Focus on Giving and the Getting will come

Uh oh… here she comes… that lady from the local kid’s charity who is always wanting a free banner. She comes in, without fail, every year and asks for a banner to promote the current youth activity event…

The question at this point is what feelings are running through your chest? Do you have warm pleasant emotions because you know you are helping a good cause or did your stomach just tighten up because you don’t like people who always want something for free?

Regardless of your previous experiences and current views it is important to point out a few benefits of a sign shop helping out a charity. Consider the fact that we, as an industry, have a unique opportunity to help all sorts of local groups, charities, churches and other deserving organizations. Our specialized skills in creating effective and pertinent advertising products can go a long way towards helping a honorable cause. We can contribute a fraction of time and effort, provide valuable signage and become instrumental in possibly helping the next musical prodigy, finding a cure for cancer or simply helping someone provide a meal for a soul in need.

In the real world; however, we simply cannot be the “go-to shop” for every worthy cause in town. If we spent all of that time and money on everyone’s charity project we would quickly be out of business and broke. While it is nice to help, we do need to set some boundaries for ourselves and our local hopefuls. Here are a few questions to consider before agreeing to help…

  1. Does this cause have special significance for you or your shop?
  2. Will helping this cause create any undue stress in your shop?
  3. Will this project cause another, paying client’s project, to be delayed?
  4. Is this individual genuinely involved with the charity or just looking for a free handout?
  5. Is there any gratitude or is your help simply taken for granted?
  6. Will your charity work be spread around town until every cause shows up on your doorstep expecting the same service?

These are all legitimate concerns and, in order to make sure we can continue to support those local causes, we have to make sure we stay profitable. As long as we are conducting our sign business AS a business we will find the time & means to help deserving causes. At the same time, as soon as that individual becomes demanding or expectant or feels entitled to our help, the assistance stops.

I personally believe that it is every sign shop’s responsibility to be an active and participatory member of their community. Whether you get involved with local chamber events, donate some banners to a local fund raising event, contribute money or simply devote some time to work a booth, anything can and will help.

If we all spend some time on giving we WILL start to see the getting.