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How Charitable Work Makes You a “Real Business”

Real Business

Customers want to support brands that give back to the community.

Aside from working as editor of GEM Journal, I run a blog focused on craft beer called I recently used my blog to raise money for Ukraine war relief.

I coordinated it as a full-on marketing campaign, and it yielded incredible results for my website and the brewery I partnered with. Together we raised more than $11,000 and managed to get a ton of publicity for both businesses.

During the process, I learned major benefits of brand awareness: Trust from the community and repeat business for both the brewery and my blog. Below are the biggest lessons I learned from the charitable work that any business can apply to its own.

Pick a project you’re passionate about

Brewing a beer for Ukraine was something I truly cared about. Naturally, I wanted to put all my effort into this project because I cared. If your company doesn’t care about a charitable initiative, it will likely show to your audience.

When brands come off as pandering and inauthentic, customers get turned off. The initiative may even backfire. Only choose causes that align with the mission. Instead of getting blasted over Twitter, you’ll find successful public relations. Make sure to name your project. Give it a name that rolls off the tongue and people want to talk about.

Our initiative was to brew a beer recipe for a Ukrainian brewery that couldn’t. It’s called Pravda Brewery. When the war started, they ceased brewing operations and made Molotov cocktails instead to arm themselves and fellow civilians.

‘The brewery released its recipes to the world to brew for two reasons: To sell and donate profits back to them and earn as much media attention to the cause as possible. My charitable project is called Beer for Bombs. We raised more than $11,000. The release party brought out more than people. I managed to get mainstream media attention all the way to Good Morning America.

Create professional assets

Always make a unique website and social media handles for the charitable project. When you have a unique name like Beer for Bombs, it’s easy to find an available domain for a website and likely on popular social media channels like Instagram and Facebook.

Some may think a website isn’t necessary with social media and I’m going to easily argue it’s important to have. The website was an easy sell to the media for interviews. Even though it was me and two coworkers, we looked official. The press dug our website. It was eye-appealing, the name stuck, and it was informative. We used the website to give every detail written as tight as possible.

Pitch the press often

We used the site to pitch the press every day. Some companies are large and fortunate enough to employ a PR content team. Smaller businesses can absolutely still make interview requests. Anyone can really do this but it’s a skill set hit the press with an elevator pitch for a story when they don’t know who you are.

Practice your story. Nail down what you’re doing and why you’re doing it with all the important details and leave out what doesn’t matter. Get a one-sheeter and prepare the goods you want to pitch to the press and contact everyone.

I sent emails every day. I looked up phone numbers and made cold calls. I message people I’ve never met through social media because I saw they worked at the local TV station. Be persistent and you will succeed. By this point, I managed to get an interview for a two-minute spot on one of the largest TV stations (Local 10). I was interviewed by a Top 100 daily newspaper (The SunSentinel). The local alternative weekly wrote about us. I was interviewed on a local NPR station.

Persistence: It will pay off.

Be honest with your earnings

It’s best to be completely transparent while pursuing a charitable project. People are rightly cynical about raising money for nonprofits. There have been so many scams that people can’t help but question good intentions – even when they have zero facts to base it on.

From early on, we asked ourselves questions about what everything would cost, how much we were charging customers, and how much of the profit we were honestly able to donate. It was tough math at first but truly paid off when we could easily identify where all the money was going.

As we raised money, we let our audience know. Early on, some of the most cynical people on social media would randomly comment on social media posts questioning where the money was going. Rather than silence their comments, we addressed them publicly with well-thought-out responses. We also made public updates all along the way using free content tools like Canva.

This shows we’re honest, sincere, and truly believe in the work we’re doing.

Show off your work

We sold thousands of beer cans at two separate events: One in South Florida – the other in Jacksonville. During both events, I had to speak in a microphone to a large crowd of people.

Both businesses were able to pull up sales in real-time. That gave us the ability to notify our audience and customers of our earning status the entire time.

This is smart. You should show off the work you’re doing. When people see progress they’re more likely to contribute more. People love a success story with a charity. When the right people are raising money for the right reasons, it draws a crowd.

Any business can and should create some kind of charitable project. If done right, it’ll pay dividends. You literally can’t pay for the kind of publicity a charity can bring. It will truly set aside the real businesses from the fly-by-night kind.