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Let’s face it, as a company owner you are going to receive hundreds of donation requests in any given year. Sometimes, the number of requests you get in just one month can be staggering. The pile of requests generally gets stacked until you or a designated team can set the time to review them. Now put on top of that the number phone calls you get for donations. How are you supposed to manage all of this AND do your job?


I know all too well the challenges companies face with their giving. The most common complaint is managing the number of requests you have to say no to. Finding a way to say "no" is difficult because you don’t want to come across hard or appear as uncharitable. Part of you knows that most organizations have really great causes and their requests are needed and worthy. So then, what can you do to make the process easier for you and your company.


There are three tips I know will help you improve the way you communicate your giving program and will help diminish the number of times you have to say, "We’re sorry, but we cannot support&ldots;" (you know the rest).


1. Begin with your employees. Your employees are spokespeople for your company. Communicate to your employees the purpose and guidelines about your giving program. It should be a part of your New Employee Orientation program and use whatever internal communications to convey the focus or your giving. Keep employees updated with internal memos, company newsletter or bulletin boards.


2. Use your website. Post your giving program on your website. Make sure it has a link to it own page. Don’t bury it on the "company history" or "About Us" page. That actually sends a message that you’re making it difficult for people find. Also don’t get hung-up on using big fancy words such as, corporate community investment or corporate citizenship, etc&ldots; that is jargon for the field of philanthropy and other people look and say "huh?".  Keep it simple. If you have a signature program, most definitely that should be 100% of the time. An example is The Pampered Chef’s "Help WHIP Cancer". Put as much information as you can to convey your focus, purpose and guidelines for giving. What you want to do here is diminish the number of in-coming calls asking questions about our giving.


3. Develop marketing materials. Include your giving program in all company marketing materials and, if your budget permits, create marketing materials specifically for your giving. Don’t break the bank on fancy, 4 colored, slick pamphlets. It can be as simple as a larger sized postcard or insert card for your existing materials.


The most important thing you can do to decrease the number of times you have to say no to organizations is focus your giving. Over time, the nonprofit community in your town will learn about what you DO give to.  Besides, it helps them not waste their time drafting a proposal, collecting supporting materials, tracking down their 501 (c ) 3 letter ,etc&ldots; when they could be using that time wisely and more efficiently for their organization.

This Marketing article was written by Maggie F. Keenan, Ed.D on 4/24/2006

Maggie F. Keenan, Ed.D., is the Principal and Owner of givingadvice. We are a leader on philanthropy in the Southeastern region of the U.S. The firm works with companies and foundations to create giving programs that maximize their impact for communities and causes. We work with professional advisors offering philanthropic planning services that add value to their client relationships. or