As you are getting ready to file your taxes for the year, you’ll be tallying your total donations to charity – either for yourself or for your firm. There are many things law firms can do to maximize the marketing impact of charitable giving, so we thought we’d give you some tips.

Some people feel icky trying to capitalize on marketing opportunities from charitable endeavors. But there is nothing wrong with expecting a charity to give you some benefit for your gift, or for letting other people know about your activities. Charities benefit from your marketing efforts, too, so it’s a win-win for everyone. Be aware of the benefits that come with giving to charity, and make sure you take full advantage of them.


Media Acknowledgement Opportunities

Many charities thank donors through billboards, other advertising, radio or television spots – think of Minnesota Public Radio and it’s “underwriters” – all those people who get those 30-second spots are just folks who made a large enough donation. It’s basically advertising under a charitable name. If a charity offers such opportunities, make sure you send the appropriate department your current logo, or slogan, or marketing copy. Make it as easy as possible for them to advertise for you.


Band Together for Greater Impact

Say there’s a charity that several people in your firm want to make donations to. Instead of each sending in your checks individually (which also costs the charity more in processing time) consider combining your donations into one large amount that comes from your firm. Then your business can be listed in a larger giving category, which comes with its own set of benefits. Seeing your firm’s name listed alongside other major corporate donors gives people a very favorable impression of your business.

Do, however, be careful about exerting pressure on your employees and partners on who they donate to. When combining donations, make sure it isn’t to an overly political or contentious organization. Consider the American Cancer Society or Habitat for Humanity instead of Planned Parenthood or the National Rifle Association.


Make Events Useful Events

There’s nothing worse at a charity event than an empty table with your firm’s name on it. If you bother sponsoring a table, booth, or suite at an event, be sure your firm has the people behind it to make a good showing. Don’t buy the table first and assume you’ll be able to fill it. Give your employees incentives to want to attend the event – don’t make it an assignment, or require huge networking goals. Allow your people to have a casual fun time. The results may be intangible, but they will be there.


Time is Money

Understand that charities often need services in addition to money, and legal services are often very helpful to donate. There can be a great advantage to serving on a Board of Directors, or simply offering to donate some of your time. Charities can always use help with legal advice, accounting, fundraising, and countless other projects.


Make it Fun, Keep it Local

Think outside the box when it comes to charitable giving – don’t just go for the big national charities. Find groups that make a direct impact in your neighborhood. Often your dollar will go a lot further when given to a local organization with a small budget. Contact the local neighborhood association and get a group of people from your firm to spend an afternoon weeding the community garden. Call a small theater company and offer to bring a big group to a show for discounted tickets. Go read to kids at the local library. There are many small ways to make a big impact.


Ultimately, you should give to charity because you want to, not because anyone pressures you to do it to make your firm look good. But if you are giving anyway, make sure you reap the benefits so that everyone gains from the experience.

Kimberly Hanlon
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Kimberly Hanlon

Attorney at Law at Kimberly M. Hanlon, LLC
Kimberly Hanlon is an estate planning and small business law attorney in the Twin Cities. She is also a co-owner of MoreLaw Minneapolis, the executive suite exclusively for attorneys in downtown Minneapolis.
Kimberly Hanlon
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