Charity may be the main purpose of your association, or it may be a side project. Either way, charitable activities are a good way to get members involved and working for a good cause. And it's also a great way to promote your association's mission.
There are many ways to do good, so we’re sharing some thoughts for associations.
Turn your annual meeting into a charity event
Linda C. Chandler writes for The Center for Association Leadership about giving back to the host city.
With all of the hard work that goes into planning your meeting or tradeshow, it can be easy to forget how much a host city does to prepare for the event. In Texas, organizations are finding that service or charitable projects are a great way to show appreciation to a local community and bond with members at the same time. (Titled "Say Thanks by Giving Back" in the print edition)
In recent years, tighter budgets and increasing demands on members' time have caused many association meetings to become so compressed that there's little room for extras. Every hour counts, whether the goal is professional and personal growth, education, networking, or team building.
Yet associations are finding a new way to accomplish those very same goals: They're encouraging members to participate in community service or charitable projects onsite. Feeling good about doing good can be a morale booster, and working for a charitable cause creates bonding among participants that is much more difficult to achieve in a seminar or general session.
You can learn about the projects that various organizations have undertaken in Texas by reading her article for ASAE.
Selling for good
A popular way of raising money is through selling. As Emma Beck writes for Associations Now, consumers want to know what good their charity-linked purchase will do.
These days, if people are going to give to a cause, they want evidence that their purchases will have an impact on the problem or challenge they pledged their hard-earned money to help eradicate.
“The Social Impact Study” from public relations firm Cone Communications, reveals that 54 percent of Americans surveyed bought a product “with a social and/or environmental benefit” in 2013, up from 41 percent who purchased cause-related items in 2010 and just 20 percent in 1993. But the study also found that only 25 percent said they believe they can have a significant positive impact through their purchasing decisions.
According to the study, “[d]espite strong inclinations to support corporate social responsibility efforts, Americans’ enthusiasm could diminish or even disappear if they do not see the benefits of their participation…. To foster and maintain trust and deep engagement, companies must communicate not only the extent to which corporate commitments to [a] cause are having traction, but also specifically how consumer participation, from dollars donated to hours volunteered, will create measurable impact.”
Beck’s article offers five “guiding principles” for organizations that wish to effectively demonstrate their social impact. You can read them at AssociationsNow.com.
Advocate online – or don’t
Using social media can be a mixed bag. Katie Bascuas writes for Associations Now that it may be good for raising awareness, but may not bring in many donations.
This was one of the significant findings of a new study published in Sociological Science. The research found that while social media campaigns may attract attention for a cause or organization, they don’t result in a comparable increase in fundraising.
“It is true that once you rely on social media, your message can easily reach people by the millions,” Nicola Lacetera, a management professor at the University of Toronto and one of the study’s authors, told Phys.org. “But then the question becomes ‘What do people do with these messages?’”
For example, researchers used Facebook ads and sponsored stories to encourage users to install an app that would allow them to donate to Heifer International, a charity that works to end poverty and hunger around the world.
The campaign reached close to 6.4 million Facebook users, but it resulted in 30 donations—not exactly a big return on investment.
From this, the researchers posited that social media platforms provide “cheap” ways for users to show support by “liking” posts as opposed to donating money, and that the idea of social contagion—which spurred the Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014—is more viable when a campaign asks people to do something that’s free.
Raising awareness has its benefits, but if you’re hoping to bring in more than likes, you can read the rest of Bascuas’ article here.