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Five Ways to Do More with Your Community Donations

If you’re like most independent home improvement retailers, you consider yourself to be much more than a mere purveyor of goods and services. Your store is the place where the community gathers; you share your resources to help those around you. In doing so, you both help the community and perpetuate goodwill toward your business. While there is typically no lack of opportunities to give back to the community, there are ways to make the most of the opportunities in front of you. Here are five ways you can maximize your resources while giving back to your community.

Look for the most net value.

Sponsoring a large event means you might get your logo on a T-shirt or flyer or on a sign in the ballfield. However, if the event is too large, your logo is likely to get lost among all of the others. Instead, look for opportunities where you will give your store more exposure. This might mean looking for smaller-scale events or events where you can be a premium sponsor. Partnering with smaller associations also means you’ll have more opportunities to get to know more people in the organization and build meaningful business relationships.

Partner with schools.

Let local schools know you’re available to speak at career day, or that you’ll help students looking for materials for their class projects. As a resource, you’re giving your knowledge in a meaningful way and introducing yourself to students who might be the next generation of customers.

Don’t just give cash.

It’s easy to write a check, but there are other ways to donate to organizations that have more value. If an organization is looking for prizes for an event, for example, offer gift certificates to your store. This will draw the winner into your store, where they will likely spend more than the original amount. Also look for opportunities where you can donate labor from yourself or store employees. That gives you an opportunity to develop personal relationships that might be beneficial later. Remember that one of your greatest assets to some organizations is your business mind and your ability to plan and organize. Donating your time as a member of a board of directors or as a leader may be more beneficial than cash to the organization you are helping and offer you more opportunities to network and connect with other leaders in the community.

Keep an open mind.

Don’t say no to a request for help just because you don’t think the organization is relevant to your customer base. Listen to the request for help, and don’t judge the worthiness of the request based on the amount of business that organization does with you. A small request from an occasional customer could turn into something larger. Partnering with an organization that is outside the scope of your regular business could turn up some unforeseen opportunities for business later and give your business exposure to a new set of customers.

Look for long-term relationships.

As much as you may like to, you can’t say yes to every request for help you get. If you’re looking for a way to sort out where to spend your donation dollars, look for those opportunities that offer long-term relationships. Rather than just giving to one-time needs, give to those who need help on regular basis. That will allow you to establish an ongoing relationship that will last far into the future.

About Jesse Carleton

Jesse Carleton has visited independent hardware retailers, conducted original research on the industry and written extensively about the business of hardware retailing. Jesse has written for more than a dozen of NHPA’s contract publishing titles, all related to the hardware retailing industry. He also was instrumental in developing the Basic Training in Hardware Retailing courses now used by thousands of retailers across the country.

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