Raising money for a local or international charity is an excellent way to become an involved and respected member of your community. It’s best to select one charity that is somehow related to your business, so your new and existing customers can feel connected to your cause. For example, if you’re a local coffee shop – support clean water or coffee farmers in developing nations. Or, if you run a pizza place, raise money for a local food kitchen or meal delivery service to help local families in need.


Before you begin asking your customers to support the local charity of your choice, there are two significant questions that you need to answer:

1) Legally, are you allowed to ask your customers for charitable donations?

The laws governing charitable solicitations vary by state, so it’s important to know what’s allowed (and what’s not) before you begin your fundraising. Check out www.multistatefiling.org to view the state-by-state index of regulations. When in doubt, contact your local chamber of commerce or small business development office – they should be able to help you get some answers.

2) Does the charity you want to support need or accept cash donations?

Some well-known charitable organizations (Red Cross, St. Jude’s, etc.) have policies in place about fundraising in their name. So, once you determine that you are allowed to fundraise within your location, contact the charity of your choice to see if / how you can help.

Check out this article on Idealist.org for more information on raising money for a charity of your choice.

Ok! Now we’re ready to fundraise!


What Do You Need to Fundraise?

  • A Story. Why are you fundraising for this specific group? How do you feel connected to them? Share this story with your employees and your customers.
  • A Goal and a Deadline. Track your goal in a visible way so that employees and customers can see the progress you’re making. It helps to set a time frame for your fundraising, too.
  • Persistence. Ask every customer for a donation. Passive Fundraising (putting a box and a sign out) doesn’t always work, and can be easy to ignore. Remember, even if you say, “Would you like to donate your change to ABC Organization?” 100 times a day, each customer only hears it once, so don’t worry about sounding repetitive.
  • Answers to Questions. Your entire team should be prepared to answer questions from customers such as: Why did you pick this charity? Who does this charity help, and how? What percentage of donations goes to the charity? How much more to raise until you reach your goal?

After sorting out the logistics, you need to promote your fundraising efforts! Use in-store signage and advertise on various social media channels. Make sure to include relevant information like:

  • The dates of your fundraiser
  • How much you want to raise
  • Various locations for donating
  • Who you are supporting
  • Any events associated with the fundraising

If you have multiple stores, you could create an incentive contest. At Starbucks, we found incentive contests to really drive engagement of the store teams and thus their customers. Winning store gets a party for the team and their customers!

You could also do a kick-off event to create a celebration in your location. Invite the local charity to be at the event and speak about their organization. If not a kick-off event, you could also consider a wrap-up celebration. For either event, consider inviting the media to cover your event and that could mean free publicity!

Here’s a great example of a local business supporting local charities:

Holy Cow, a new neighborhood burger place in Alexandria, VA, opened in December with a great local angle. Order your burger with all your fixin’s, then choose your sides including “What charity would you like to donate to?”

Holy Cow is creating a “mooovement” in many ways. They’ve partnered with ACT for Alexandria to give 25₵ from each burger purchased to one of ACT’s charity members. There are over 70 organizations to choose from with a cause for everyone…from music to animals to children to hunger and more.

In the first six weeks of operations, Holy Cow and its customers donated 11,278 quarters—$2,819.50—to help better Alexandria.

That’s a classic example of Local Store Marketing and being locally relevant!

For more information on launching a charity initiative:

Lastly, don’t forget to thank your contributors! Take to the social media airwaves and advertise in store to let people know how you did! Reference your cause, and inform them of how many donations you received – your customers will want to know that they helped make a difference in their community! Plus, it will help generate buzz for your next in-store charity event, and solidify you as part of the community.

For more ways on how to get involved with charitable organizations within your community, check out: