What is a floral fundraising program?
When it comes to fundraising programs in the floral industry the basic idea is that...
- a flower shop partners with a local non-profit (like a school, church or hospital)
- the non-profit promotes the florist to their members/supporters/media
- in return the flower shop donates a percentage of the resulting sales back to the non-profit
“It’s a win-win,” Rund says. “We bring awareness to the organization but, in turn, it drives awareness to our shop. The organizations are promoting the program, so people are ending up on our website or social media.”
How can florists benefit from fundraising programs?
Research and experience shows that time and time again fundraising programs are one of the best promotions available to retail florists for a number of reasons...
Free Publicity & Raised Profile
Every florist loves the idea of free publicity - getting free coverage in local media. The problem is that given that those media outlets are in the business of selling advertising they generally don't just give coverage away to commercial entities. They would rather have your flower shop as a customer.
But that all changes with a fundraising program. Now promoting the program is community service, and that can result in free publicity and a higher profile for your flower shop.
Goodwill & Loyalty
Over the years research by Floral Management magazine and other sources have confirmed that the goodwill generated by fundraising programs creates new customers and increases loyalty:
Consumers That Would Switch For A Good Cause
73% of consumers would switch brands if a different brand of similar quality supported a good cause.
2012 Edelman Goodpurpose Consumer Study
Consider that statistic - it means that the kind of fundraising program FloristWare facilitates could help you win over 73% of the competitions customers. The article also reports that this is an increase of 9% since 2009.
Consumers That Would Help Promote A Brand That Support A Good Cause
71% of consumers would help a brand promote their products or services if there was a good cause behind them. This is an increase of 34% since 2008.
2012 Edelman Goodpurpose Consumer Study
This becomes an even more interesting and important statistic when you think how many more opportunities people have to promote their favorite brands via social media, and how many more people they can reach.
“Through these fundraising partnerships, we have gained new customers and also created a really positive profile in our community.”
Jean Gust, Valley Flowers
Increased Sales & Profits
The most tangible benefit is increased sales from the customers motivated by the program. There is of course a cost in the form of the rebate that is given to the non-profit, but that is only a factor if the program works and is driving sales.
A Better Way To Deal With Donation Requests
Florists are constantly hit up for donations, far more they can possibly provide. Offering to partner on a fundraising program lets you turn an awkward "no" situation into a profitable opportunity.
Designing A Successful Fundraising Program
Let's take a look at how you can create a fundraising program that benefits all involved...
What works for the florist? Let’s think about what you want to get out of the program, what you want to avoid, and how it all fits together.
The ultimate goal of a fund-raising program is to increase sales for your store. The idea is that your fund-raising partners will promote the program to their supporters who will promote it to their families, friends, neighbors and co-workers who will then come to your store to make purchases in order to support the cause.
In addition to increasing sales you want to expand your customer base by bringing in new customers. This means that you should look for partners who can expose you to new people - you don’t want to just keep re-working your existing customer base. For example - if your store has an older clientele you might want to work with some school yearbook committees. It doesn’t mean that you should ignore partners that target customers you already have but you should always be looking to broaden your customer base.
Positive Exposure & Media Attention
Fund-raising and being associated with good causes is good exposure for your store. And - in certain situations - a fund-raising program can even get you positive media attention. For example there might be an incident in your town where a puppy mill is found and it generates a lot of news coverage. A fund-raising program for the local SPCA would be very topical and if you sent a press release to local media outlets they might even give you some free publicity. In a case like this it is important to be very generous (by making a significant donation) so that it does not appear that you are exploiting the issue. Because we’re talking about a percentage that can impact your profit margin this kind of program should also be short-lived as you just can’t afford to do it indefinitely.
You want to choose organizations and causes that are not overly political or divisive. Supporting something controversial might please one group but alienate another. Since the goal is to increase sales overall this doesn’t make sense. Make choices that won’t risk offending or upsetting customers.
No matter how much you support the cause you need to be realistic about the percentage you promise to set aside for donation. Don’t make a commitment that you can’t afford to keep!
Your programs should be easy to maintain and administer. You don’t want to spend a lot of time trying to figure out applicable sales, reporting, etc.
Put The Terms In Writing!
The last thing you want is any confusion over the accumulated donation. You will look very bad if there is any way it could like you are reneging on an agreement with a non-profit.
Try and choose things that you feel good about supporting. You’ll be more inclined to really get behind the program and make it work.
The Partner Non-Profit
What does your program need to offer the fund-raising partner? Remember - the first step is convincing the fund-raising partner to participate and promote to make this work so it has to appeal to them.
A Reason To Get Excited
Give them a percentage that makes it worth their while. If you offer them 2% it probably won’t get them excited. In turn they probably won’t promote it and the program won’t be very effective. Offer a percentage that will really motivate them to promote the program.
Ease Of Explanation
For this to work it needs to be simple. Why? Because your fund-raising partner needs to be able to explain it quickly and easily to get the word out. Too many terms and conditions will make it too hard to explain. You want something like “we get a 10% donation if you mention little league” and not “we get 6.75% if you buy red roses in person on the first Wednesday of each month and mention the special code word”.
Ease Of Administration
Make sure your flower shop is a good partner. Don’t make them do all the work. Don’t make them chase after the money. If you agreed to settle up every month then call them each month, give them the stats and send the check. Remember - by that time they have already done their part. They have promoted the program and their supporters have given you their money.
Transparency In Reporting
Remember that you are asking the fund-raising partner to trust you. You are asking them to go out and promote your store in return for a potential donation. That means that you owe them straightforward and honest reporting. At the end of each period you need to be able to show them exactly how well the program performed.
The Retail Customer
What does your program need to offer to the retail customer? Once you have convinced the fund-raising partner and they have promoted it to their supporters you need those supporters to act.
Make It Easy To Participate
If people come to your store in good faith because they want to support a cause don’t make it hard for them. Don’t insist that they know a special code or password. Don’t insist that they show you a special card or ID. Don’t start telling them the products/services they are interested in aren’t eligible. If you do you’ll give the customer the impression that you are using the fund-raising partner and trying to trick or “bait and switch” it’s supporters. This is everything we don’t want to happen - losing a sale, alienating a customer and giving your store a bad image! All the customer should have to say is something like “I heard you have a program with XXX?”.
Make Them Feel Good
Customers who respond to this kind of program want to feel that they are making a difference. Reinforce that. Tell them that you and the fund-raising partner appreciate their support and that the donation from their purchase is going to a great cause.
Reinforce The Program
If they took the time to make a purchase and mention the program they probably care about it. Tell them that it’s getting a great response and that they should tell more people about it.
Once you have designed a program that works for you and appeals to both the fundraising partner and their supporters you need to define the terms veru carefully. In addition to the general ideas already described their are a few other things you should consider mentioned below. The long term relationship with the fund-raising partner will depend on everyone understanding exactly how things will work so it’s important you take the time to get the details right.
How long will it run?
Make sure that any program has clearly defined start and finish dates. Indefinite programs are never a good idea - there should always be a specific ending date. It also creates more excitement and participation if it is a limited time offer. Also remember that it takes time to spread word about the program - if you make it too short it will be over by the time people here about it! Even if you are interested in long term programs with certain partners you should consider taking every third month off to maintain that sense of urgency.
Is the program only offered with certain types of payment?
You might want to specify that the donation is only applied to certain payment types but don’t get too picky! Remember - the idea here is to increase sales so if you’re too selective about payment types you just diminish it’s effectiveness. For example - excluding credit card payments is probably a bad idea as it precludes phone orders and limits the program to walk-in customers. You won’t see the same increase in sales. At the same time it’s probably a good idea to exclude sales that are charged to an account - you could end up paying the donation before you actually get paid yourself, and of course there is always the chance the debt will go bad.
Are any types of items excluded from the program?
Are any specific products or services going to be excluded from the program? If so you need to be clear about it from the start. You never want to get into a situation where a fund-raising partner is expecting that a certain sale qualified only to find out that it fell into some kind of loophole. Remember - you want to make big donations because it means you’re making more sales. The best way to make it work is to make it simple - the fewer special terms and conditions the better.
How much will you give back?
You need to be very clear about the size of the donation. What percentage of qualifying sales are you going to give back? There are two main factors to consider. The first is that you want the fund-raising partner and their contacts to get excited about the program - that means that the donation has to be interesting. You also want to make money! There is no point making the donation so big that the increased sales aren’t profitable! One possible approach is to look at your marketing budget. What percentage of revenue do you typically invest in marketing? Since this is a marketing effort that number is a good place to start. Since many florists tend to under spend on marketing you might want to increase that number slightly.
When will you give it back?
Clearly specify when and often you will be reporting on the results of the program and making the donation. It should be at least once a month for a couple of different reasons. The first is that feedback on a successful program keeps everyone excited. If the program is making money the people involved should be kept informed because it will motivate them to keep promoting and taking advantage of it. It’s also important to not let a donation - which is a kind of liability - get too big. Let’s say you have a really successful program that generates a donation of a few hundred dollars each month - it’s best to give that money back before it starts piling up and you start spending it!
What will you give back?
It doesn’t always have to be cash. It might be credit or gift certificates/vouchers. It might be product. Whatever it is you need to be clear about it from the beginning!
Fundraising programs really are one of the best promotional opportunities available to retail florists, delivering multiple benefits in the short, medium and long term.
The only drawback is that they can be difficult to administer. The good news is that FloristWare makes it easy, with powerful tools to help florists reap the benefits with minimal effort.