Helping Your Community (and Your Bottom Line) Through Event Sponsorship

If your business is anything like a typical café, you’ve been solicited for donations by all kinds of charities and clubs. It’s important for small businesses to be good neighbors, but you probably can’t afford to write checks for everybody. I have an alternative that will let you contribute and turn a profit.

It’s simple: Host the organization’s meetings or fundraising events, and donate a percentage of the sales that the events generate. A one-time donation of $50.00 is nice, but 5% of a $3,000.00 week is better (three times better, in fact).

Pledging an open-ended donation like that gives the organization an incentive to send customers to your store, and it’s likely that it will be the first time many have visited you. Plus, since you’re hosting the event, you’ll get the benefit of the organization’s publicity for it. You probably won’t have to pay a cent up front.

This arrangement gets decision-makers involved, which strengthens the relationship between your business and their organization, which can lead to larger promotions in the future.

There are four key points to consider when planning this type of fundraiser:

1. Balance your contribution against your profit margin. The percentage of total sales that you donate subtracts directly from your overall profit margin, e.g. donating 15% of sales that normally bring 40% profit leaves you with 25% profit. Don’t pledge more than your average profit margin, or you will lose money.

2. Set clear conditions. The first time you do this with an organization, you may have more luck promising a minimum contribution plus a percentage of total sales if sales exceed a certain amount. If you normally expect $500.00 in sales on Wednesday, set your floor there or slightly higher to encourage more promotion.

3. Get the point across. Write up a proposal for this type of fundraiser that you can hand out to interested parties. Solicitors generally aren’t decision-makers, so written information that they can take back with them will be more successful at getting the right kind of interest than conversation alone. You may want to preemptively post a notice somewhere in your store instructing visitors to ask about your fundraiser program—you never know what connections your customers might have.

4. Give feedback. Your customers and the organization you’re supporting will feel more confident about your fundraiser’s success if you provide accurate, transparent reports. If you’ve set a target sales number, update your progress hourly on a chalkboard or by filling in a drawing of a thermometer. Once the fundraiser has ended, give a concise report of how it performed and how much you’ve contributed. If you want to get detailed, highlight what times and which items generated the most sales so you can get even more out of future events.

This doesn’t have to be a strategy just for the holidays – now is the perfect time for you to start working with extracurricular clubs, summer festivals, volunteer groups, and so on. Look to the long term—fundraisers might not bring in a boatload of profit right away, but they can bring you an installed base of loyal, passionate customers if done right.

Help Your Business By Giving Back to the Community

The holiday season is the most profitable time of the year for many cafes, and it is very easy to become preoccupied with profit, sales, shipping schedules, inventory and business in general. Of course, these matters require a good deal of attention, but it is also important to remember why we celebrate. As a business owner, you have an ability to help both the community and your business. Implementing a donation jar or donating proceeds from sales is a good start, but it doesn’t take a lot of time or energy to go the extra mile. Many businesses place a giving tree in their shops which allow customers to adopt a child or family. Some cafes have found that customers, when prompted, will donate a dollar upon purchasing their latte. In previous years, we’ve suggested putting coupons for free drinks on your giving tree, too. Other customers have become a donation drop-off point for coats, toys, canned goods, etc. Bring an unwrapped toy and get a BOGO coupon? Whatever works.

No matter what you choose to do, make sure that the cause does some real good. Investigate, and find out who your charity helps. Go with a local charity to help strengthen your businesses’ ties to the area around you. Evaluate your schedule and pick a day that doesn’t receive a lot of business. Open your store for the morning rush and close early to go work on a “Habitat for Humanity” house or to volunteer in a soup kitchen. You can make this a team-building event and even try to get customers involved. If you include your employees in the endeavor, you will find that the time spent away from the cafe will enhance the relationship between your staff members. Not only will you help your community, but the atmosphere and teamwork in your shop will improve dramatically.

It is easy to get bogged down when things get busy, but offering a lending hand to the community is mutually beneficial to both your business and the community around you.

Reid Jackson
Stockton Graham & Co.


Best Practices for Giving Back to the Community during the Holidays

Building strong community ties is a necessity for all business owners and there is no better time than the holiday season to give back and spread some good cheer to your neighbors and those less fortunate.

For some, this year has been tougher than any other, so giving up your profits might not be an option. There are, however, ways to help that can benefit various charities while helping you grow your customer base and sales numbers.

Becoming a drop-off point for items such as canned goods, winter clothing, toys etc. would be a hassle-free and helpful addition for all parties involved. Calling your local food bank or chapter of the American Red Cross is a great place to start. You could also sponsor a family for the season, encouraging customers to donate food and gifts for Christmas.

A current customer of ours previously coordinated a ‘Giving Tree’ after teaming up with a local non-profit in their area. The shop’s customers would pick from various paper ornaments with gift items on them for a neighborhood family. In the mix of various toys and food, the owners also placed coupons for free drinks and price discounts throughout so a customer could have a shot at getting a nice treat for wanting to give.

If you do decide to become a collections area for a charity, you might consider offering folks coupons for beverages when donations of items are made. For example, for every four cans of food a customer brings in, they receive $1.00 off a specialty beverage item. If you bring a guest and eight cans, receive a ‘Buy One, Get One Free’ drip coffee or latte.

Holding an event and donating a portion of the proceeds to charity would be a great idea. Contact other local businesses and offer to be a site for a holiday social with discounted drinks as an incentive and offer to donate $1.00 for every $5.00 spent to the businesses’ charity of choice.

For links, information and further assistance on how you can best reach out and help this year, give us a call at (800) 835-5943 to speak with your Customer Care Associate.

Michael Adams
Stockton Graham & Co.