The role of philanthropy in public relations – Are you a good neighbor?

the role of philanthropy in public relations - are you a good neighbor
Philanthropy is an important part of a PR plan that is often overlooked, but can be very beneficial to your business. Many business owners think they don’t have the time or resources to give back to their communities or underestimate the simple and heartwarming power of philanthropy for their businesses.

Announcements and media releases will only take you so far; taking action to show the local community and your target audiences that you care will introduce your company as a valuable member of the community, rather than just another business.

Philanthropy isn’t just about writing a check. Monetary donations are needed, but personally going and helping a local charity or volunteering means much more. And for those smaller businesses that don’t have spare cash to part with or dozens of employees to mobilize for a good cause, there are plenty of ways to be a good neighbor that won’t cost a dime. Here are two examples:

1. Last year, the Greater Jamison Business Association ( collected gently used coats to support the annual Central Bucks School District “Warm at Heart” coat drive. The group contacted local businesses for permission to place collection boxes in their locations for a period of three weeks. The group then sorted and delivered the coats to a central location where families in need were able to “shop” for coats. The effort provided more than 200 additional coats for needy families and increased the visibility of the Greater Jamison Business Association as a “good neighbor” in the community. The participating businesses also demonstrated to their customers and clients that they too support their local communities. It was win-win for everyone and didn’t cost a dime.

2. Details Hair Salon ( in Doylestown, Pa organized an annual Stylist’s Food Drive. They engaged 6 Doylestown hair salons to participate and collect food and household items for the New Britain Food Larder. Each customer that brought in a bag of donated food was given a raffle ticket for a chance to win a hair care basket that was donated by a styling products company. Again, no out of pocket expense for the salons, but they collected truckloads of food for the food pantry that helped feed hundreds of families struggling to put food on the table. Another no-cost way for a business to make a significant impact AND enhance their images as good neighbors in the communities they serve.

Here is a list of ways you can help within your community:

 Give your time: Find time in your schedule to go and help local charities or people in need. Whether you are volunteering at a hospital or simply sorting donated clothes, you will be helping both your community and your company.

• Donate your knowledge and skill: When you begin to volunteer your time, look for an organization that could use your skill set and your company’s area of expertise. Any way you and your company can help will be mutually beneficial.

• Give items: Own a bakery? Offer to bring baked goods to the next charity function. Or a printing company? Offer to create signs or banners for the charity. Even small items like pens with your logo on them will help the charity and get your name out there.

• Keep your employees involved: By having your staff help and be part of the community, your company becomes more aware of the community and how your company functions within it. Whether your employees are helping through their expertise or simply through their time and efforts, they will not only be helping a good cause, but spreading the word about your company and the quality of its employees.

Once your company has helped the community, it is time to tell your target audience about the good things you have done.

• Create a press release: Send the release to the community’s local papers, business or trade publications and post it on any websites you are able to. Also include any photos from the event to help detail how you contributed.

• Develop a page on your website outlining what you have done: Write a small description of each event or service you provided and why philanthropy is important to your company.

• Remain involved: Staying involved will help generate positive press and help your company continue to be a positive contributor in the community.

Volunteering and giving back to the community take time and effort. However, the time and effort your business puts into helping others and being a valuable part of the community will reap many rewards including: fostering teamwork; motivating employees; building goodwill; enhancing your company’s image or brand in the community; and most importantly making a difference in the world around you.

So what are you waiting for? Go out and find a way to be a good neighbor!