Promotional Products, Branding and Corporate Partnerships for Fundraising
The key to any partnership between a nonprofit and a corporation is an alignment in mission and philosophy. That's something promotional products retailer Branders.com took to heart this past Giving Tuesday, when the company decided to kick off its "Give a Way" campaign.
The Give a Way campaign, which runs through May, provides merchandise to national and regional nonprofit organizations to help them brand their causes. Branders.com's corporate social responsibility focus is on meeting health care needs and improving K-12 education, so the campaign supports health and education nonprofits.
Thus far, three organizations have been chosen to partner with Branders.com: the American Red Cross of Massachusetts, BUILD and The Shanti Project. Branders.com will announce subsequent Give a Way partners each month through May.
Joie Fuentes, senior director of sales and marketing for Branders.com, recently spoke with FundRaising Success about the campaign.
FundRaising Success: How does Branders.com choose the recipients of this campaign?
Joie Fuentes: We first thought about our culture here and the areas of need that connected with our ethos. Education and health care clients are a big part of our business, and they seemed to make sense as a starting point. We also want to help smaller organizations, not always the big ones. We hope to make it easier for them to make a difference in their communities and, in a sense, "give them a way" to tell their stories. Finally, we have tried to include a diversity of geographic regions by choosing organizations based all over the United States.
So far, we have selected all the organizations being supported by the “Give a Way” campaign and have not solicited applications. Our selection process has incorporated several things. First, we have focused on organizations serving the education and health care areas since these are also priorities for our company. Second, we have placed a greater emphasis on small/regional organizations in order to raise their profile and "give them a way" to tell their stories. Third, we have reviewed ratings of the financial results and effectiveness of nonprofit organizations. And, finally, we have tried to include a diversity of geographic regions by choosing organizations based all over the United States.
FS: What kind of merchandise are you providing, specifically, to these organizations?
JF: The organizations can choose any product(s) they want from our inventory. While most of them are still deciding on their order, examples include mugs, clothing, lapel pins or leather pad-folios. Our hope is that they choose something that allows them to better tell their story, gain visibility and meet organizational objectives.
FS: How are the organizations using the merchandise — directly selling it to consumers/donors to raise funds? As premium offers in other asks? Part of an event or events?
JF: So far, we have heard of two primary uses for the products they are choosing: for giveaways at upcoming events and as volunteer thank-you gifts. In at least one case, the organization is going to use the merchandise as part of their 40th anniversary celebration, which allows us to support this important milestone.
FS: How can organizations utilize branding in a more effective way to help in their fundraising?
JF: Storytelling has always been a critical component to how nonprofit organizations become memorable and achieve their objectives. Branded products can provide a tangible representation of an organization’s story and their mission. We also know branded products have a long shelf life. Many of us have things in our homes and offices we picked up at past events, trade shows, etc. This gives branded products a great ROI. While other marketing and advertising will come and go, these products stick around. You never know when that might turn into a future donation.
FS: Any additional thoughts?
JF: Our focus throughout this campaign has been on shining a light on organizations we’re supporting. It is most important to us that their stories are told, and we are working hard to make sure our customers and potential customers are introduced to each of them. They are true heroes doing amazing work and making a positive impact.