One of our goals when we started Lyrical Host was to give back as a company. We do this in a whole bunch of different ways, but it wasn’t until recently that we were thrilled (and humbled) to learn that we were inspiring other people to do the same.
Since people had a lot of questions about it, we decided to create a post covering some different ways of giving back, and how you can do it even if you just started your blog or business today.
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How to get started giving back
Decide what you’re happy giving at the moment
The first thing to decide is whether you’re planning to donate money or time (you can donate both of course, but only one is necessary for giving back!). Whichever way you go, you’ll want to decide what you can afford. You don’t want to resent the time or money you’re giving, and overgiving is the fastest way to do that. Maybe you’re starting with just an hour of your time or $10, and that’s totally fine! You can still turn those into something meaningful.
Choose your cause
This can be one of the most difficult things to narrow down, but as you’ve decided on your time/money investment, that should help you narrow it down a bit. For example, if your budget is $10/month, sponsoring a child for a $20/month cause isn’t currently an option. If you have an hour of your time to spare per week or per month, offering to build a complete website for someone in need isn’t a viable option either.
If you’re completely stuck for where to start:
1. Make a wishlist of what’s important to you
The causes you’re supporting should ideally have personal meaning for you. For example if you or someone you know has a particular condition or illness, supporting a charity or organization dedicated to helping or research around that may be close to your heart. Or if you’re vegetarian or vegan, you may want to research organizations that help with allotments, vegetable planting, animal welfare, or similar.
If you’re a registered business, there may be certain tax benefits to donating money within your country, which may allow you to donate more than you think. But, don’t let it put you off donating internationally – we donate all over the world.
2. Find out what’s important to your customers or audience
If you don’t already know, dropping a quick email, creating a social media post, or putting out a poll/survey are the quickest and most effective ways to go. This is a great option if you have a shortlist of ideas already but want to narrow it down, or you could simply start by asking your audience what causes are important to them and then make a shortlist from there.
3. Consider what makes sense for your niche or brand
What are your customers or visitors likely to appreciate you donating time or money to? For example, if you’re a money or food blogger, donating your time or extra cupboard essentials to a food bank is something your readers are likely to find interesting and relevant. If you’re a web designer or coach, spending some time advising or helping out a non-profit website/organization makes sense. Parenting bloggers or sleep coaches have a ton of child-related charities to choose from, and you could even tie it in with your own children’s activities for donating toys, creating Christmas boxes etc.
It’s important to thoroughly research the organization you’re donating to, including its history and any recent media. Using independent third party websites is best for this as PR pages and press releases can paint a very different picture. For example, some non-profits that otherwise do good work may not be aligned with you/your audience in other aspects, for example their views toward LGBTQ+ communities.
What we look for at Lyrical Host
To give you some ideas, here’s what’s important to us:
- Smaller organizations – Although we donate to all kinds of companies, we prefer smaller organizations, especially ones with minimal bureaucracy and layers of management.
- That the charity or non-profit is morally in line with us and our customers. This means they should be LGBTQ+ friendly, not discriminate in terms of race, don’t have a record of hurting wildlife or people, haven’t seen instances of hate speech, shady practices, and so on.
- Minimal advertising and paperwork – It’s important to us that they don’t send endless marketing leaflets to us, call us up, or have money spent on a lot of things that aren’t the cause itself.
- A personal feel, where we can get to know the real people behind the cause, support each other as companies, or even get involved directly with helping.
- Minimal friction – it should be easy to donate online, know what the money is going toward, and so on.
You may want to make your own list of dealbreakers, so you can rule organizations out (or in!) from your list of options.
Once you’ve considered the above and done some research and reaching out, the intersection of all three points above should give you some strong ideas. If you have several different options, don’t worry – the next part of this post will help you narrow it down some more!
What to donate
The next major thing to decide is what you want to donate. Most people immediately think of donations as money, but you could do any of the following:
- Donate a product or service – this could be something like an ebook you’ve already created, or a call with an organization that would benefit them, or even custom work of some kind.
- Donate your time – This can lend itself well to local causes, for example we have a customer who helps at a sea turtle rescue center.
- Donate your skills – but if it’s a cause online, for example maintaining a charity’s website or advising them on particular tools/services, it can be done online. You may not think you have the skills needed – but honestly, you do! We’re literally seen people cry before just from helping them with simple ideas or updating a few plugins on their site. Search “volunteering near me” or if you’re UK based, have a look for a Good For Nothing chapter near you.
- Sponsor or provide free promo – If you’re a business, you could sponsor another business through buying supplies, paying for them to host a contest or similar. If you’re a blogger or influencer, you could create a blog post about the organization for free, create a short video or Story about them, or similar.
- Donate something measurable – One of the measurable causes we support is tree planting. We regularly increase the number of trees we’re planting, and many of our customers are interested to know how many trees they’ve planted or how many trees they’ve planted overall. As your blog or business grows, so can your donation.
- Divert tips or offers of payment – If you’re in a comfortable position to do so, and you weren’t expecting the money anyway – ask clients or visitors who are looking to pay you for a quick call or tip you for helping them, to donate to a cause or pay it forward instead.
- Build it into your business – If you work with a small number of clients on a one-to-one basis, it could be something that you personalize for each person by asking them, “what’s a cause or cause I can donate to that’s close to your heart?” That way you can adjust what you donate based on what the client is paying or how long they’re working with you. You may want to set some ground rules, for example we donate to causes on behalf of our staff, but require them to select one that is non-political and non-religious. That way we’re bringing people together rather than dividing them, or risk donating to something we/our customers don’t believe it.
If you’re a blogger, you may want to opt for something super affordable and scalable for you, and have it prominently on your site that you donate x much time or money to a cause per y visitors or revenue, and the total so far for the month/year, plus links to any relevant posts. Alternatively, you could make it part of your brand pitch or media kit for collaborations, and donate a certain percentage per invoice, or a certain percentage for every x invoices. Or you could team up with a bunch of bloggers and agree to do something together once a year, for example at Christmas.
Finalizing your choice
Hopefully by this point you’ve got a much better idea of the route you want to go down. In fact, you may still have a bunch of ideas, but it’s time to narrow it down to one.
In our first year, we started by committing to donating to Kurandza. We got a strong vibe from them and it felt like the right thing to do, even though our company wasn’t even profitable when we started partnering with them.
Although you may be keen to donate to multiple places, it’s best to start with one commitment and then review where you’re at after the first month, and then in six months or a year to see if it still feels like a good fit, you want to expand further, etc. This way you don’t take on too much all at once. It’s not just about the volunteering or donation itself, it’s also the work around it in terms of what planning, invoices, any collaborations or sharing of their work, and so on.
If you feel drawn to a lot of different causes, have some that are your main ongoing commitments, and others that are one-offs. These are typically seasonal or one-off events, for example we donated to a women’s abuse organization one Christmas, and a koala hospital affected in the Australian bush fires in January 2020.
We try to add one hero cause per year, so it’s manageable, but we don’t have a limit on one-off causes. You could look at donating more when you have two good months in a row, or when you feel you have more time to commit.
Once you’ve chosen, you can reach out to the organization however you prefer, or simply start a donation with them online. You don’t necessarily need to create a personal relationship right away if you don’t want to, especially if you’re planning to scale to other causes in the future; sharing some of their work on social media is enough.
Highlighting the causes you support
This can be a tricky area to navigate, as while non-profits and charities rely on people spreading the word and supporting them, you don’t want to promote them on your site in a way that inadervently comes across as virture signaling, insincere, or making it about you instead of them.
What we’ve done is put a Causes page on our website, where it’s in the menu but not a major link. We also email customers when we’ve planted trees for them, and periodically share new updates from the causes we actively support on social media.
You could share how many people/animals you’ve helped or how many trees you’ve planted in your sidebar or footer if you’re a blogger, and if you’re a business owner with a client onboarding process, you could refer to it in that. Don’t make it a leading point of doing business with you unless it makes sense to, for example you make recycled products with waste from X organization, or you’re a swimming teacher that volunteers at a community center. If it’s a personal contribution you’re making, you may want to talk about your experiences helping out on blogs or videos, if they’re comfortable with that. Another option could be to partner with the organization for a blog post or podcast episode, which you could share on social media and via email, and explain your involvement.
Don’t feel like your contribution isn’t valuable or worthwhile no matter how small it is. It’s always better than doing nothing at all. There’s np pressure to share exact figures or percentages of donations if you’re not comfortable with that – in fact, it can be better as it doesn’t distract from the organization or derail the conversation.
While it’s totally up to you whether you go down this route or not and how invested you get, we’d highly recommend it if you feel like you need extra purpose with what you’re doing or you want to increase the impact of your blog or business in the wider world. We hope this has given you some food for thought and ideas of what you can do to get started giving back via your blog or business!
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