In the hundreds of casinos we have been privileged to work with, there hasn’t been one that didn’t have significant support for several charitable endeavors. And interestingly, most tend not to “toot their horn” very much about this philanthropy.
Oftentimes, charity responsibilities fall on the marketing department. This is probably the appropriateplace for it, as it involves the casino’s brand and community image, and the charity involvement is usually very important to key constituencies like the CEO, senior management, casino owners, tribal leadership and sometimes casino team members.
In my casino career, I have been involved in hundreds of casino supported charities. Sometimes it involves only writing a check for a client’s charity golf tournament. But in three situations, myself or my company has been “all-in” with a charity and have been responsible for helping them raise, in total, over $500,000 through the years. I am honored that the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling, and now (for the last two years) the Notah Begay III Foundation, have all allowed us the freedom and support to help raise much needed funds for their critically important work serving their communities.
From this experience, plus seeing numerous clients execute their charitable efforts, I’d like to share a few tips on perhaps how you can make your own or your company’s charity fundraising efforts more successful:
Build relationships, not “charity giving transactions.” In the dozen or so years I raised money for MDA, I encountered several young, dynamic local district directors. They were vastly underpaid, but incredibly successful because they were skilled at building relationships with their supporters. They were helpful, encouraging, appreciative and fun.
Apply effective marketing principles. Whether you are trying to get a guest to part with a few bucks at a slot machine or a potential donor to fork over some cash for an important charity, the marketing principles are the same. You need to identify your target audience, you need to segment them on their past history (or legitimate future potential), you have to reach them in a way they like to be reached, and you have to make them a benefit-filled offer that speaks “what’s in it for me?”
Be organized and have a plan. Too often, I have seen various casino marketing executives treat their casino charity fundraisers like a toothache—they don’t turn their attention to it until the last minute, when time is critical. Better to embrace it, plan for it, and be promoting it, in some fashion, for the entire year.
Leverage your celebrities. Most charities have celebrities, VIPs or local politicos that give high profile support and help potential donors loosen their wallets. For the NB3 Foundation, the celebrity is Notah Begay III, four-time PGA Tour winner, golf commentator for NBC, and the only full blooded, Native American PGA Tour member, who has masterfully created an organization that has raised and distributed nearly $20 million toward the health of Native American children.
Utilize your employees and your customers. You don’t necessarily have to beg your team members and guests to open their wallets for your casino’s favorite charity (although you can if you do it right), but there are numerous ways to get them aware, involved and supportive.
Never pass up an opportunity to raise a buck or enlist support for your charity. Case in point, I’m not sure how many people peruse this column, but if you are reading this column right now, and your casino or your business serves the Native American gaming industry, I implore you, this minute, to go to www.nb3f.org and make a donation to help address the epidemic of obesity and type 2 diabetes among Native American youth. Or, if you or your company are going to be at NIGA in Phoenix on March 14 – 16, 2016, spring for a table for the Native Strong Comedy Slam, at Gila River Casino—Lone Butte. Three of the funniest Native American comics in the country will be there, selflessly donating their time and laugh-making skills to help Notah help Native kids.
Sorry for the marketing nudge, but “marketing your cause” is all about those well-timed nudges.