There’s a give and take in aiding nonprofits
Every year, companies large and small plan their marketing budgets and include a line item for corporate donations. These are generally reserved for nonprofit organizations, whether they are outright donations or sponsorships of programs or events.Why do companies do this? Some will say that it’s because it’s the right thing to do. Yes, it is. Nonprofit organizations rely on the generosity of the for-profit world in order to function and grow. They fill a void in society that would not be addressed if it weren’t for these organizations.But there’s another reason for this budget line item. Remember, it’s in the marketing budget. These companies are supporting nonprofits and hope to gain public goodwill and business because of their generosity.And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.All too often, though, we forget that these for-profit companies need our support too. Think about it. When is the last time you made a purchase at the local hardware store or garage that sponsored your son’s or daughter’s team? Have you ever pledged to buy groceries at only one store because it generously supported a cause close to your heart?Probably not. And if you don’t, you wouldn’t be unlike so many others because we have reached a place where we assume that Corporate America will just step in with the support, no matter what.Recently, I was reading my Facebook news feed and happened upon a friend who is closing her family convenience store. After 25 years in business, she and her husband have determined that times have gotten too tough. They’re throwing in the towel.But on this particular day, what really piqued my interest was her comment that she wished she had never supported any of the groups they had over the years. Not the teams, not the police benevolent groups, not the firefighter groups, none of them.Her comment surprised me. This store had been a fixture in the town forever. People looked to them to be good citizens, and more importantly, they were just that. They supported just about every organization that requested funds. But what my friend confessed on Facebook that day was that not one of those people who came through their door for a donation had ever shown up at any other time during the year. Nor, she added, had any of their group members.A simple connection I have served on many nonprofit boards during my career, but my most recent passion is the Make-A-Wish Foundation of New Hampshire. Our organization has a number of equally passionate supporters, many of them for-profit companies. One of the largest sponsors is Pepsi. This company has taken on the cause of granting wishes for seriously ill children in a feverish way. The Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge alone annually raises thousands of dollars for Make-A-Wish.And, of course, their logo and products are featured everywhere on Make-A-Wish materials. But the organization and its volunteers go further.We drink Pepsi products at Make-A-Wish events and meetings. You will only find Pepsi products in StoreyManseau’s office. In my home, my family only drinks Pepsi products. And, when I’m in a restaurant that only serves Coke products, I drink water.It’s a simple connection. For-profit companies need to make money. They place corporate donations and sponsorship monies in a marketing budget so that they can leverage the goodwill they get into tangible sales. When they make sales from their support, they can continue to support – generously – the nonprofit organizations of our communities.So, the next time you’re at a Little League ballfield, look at the signs on the fence. Those companies – large and small – need your support. If they don’t get it, you may not be at the ballfield next season.Laurie J. Storey-Manseau, owner of StoreyManseau LLC, an integrated marketing company in Concord, can be reached at email@example.com.