“Do Well by Doing Good” is a familiar business axiom that has proven true again and again.
Partnering with a charitable organization enables business owners to support causes that they believe in and, on an altruistic level, make a difference in the lives of cancer patients, youth sports organizations, educational and arts groups, and others.
From a business standpoint, the goodwill that is built can be measured in dollars and cents, although not immediately. For instance, Shaun Clancy, owner of Manhattan’s top baseball bar, Foley’s NY Pub & Restaurant, makes thousands of dollars in donations annually to his favorite charities as part of “giveback” events. Frequently, it is a customer who comes with an idea. Other times, a current or former Major League player may have a foundation that wants to do a fundraiser in a baseball-related setting.
“We’ve gotten pretty good at these over the years,” says Clancy, who often has celebrities do baseball signings/meet-and-greet events.
Among the famous athletes who have hosted events at Foley’s are Tommy John, Steve Garvey, Sean Casey, Yankees reliever David Robertson, and Mets icons Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling. Foley’s has also raised money to help retired NFL players and the families of Team USA Wrestlers travel to the Olympics. Gold medal winner Henry Cejudo made good on his promise to return if he won in 2008.
“Sometimes an athlete will want to guest bartend. We’ll let them do it for the photo opp and for customers who will stuff the tip jar because of the celebrity, but you can get more people involved when you set up an orderly meet-and-greet line,” Clancy says. “It’s like going to the mall to meet Santa Claus. There’s an anticipation, a shared moment, and the excitement about telling your friends about it.”
“Guest bartending gets us publicity, but the reality is that the players usually aren’t very good bartenders. The customers will start sharing their stories, and it slows the process — if especially if we have a packed house,” Clancy explained. “The process is more efficient with a meet-and-greet format. It also protects the celebrity from hangers-on because security will move the chatty person down the line. That way, everyone gets their moment of interaction. It doesn’t always happen if the celebrity is bartending and one person monopolizes him.”
Fundraising events – even in cases when Foley’s donates all of the proceeds from the evening – usually pay back the kindness in the long-run. Before any fundraising event, Foley’s will promote it in the media and via Twitter, Facebook and its other social media outlets. Often the participant — especially when it’s a current player – will have his team publicize the event with beat writers, bloggers, and the organization’s website and social media channels. First-time visitors to Foley’s who attend fundraising events at the pub often come back again as repeat customers. The fundraiser is what initially gets them through the door.
Clancy advises other small business owners to do two things. First is to have a passion for the recipient cause.
“If the cause somehow is not in line with your personal values system, or if it’s something that’s low on your list of things you want to support, choose another organization. There’s a limit to how many fundraisers any business can sponsor each year,” he says.
Secondly, investigate the organization.
“There are countless relief organizations. I research to see what percentage of each dollar the charity receives actually goes to the program’s mission,” Clancy advises. “If an organization spends more money on administration and fundraising than they do on actually helping disaster victims or cancer patients, I look for another charity.”