“Art is what you can get away with.” Andy Warhol.
Almost three years ago, I co-founded a local art charity called Foundation of Local Arts. Our mission was (and is) to support and educate the South Bay about art. We produced local shows and gatherings raising money for the local school art programs that were being drastically cut. When we needed donations, press, or volunteers, we approach the local Manhattan Beach businesses.
An article by a Ms. Thursday Bram, Build Your Local Economy to Build Your Business reminded me of the value of business community involvement. The article set out a little strategy, but it really didn’t go far enough from a strategy point of view. For example, let’s say you want to support a local environmental charity. Let’s do a quick little analysis using the SWOT tool and look at a business charity community strategy:
- Strengths: What does your business have to offer to the charity other than money. Money is good, but you, and your business, have certain strengths that can both benefit the charity, and showcase your business. Let’s say you are a restaurant. Perfect! Donate food, or at least provide it at cost. You will build up good will, help a needy cause, and demonstrate your restaurant’s skills.
- Weaknesses: What aren’t you good at? Let’s say your restaurant doesn’t recycle, or operates wastefully with water. That is not a good thing if you are going to support an environmental charity. You may want to wait until you clean up your act before supporting this type of organization.
- Opportunities:Once you get a reputation as a civic leader, opportunities run amok. Don’t over extend your business, or yourself. Set your tactics in light of your overall strategy.
- Threats: If you choose to support PETA, you might alienate your business because of political ramifications. On the other hand, if you are in a community that strongly supports dogs, the choice may be beneficial. View you business involvement through both charitable and business eyes.
Many business owners work 80 hours a week and claim they have no time for community and charity. Creating a synergy between their business, their charitable passion, and their community may just bring back the balance (and for many the purpose) that they lack in life.