Between the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I like to slow down and think about what the year has given me. To give thanks for both the good and the bad—the things that have brought beauty into my life and those moments that have made me stronger. I think many of you like to do the same, which is why charitable efforts are so important this time of year—recognizing how fortunate you’ve been sheds light on those whose holiday season doesn’t shine quite so brightly.
It’s a big time to give back, whether it be through donations to your favorite organizations, putting in the physical time at places like soup kitchens or animal shelters, or committing yourself to a cause, like training for a charitable race or signing up to be a donor, for the coming year.
There are those shoppers who would like to get involved in philanthropic efforts but don’t really know where to start. One of the easiest (and most fun) ways is to shop with companies and for products that give back—like when a percentage of sales goes to donation. As a retailer, this is one of the easiest ways to give back—and you can get others involved through social media in a snap.
Yes, this is a bit self-serving—there’s no question about that. But you’re still running a business, so in the spirit of giving back, a little promotion can go a long way. So, before the holiday season gets away from us altogether, here are three ways to use social media for giving this year.
Hold a Contest
There are many clever ways that you can use a contest for charity, but my imagined scenario goes like this: You plan to donate a portion of all holiday sales to a charitable foundation this year, but you’d like your customers to help you decide which one. Create a campaign on social media detailing the rules of your contest and post it on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and wherever else you share your news. Ask your followers to comment with their charity of choice, upon which they’ll be entered into a drawing for a piece of jewelry or a gift certificate to your store. It gets people into the mood for giving, it gets engagement going on your page, and, if you can get a new customer into your store through the drawing, you may have just won yourself a shopper for life (and if a current customer wins, they’ll be all the more pleased with you).
Ask for Shares, Likes, and Comments
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Thank you for sharing your ears in celebration of @MickeyMouse’s 90th Anniversary! By posting your Mickey Mouse or creative “ears” with #ShareYourEars in one or both phases of the campaign during November, you helped unlock more than US $2 million from @Disney to Make-A-Wish. Your participation will help make life-changing wishes come true for children with critical illnesses. ShareYourEars.org @makeawishintl
When it comes to giving, there is nothing easier for a social media user to do than share, like, or comment. The best, most recent example of this comes from Disney and Make-A-Wish. Each year, the organization partners with Disney and asks its followers to #shareyourears—post a photo of yourself or someone else wearing Mickey Mouse or Minnie Mouse ears and use the hashtag. For each hashtag, Disney donates money to the foundation. It’s a campaign that brings wicked success each year, because it’s easy and fun to do, and it makes people feel good without asking a lot of them.
Let that be your inspiration as you ask something similar of your followers. For every like a certain photo gets, you’ll donate a certain amount to your local charity. Or, perhaps, for every person that posts a photo wearing a piece of jewelry from your store with your hashtag of choice, you donate. Or, for every time a photo is shared, you donate. You pick the materials and the rules, just make sure they’re easy to follow, and, most importantly, that the result is a donation to a worthy cause.
Go Live and Tell Stories
If you’re planning to donate your time this year, make it a staff event. Prepare meals to hand out to the homeless. Clean up after the litterbugs along the side of the road. Volunteer to read to the children at your local hospital. Then share your efforts with your followers by going live on Instagram or by posting constant updates to your Stories. It’s a little toot-your-own-horn, yes, but the goal is to inspire others to do the same. And, if you’re in a location that welcomes additions, encourage others to come and join you in your efforts. You could even advertise your plans in advance and ask your customers to attend, making it a real family and friends event. It’s almost like a holiday party but better, because you’re giving back to those who need it. If you want to take it a step further, ask your attendees to share photos with a specific hashtag, and donate a specified amount of money for each hashtag used.
These are skeletons of ideas, really—outlines that can be tweaked, buffed, and shined. But I hope that they show how simple it is to get charitable this season, and that they encourage you to use your good fortune to help others this year! Those in need—and, I think, your customers—will really appreciate that you did. ‘Tis the season to be jolly, but it’s also a time for giving!
Image at top via: @shopsinglestone