How Helping Out a Charity Can Help You

November 19, 2012
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Promoting your design business can be tough at the best of times. Personally I really hate approaching people and telling them about Hunting Town and the services I offer. It feels like cold calling, like I’m bothering them, like I’m pretty much saying “HEY! YEAH YOU! STOP THAT – STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND COME GIVE ME SOME MONEY!” (click to tweet this). Basically I feel like a dick.

Now it can be totally argued that this is my hang up. That a lot of people out there probably wouldn’t know where to turn for a graphic designer or illustrator and would more than likely be grateful for having that kind of information presented to them. I get that. A lot of it is probably down to confidence issues on my part, and that’s a problem I’ll tackle in another blog post. But I know I’m not alone here, so here’s some advice that’s helping me get over the hump of self promotion.

Think about the charity people you see in the streets. Not the ones with cardboard signs and dogs. The ones with logo emblazoned red raincoats and clipboards. The ones that jump out in front of you from nowhere and blurt out rhetorical questions like “do you agree with killing babies?”. I fucking hate those guys; asking for money right out of the blue without so much as a “how are you?”

But that’s the point.

I think they’re a dick. They think they’re a dick, and they certainly know that I think they’re a dick

I think they’re a dick. They think they’re a dick, and they certainly know that I think they’re a dick. But that’s ok. It’s ok because I’d never tell them they’re a dick. I’d never tell them they’re a dick because I really don’t agree with killing babies. It’s all for a good cause. They can pretty much do what they want because no matter what, they will always have the higher ground. They could kick me in the nuts and steal my wallet and they’d still come out as the nice guy because they’re the ones who stand out in the street all day, in the cold and in the often rain, intentionally being a dick in order to try and help some babies that they’ll never even meet.

They are indisputably nice people.

Now this is an extreme case and I’m probably being a bit over the top, but if we take this back to the self promotion of your business, it’s clear that a bit of charity could do wonders for helping you stop feeling guilty for being the dick that you’re probably not actually being. If that makes sense?

Let me give you an example that I was involved in recently.

My fiancée has recently started up a cupcake business called My Fair Cupcake, and obviously Hunting Town has been handling the branding. Because cupcakes really need to be delivered locally I found that a lot of the techniques that I had used to promote Hunting Town were useless as they were on a global scale and had attracted clients from as far afield as the US and Thailand. It was clear that the kind of customers that we needed for My Fair Cupcake would have to be local, from maybe two or three towns away at the most. We needed to get the message out to people directly.


The solution we came up with was to arrange a cupcake tasting that people could come to, try the cupcakes and learn about the brand. Again though, this meant going up to people and saying “COME HERE AT THIS TIME AND EAT THESE!”, so here’s what we did. We contacted a local charity and stated that the cupcake tasting had a recommended donation of £3 to this charity.

Now this totally changed the dynamic of what we were proposing to people. Instead of saying “come and check out my business” we were saying “come and eat cupcakes and help this charity out”. Because we were doing a good thing for this charity we became ‘indisputably nice people’ and could therefore push the tasting as hard as we possibly could without any guilty feelings or remorse.

As it turned out the tasting was a huge success, people had a a great time, we got to talk about our business and we raised a tonne of money for this charity. It was totally win, win, win, win.

So how do I apply this to my design business? Well you could design a t-shirt or poster and have all the profits go to charity. Because of the promotion of your charity product, people would no doubt learn about the other products you sell which would drive up sales. You could do some good old fashioned pro-bono work for a charity. If you try and push your work through design blogs and journals, they’re more likely to publish it if they can be seen to be promoting a good cause at the same time. There are a tonne of clever ways that you can leverage your services through charity and really give a huge boost to your promotion. I have a few plans for Hunting Town in the pipeline right now!

Now I know that to some of you, this could seem a little selfish. Riding on the back of a good cause to try and make more money in the long run doesn’t seem right somehow? I get you. But think of it this way- if you can earn a charity some money or no money which is better? We don’t all have the time or the resources to run our businesses and give to charity, so if we can combine the two surely that’s better than doing nothing? That’s my take on it anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

As always, if you have any opinions on this, or if you have any cool ideas that you think could work please let me know in the comments below!

Photo Credit to damo1977

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is owner of Hunting Town Design, a small design house based in Manchester UK specialising in Graphic Design and Illustration. Alex is also the founder and editor of The Design Range. Find out more about Alex on his website or follow him on twitter.
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