Small-Business Marketing Strategies: Giving Back Keeps on Giving

A strategically placed gift or donation can pay dividends for your business, as Susan Dobbe-Leahy, of Dobbe Marketing, explains.

Richmond-based Anderson’s Candy Shop has created a special Give Back Box that sends a portion of proceeds to a local charity.

Sincere appreciation for your business partnerships is one way to solidify relationships and build your image, especially during this season of gratitude.

Brand image growth parallels philanthropic and social entrepreneurship, according to, which tracks trends by industry. Your business brand represents more than your products or services to customers today. Your brand benefits from an active involvement in supporting causes and social issues.

There are many ways to support causes and social issues that can be combined with your holiday gift-giving and celebrations.

Consider how it impacts your company’s culture as you collaborate on giving back. Gather your team and explore how future giving might fit your products, services, culture and budgets. Here are a few options to explore:
Donating Goods: In 2016, more than $79.5 billion in goods were donated to causes and nonprofits. Does your business have excess, leftovers or other valuable product that can help others?

Matching Funds: More than 65% of Fortune 500 companies offer matching gift programs, in which the company offers cash contributions parallel to what employees or retirees pledge to a designated nonprofit. Last year, an estimated $2-3 million were given as matching funds in the U.S., according to

One-for-One Giving: This model, made famous by the TOMS shoe brand, is becoming popular for consumer products. At least 40 major brands follow this model where, for every one product sold, another is given away to charity. These programs are valued at an estimated $600 million per year.

Volunteerism: Forbes reports that 73% of American millennials spend more on a product or service with a company that supports social issues. Sweat equity can be an option for businesses that don’t have a product to donate or dollars to share. Encouraging employees to volunteer with community causes can be an excellent method to give back without spending dollars. And, volunteer services are valued and needed in every community.

Partnering to Give: Investigate partnerships with companies seeking to make a difference. Crystal Lake nonprofit Family Health Partnership Clinic offers Anderson’s Chocolates for purchase during the holidays. The 100-year-old Richmond chocolate company created a special assortment and purchase price of $14.95. Each purchase gives dollars back to the clinic, and gift-givers have the satisfaction of giving an exceptionally sweet treat while helping families in need of medical care.

If you are reading this article after your gifts have been distributed, don’t despair. Giving gifts and showing appreciation can be done any time of the year: Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, anniversary of your business or your business partnerships, etc. Be creative and find a way to make your gift-giving better remembered and valued.

When exploring ideas for giving and giving back, think about how gifts are delivered.

Maybe there are different tiers for different levels of customers. Making a personal visit to those very important clients, where you hand the gift personally to the individual, lets them know how you value them. An open house or holiday party allows you to speak and share stories with your clients and colleagues.

Sharing good wishes, stories of successes and collaboration are terrific ways to celebrate a good year. Incorporate social media, blog updates and public relations in your year-end celebrations to keep the spirit alive.

May the new year be full of marketing adventures, a solid marketing strategy and plan, and more prosperity for all.

Happy holidays!

Susan Dobbe-Leahy is president of Dobbe Marketing & PR Inc. Founded in 1989, this brand strategy agency leads businesses, organizations and municipalities to build brand image awareness and communication.