How to Create an Easy and Effective Community Donation Strategy for Your Store or Restaurant

You’ve probably been approached hundreds of times to participate with local charities and asked to do everything from donate merchandise for silent auctions to springing for sponsorship dollars, organizing walking teams and buying tables at banquets.

Before you spend another dollar, take a minute to think about how you give your money, merchandise and time.

There are two ways to approach charitable giving. The first is altruistic. If you have a cause or passion in which you want to participate because it’s meaningful to you, by all means, do so. This is not a business decision, it’s one that comes from the heart.

The second is using charitable involvement as a business builder. For the purposes of this discussion, we’ll talk about the latter.

Let’s start with merchandise and gift card donations.

I highly recommend creating an annual budget and formal process for giving donations. This allows you to handle your giving gracefully and without creating bad feelings. You certainly don’t want to offend representatives of local organizations by having them think you are snubbing them or don’t take your community participation seriously. After all, they may be potential customers.

To avoid an uncomfortable situation, create a charitable donation request form for the organization to complete including their charity name, contact person, reason for the donation (i.e. silent auction, raffle, etc.), purpose of the charity, how long in business and their 501(c)3 number which a legitimate nonprofit must have and finally, what type of recognition you will receive for your donation, i.e. logo on all event marketing, signage at event, etc.

Explain to them:

•      As a small business, you have an annual budget for charitable giving

•      All requests must be submitted in writing

•      You evaluate all requests monthly, make your choices and will notify them of your decision at that time.

Be sure to review these forms on a regular predetermined timetable and notify all applicants of your decision.

The formal process will help mitigate bad feelings from the rejected parties and help you make the most of your charitable contributions.

Get Creative

There’s no law that says you need to give money or merchandise to support your local non-profits.  Think about:


Can your staff help at an event or fundraiser?

Creating an experience
How about a free wardrobe styling or haircut?  A cupcake baking or pizza making lesson? These experiences have great perceived value and help to build a one-on-one relationship with the potential customer.

After the giving

Keep the momentum going by continuing to yourself and your selected charities. Post signage in your store about upcoming events that your involved in. Promote them on your website and social media as well. At the end of the year, compile a list of your selected charities and encourage customers to include them in their charitable giving.

Bottom line

Take a few minutes to create a process and through in a couple of creative ideas. It will save time, make your store or restaurant stand out from the fray of ordinary gift cards givers and establish your business as a valuable member of your community

If you’d like a free copy of the Charitable Donation Form Template, go to

Until next time remember, you can do this!

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