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August 1999


For a Good Cause

Be a good neighbor and reach the right people with charity marketing

You can spend years diligently building your brand through newspaper ads and radio spots without attracting the big spenders in your market. Try getting more involved in your community. Some jewelers find supporting charity events is an effective way to network, build trust and earn recognition as well as give something back to their communities.

"It has exposed us to customers who never knew us," says John Sullivan, general manager of Alson Jewelers in Cleveland, OH. Charity events such as the Northeast Ohio Race for the Cure, which Alson sponsors, bring together the community's movers and shakers, who often are dedicated charity volunteers. Some jewelers say they even make surprisingly big sales related to their participation in the events.

You probably receive requests for donations from so many charities your head starts to spin. How do you choose which one to support? "You want to pick something that touches you and your employees personally," says Sullivan. "If you don't have that yourself, ask your clients." Alson found several of its clients had been treated for or lost loved ones to breast cancer. In 1997 the store began to support the local running of the Race for the Cure that benefits the Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer research.

Others pay close attention to how organizations spend the money they raise. Russell Korman, owner of Russell Korman Jewelry in Austin, TX, wanted the maximum benefit from his donation, so he did thorough research on charities. He found the Junior League of Austin puts in tens of thousands of volunteer hours and closely monitors the donations it gives to local health, education and arts organizations. "They are good stewards of their money, and it takes the burden off me to have to donate directly to many different charities," he says.

Don't Just Stand There!
If you've decided to use your marketing budget to support a charity, get involved in planning and promoting the event to make the donation worth your while. Here are some ideas:

  • Donate merchandise. Korman donates a big-ticket jewelry item (last year it was a pair of 4.01-ct. diamond earrings) for a $25 raffle and a piece of lower-priced jewelry for a $5 raffle at the Junior League's annual "A Christmas Affair" in November. In 1998 the two raffles raised $27,000.
  • Sell related merchandise. Have your in-store designer or a vendor make jewelry or a gift to support the cause. Alson sells $45 crystal Hoya brand hearts embedded with the pink ribbon that designates breast cancer research; all proceed go to the Komen Foundation. Other ideas include gold AIDS ribbons or gold book pins for library benefits.
  • Help with ancillary events. Most charities have parties for volunteers or picnics for participants. Sponsor one. Alson holds the cocktail party honoring other Race for the Cure sponsors (many of whom are executives of major northeastern Ohio companies) at its store on the eve of the race.
  • Take advantage of publicity. Find out in advance how the organization will promote your sponsorship. It can be beneficial just to have your store name listed with other sponsors, which often are well-known companies. On the elite invitation announcing the opening party for a recent "A Christmas Affair," Russell Korman was one of five sponsors listed – the others were Dell, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and a prestigious local law firm.
  • Involve Employees. It's a great way to build your team while demonstrating your support goes beyond financial matters, says Sullivan. Alson Jewelers organizes more than 30 employees, all wearing store shirts advertising the Hoya hearts, to participate in the Race for the Cure.


– by Stacey King

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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