Give Back Without Going Broke

If your business can't afford to make a monetary donation, consider an in-kind donation instead.
Chief Ideation Officer, CODA Concepts, LLC
June 25, 2012

For many small businesses the desire to give back is strong. But, despite their best intentions, not all small businesses make enough profit to give generous donations to the multitude of nonprofit organizations that are soliciting donations. However, most companies can offer products or services to help meet a specific need within the organization. This type of donation is often referred to as an in-kind donation and is just as valuable, and in some instances more valuable, than cash.

Many companies that cannot offer monetary donations rely on their products, services and expert skills to help local non-profit organizations. Here are a few real-life examples of how small businesses are giving back with in-kind donations:

Flying Wish Paper, a novelty paper that’s designed to send handwritten wishes into the sky, donates product to a variety of organizations, including the Make-a-Wish Foundation of Oregon and Arts for Ashes, for fundraising activities.

Baby K’Tan, manufacturer of newborn baby carriers, works closely with Operation Shower, an organization which celebrates the pregnant wives of deployed military, donating their products to be given to expectant mothers.

Mohan’s Custom Tailors, a New York based custom clothing company, has partnered the HOPE Program, donating suits to men who’ve completed the programs job training program and outfitting them for interviews.

Artitudes Design, a graphic design company, provides design services to Olive Crest, a leader in the treatment and prevention of child abuse in the Pacific Northwest. Artitudes Design has helped develop signage, catalogs, PowerPoint presentation and artwork for the organization’s annual fundraising gala.

There are three key characteristics behind a successful partnership, including:

Passion. If you’re going to donate significant time and energy to an organization or project be sure you have passion for the organization’s mission, vision and values. If you do not believe in the organization’s goals you are less likely to perform to your standards, or theirs.

Commitment. Don’t start what you can’t finish. Since your business isn’t getting paid, it can be easy to push the non-profit to the side in order to focus on paying clients. Set aside time devoted to the cause and don’t make promises you can’t deliver on. You may consider starting out small before diving in as a major contributor to an event.

Co-Marketing. Be sure to talk up the organization or event in order to spread word of your association and the organization’s mission to make the overall campaign more successful. If you own a brick and mortar store, don’t forget to place signage in and around your location. Additionally, you can use traditional and social media to reach out to your networks.

Providing in-kind donations is a win-win opportunity. Businesses are able to fulfill their desire to give back while showcasing their products and services and an organization receives much needed support. Additionally, the business gains the all-important opportunity for free publicity including sponsorship mentions, event signage and press recognition.

So, the next time a representative from a local organization approaches your business for donations don’t be so quick to say no. Brainstorm how you can help their fundraising campaign without dipping into your cash register. Not only will you help their organization, but the satisfaction of helping those in need will benefit you as well.

How does your small business donate?

Angela Stringfellow is a PR and MarComm Consultant and Social Media Strategist offering full-circle marketing solutions to businesses. Angela blogs via

Photo credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Chief Ideation Officer, CODA Concepts, LLC