number of people to do a wide variety of tasks. Sometimes, however, these tasks are not suited to their skills. Consultants and third-party contractors who specialize in certain areas can be invaluable to helping you reach your goals, while taking the pressure off your team. This will either allow them room to breathe, catch up on their primary tasks, or take on new assignments within their wheelhouse.

  • They allow you to focus. Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should. You need to be working on the tasks and goals that specifically require your time and attention. If you have the ability to outsource beyond that, do it. Focus on the things no one else can do for your business.

  • They can provide expansion. These folks allow you to “go beyond” what you’ve already been doing. You can dream bigger, cast your net wider, and experience results you could not have had before at your current pace. But the ROI (return on investment) may be significant. Yes, it's important to consider the cost, but if you make more sales and donations than you would have without their help, it will be worth it!

 

Where Do You Find These Magical Creatures?

Well, of course, if you're looking for someone to help you with your writing, marketing, or communications needs, I'd be remiss not to mention that I can help you with those tasks. Whether you hate doing those kinds of things, or just need to focus on something else that's more deserving of your attention, I'm here. 

I launched Signify almost two years ago to help nonprofits, social enterprises, and other for-profits with a social mission with their marketing and communications. It’s been a crazy adventure! But I love being able to fill the gap for these types of organizations, especially the small ones that need my kind of help, but can’t afford a staffer or an agency.

Most of the people I work with just need help for a short period of time, so I have the ability to pop in and out, as needed. And, during that time, I can help move their mission forward. My goal is to make cause-focused organizations look and sound more professional so they can build a larger audience, increase sales or donations, and do more good.

But here are a few, other resources:

When in doubt, ask around. We all have our own networks, and most people are happy to suggest someone or something that might be able to help you. I also love asking in Facebook Groups because they're already built around tribes.

The point, though, is to not just sit and wonder. It's time to take action.

Hiring Tips From The Pros

I asked a few friends in these roles to share some advice with you. Keep these tips in mind when you hire independent contractors, freelancers, and consultants, so that you can make the best decision possible.

When hiring a graphic designer...

"The first step is to make sure you (and most importantly, your audience) enjoy their overall style. They don't need to have an exact portfolio example of what you're looking for, but the general tone should feel right. Second, I'd look to see if they've worked with similar organizations or have experience in your field. If you're a nonprofit, for example, it can be so helpful to work with a designer who already understands the nonprofit language. Third, consider the energy: the design process requires a lot of honest and open communication. It requires vulnerability on both sides. I think it's important that you feel comfortable with your designer and would enjoy meeting with them! So, ask for a discovery call or meeting to see if the right energy flows!

Your budget may require you to work with a less experienced designer, or a designer who doesn't have a distinct style yet. I wouldn't rule them out for those two reasons, but the energy has to be there."

- Madison Beaulieu, graphic designer and co-founder of Mad + Dusty

 When hiring a web designer...

"If you’re ready for your online presence to capture the essence of your brand, and work to attract clients, you’re ready to hire a web designer.

Before reaching out to an expert, spend time on their website and consider how it resonates with you. If it makes a great first impression, is engaging, and leads you to a clear call to action, you know they can do that for you. Having a beautiful website is one thing, but having one that works is another. My tip for you is to know that you need both!"

- Alison Chandler, website and visual brand identity specialist

When hiring an event planner...

"I think that a lot of people are naïve when it comes to the budget for any event. Many clients don’t know how much it costs to hire a good photographer, caterer, etc. so, they’ll spend money on little things and before they know it, they’re way over budget.

My advice: choose your top three Items and spend the bulk of your money there. My top three are always food, music, and alcohol. I like invitations, but they aren’t the most important item to me. Now, if you’re a graphic designer or your company sells paper, the invitations are probably really important to you and that’s ok. Make invitations one of your top three. The important thing is to focus on what’s most important to you, and then build the rest of your budget from there."

- Kristi Collins, certified wedding and event planner at CoCo Red Events

When hiring voice talent...

"It’s often easier to grab the admin assistant with the great phone voice, or the singing maintenance man for a quick 'read through' of your outgoing message, but resist the urge. It’s not enough to have a nice voice. A quality voice talent must be able to tap into the audience your trying to reach with the feelings you want to convey, so that anyone who hears it will want to take action.

Your message is too important for it to sound like it’s being read from a handwritten notebook. With intentional script writing and the right voice, you’ll move beyond your customer or donor’s heads and into their hearts."

- Jennifer Wilder, voice talent

When hiring any freelancer/contractor/consultant...

"When you hire an expert to help you in a certain area of your business—listen to them. Trust them. You hired them for a reason, so let them do the job they were hired for. Sometimes that means taking a leap of faith and doing something different than you're used to. Sometimes it means trying something new that you're not entirely sure of. Experimentation is what business is all about—trying something new to take your business to a new level."

- Kristen Miller, Sales Funnel Strategist | Social Media Manager | Digital Marketing

I echo all of these ladies, and many of the same principles apply to copywriters as well!

 

If not now, then when?

You may be stuck thinking that you don't have the money or time to find and hire contractors/consultants/freelancers/interns. I get it, and I've been there too. Plenty of times.

And I'm not discounting those statements. They're valid concerns. But here's what I will ask you, "If not now, then when?"

Make a plan to begin your search or interviews. Make a plan to save the money. Make a plan to ask for help. Otherwise, time will continue to fly by, and you'll be no better off in six months than you are today. After all, where were you six months ago, having these same exact thoughts?

I don't want that for you. Your mission is too important. I want you to grow, have a bigger impact, and do more good. 

You've got a cause that you're fighting for. It's time to fight just a little harder.



PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

 Whether you're a  nonprofit  or a for-profit with a social mission, you want to increase your organization's capacity and influence because you're fighting for something. So, how do you grow your small business? There's one simple way that I recommend you start thinking about today: Get help. Yes, it may be simple, but I realize it's not easy.

 Kristi Porter, Chief Do-Gooder at Signify

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.