#41 - The Intersection point of business and charity

Jenny Mitchell is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) who empowers and educates fundraising professionals to make more money for their organizations through workshops and online training programs. She joined me on the podcast to share the value in businesses getting involved with charitable organizations.

Together we debunked myths that business owners aren’t charitable. Charities sometimes approach business owners with the wrong ask, but when a business owner approaches the right charity – great things can happen!

Sponsorship and marketing

Sponsorship is a business decision that comes out of a marketing budget. So, when investing in a sponsorship opportunity, charitable or otherwise, it is normal for a business to look at the return on investment. That could be potential buyers they will be in front of or visibility of their logo. It’s Jenny’s job to make sure charities understand the marketing value of the sponsorship opportunities they offer to make sure it is a good fit with a business, i.e. you don’t want a toy store investing in sponsoring a beer tent at a charity event because it probably isn’t a good fit for their charitable dollars. From a business point of view, you need to think about what a good charity for your business will be as well.

How to get involved with the RIGHT charity for your business

Be clear about who your target audience is

When looking at getting involved with a specific charity, ask yourself about your target audience: what do they do in their spare time – what do they care about? The key is to find an organization that speaks to your client’s values as well as your business’ values.

Create a partnership

Instead of doing one-off sponsorships, look at charitable organizations that speak to you on a higher level and that you could create a partnership with.  Find a way to partner with them for mutual advantage – so it is beneficial for both parties and it will be a long term relationship; this creates more measurable experiences to ensure everyone is getting what they need and what they want.

Think about why you are getting involved

Showing your social responsibility and value to your investors and stakeholders as well as employee engagement could all be reasons why you are getting involved with a certain charity. If you want to show your employees appreciation you could align your business with a charity that would create a deeper relationship for everyone.

Remember: Bigger is not necessarily better

Don’t think you have to go big when it comes to charity involvement – the bigger the sponsorship dollars the longer it will take to confirm and get sign off on, whereas smaller means you can get creative and if you are a small business you may be able to get creative in your offerings i.e., offer your business space for a board meeting. If you want to get involved with a charity, but are not sure how simply reach out and have a conversation with them.

Open the lines of communication

Don’t wait until a sponsorship is up for renewal, engage with charities and get to know them more intimately from the very start – it will result in maximum impact for both parties.

Close the loop

In the modern world of social media, why not announce to the charity via Twitter or that you are donating proceeds from a business engagement or sale to them. This is a part of closing the loop – the second part would be to follow up with those who participated in the event to let them know you donated and the final tally or result. People crave connection and those who know they helped a charity want to know about it.


There are two kinds of volunteers – the burger flippers, who are the people who like to show up to a charitable event and participate and help out, and then there are the strategic planners, those who like to lean in at a board meeting and sit and contribute their thoughts.

Know which kind of volunteer you are and know that both are needed and wanted. If you show up you will be noticed and appreciated.

How to get started with a charity

If you want to meaningfully contribute to a charity then chose a charitable organization near and dear to your heart. As a business owner, think about if there is a place you can contribute your skills and experience.  What do you want to do? Who do you want to help? How can you help?

Research, reach out, and then schedule a meeting and get to know them and see if they will be a good fit. Take your favourite charity out for a date and see if they like the same kinds of things you do and then see if there is a way you can help them that would be mutually beneficial.

Volunteering and charity work should be a positive experience. 

Resources & Links

Jenny's web site

Blog post: Vikings, pirates and sponsors

Blog post: 5 tips for getting your board "on board" with sponsorship


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