I was recently interviewed by the National Federation of Independent Businesses about the ROI of giving back to the community. I thought it was a great topic and it's something we discuss with our clients frequently. Here's a recap of what we discussed.
Community involvement can mean more than good will for business owners. Done correctly, community involvement can increase visibility, help with SEO, generate PR opportunities and motivate your team.
Let me first say, these added benefits should never be the primary motivating factor. You participate in the community because you are passionate about where you live, a cause, or you just want to give back--NOT because you want to build links. But if you put passion first, you can leverage these others opportunities as well.
1. Increased visibility. Often, sponsorships involve banners, handouts, t-shirts, tv spots, billboards, etc. Aligning yourself with events like marathons, food drives, community outreach, etc can be a very cost effective way to get visibility for your brand. This visibility is typically limited to the city where the event happens and so may not be an extra perk for some businesses.
2. Link building. Sponsorships and community involvement can also lead to great link building opportunities. Links are an important factor in search engine ranking algorithms. Often sponsorships lead to links from the event or foundation sponsor page, which provides important link equity to the sponsor. Not only do these links have SEO value, the business owner/sponsor may also get a direct boost in traffic from links on these site.
3. PR opportunities. If your small business participates in the community, you instantly have something interesting to talk about on your blog, and other social channels. Some small businesses have an entire section of their site devoted to community involvement. Beyond the internal press, businesses can create press releases and pick up some free press in local papers, magazines, and TV. Clients and customers love to support local businesses that are involved in the community.
4. Team Building. If a business can find a charity or community activity that the entire team can get behind, then these events can become great team building activities outside of the office. Your whole office can feel good about participating in a charitable cause both as individuals, and as a part of a business doing good in their community.
Items to Consider
If you are interested in helping in your community or are already sponsoring events and participating in non-profits, here are some things to consider:
- What charities are you and your team interested in?
- What charities are you already participating in?
- When is their next event?
- What are the sponsorship levels?
- Does the event have a web page with sponsor links?
- Do you have a high resolution logo you can send them to include on marketing?
- Can you create a page for community involvement on your site?
- Who will write the press release and blog posts about the company involvement?
- Who from the company will be in charge of managing the promotion and coordination of the event in house?
- What local media resources can you approach for coverage?
To conclude, it's important to be involved in the community. Your primary motivation for doing so should be social good, but you should also keep in mind the positive impact that good will can have on your company. For example this year we participated in the Fetch A Cure Charity Golf Tournament by sponsoring a hole. Why? Because we love animals and we love golf! It's a great cause and we can't wait to be more involved. Smart businesses will look for a way to give back and will reap rewards for doing so.