Instead of sending out Xmas Cards to clients - I need an alternative
November 30, 2013 10:01 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for an innovative alternative to sending out Xmas cards to clients.

Instead of sending Christmas cards to my clients this year. I would like to give the money (approx. $500 to charity). I know its not a a lot but my business is quite small.

But, I will be honest about this. I will need to do it in a way where I can get some publicity out of it. Even if the publicity is as simple as myself writing about it in my company blog. But rather than saying "well instead of send out cards this year I wrote a check to XYZ charity..." I feel I need to do it in a more innovative way.

The motivation for this: Well, in the past, I have often picked my own suppliers on their ethical credentials rather than picking suppliers who seem to have a philosophy of "take, take, take".

So all ideas would be welcome? Or, what have you seen businesses do in the past that you liked?

(BTW, I own a small I.T. services firm.)
posted by jacobean to Work & Money (13 answers total)
I think it will all come down to how you word the blog post.

Shoot for some introductory well-wishing for the holidays, then segue into "my clients understand that we strive not just to do well, but to do *good*... and that got me to thinking about how to break out of the holiday rituals a bit and route some resources to [name-of-charity]. In that spirit, rather than sending out Christmas cards, and paying postage, I'm going to redirect those monies to help fight against [cause]. I hope you'll understand."

If you have some photos of yourself at the charity, or shots of the charity's building, or someone served by the charity, that would be a good addition.
posted by Wild_Eep at 10:10 AM on November 30, 2013

One of my clients sends e-cards to their Xmas card list, noting that their staff had voted to donate to charity what the company would otherwise spend on holiday cards.
posted by DrGail at 10:15 AM on November 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Do you have a charity in mind? You may want to choose one that has a natural tie-in with your business (IT services for struggling local families, IT job training for low-income folks, maybe literacy?), or your personal story (for example a health charity if you have had a family health scare in recent times, a charity to help disaster relief in a region where you have some ties, outdoors activities for kids if you were a scout, etc) -- that will make it a much more natural and easy writeup for your blog or e-card, reinforcing the values you'd like clients to associate with your business.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:19 AM on November 30, 2013

Buy them all a chicken, or goat or seeds? Oxfam unwrapped has a wide range of things to choose from in all sorts of price ranges. You will also get a card you can send to the client so double win (or an ecard). It is a little more expensive though if you have a lot of clients than individual mass produced cards. You could do a similar idea but with ecards, this year we decided to forgo Christmas cards and instead we got you x (where x = something tangible you can say your money would buy for a charity).
posted by wwax at 10:29 AM on November 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

I would just be cautious that whatever you chose isn't worded in such a way that it could be interpreted as criticizing businesses that do send Christmas cards (which may include a number of your clients). None of the above suggestions seem to do that so you're in good hands.
posted by cecic at 10:33 AM on November 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

One idea might be to send out an interactive e-card that allows clients to vote on one of three or four charities you've selected.

But, to be honest with you, I don't think I would do this at all. It's obvious that your heart is in the right place, but it's hard for me to think of a way to get "publicity" for this act without you coming across as a little self-congratulatory. It honestly rubs some people the wrong way when people publicize their own charitable efforts, especially when you've taken something away from them (yes, it's just a stupid holiday card, but still) in order to do something you feel good about.

Second, sending a card like this could be read as an implicit criticism of the clients who think sending out holiday cards is a worthwhile use of their own company's money.

Lastly, it depends on how many clients you're dealing with, but it can be really difficult to find a charity neutral enough to please all of the people at all of the companies you work with. There are several high-profile, seemingly neutral charities (Komen, Kiva) that I don't support for various reasons and I would not be pleased to have a donation made in my name to them.

All that said, I would personally not mind this at all if I was your client, but I don't know if you want to take the risk of rubbing your more sensitive clients the wrong way.
posted by lalex at 10:42 AM on November 30, 2013 [9 favorites]

Is there a local musician, the high school choir, family member who has a holiday album?
Dear client, To wish you very happy holidays, here is Feliz Navidad performed by the Podunk Men's Choir and attach the .mp3, for which you have paid the choir. I have also made a donation to the Podunk Food Pantry. I hope your New Year is peaceful and abundant.
posted by theora55 at 10:51 AM on November 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Thanks for letting me know about your tax write off.

Really, if you don't want to send holiday greeting cards, just don't.
posted by 26.2 at 11:07 AM on November 30, 2013 [9 favorites]

"When you give to the poor, don’t let anyone know what you are doing. Your giving should be done in secret."
posted by Tom-B at 11:28 AM on November 30, 2013 [6 favorites]

Make a video explaining this. Speak from the heart. Explain why you chose the charity you chose (also shows that you think critically -- not just giving to the first cause that occurs). This will help foster a personal human connection with your clients, and between your clients and the organization you choose to highlight.
posted by amtho at 12:19 PM on November 30, 2013

This would leave a positive impression on me, if we're doing datapoints. (As long as you weren't super braggy about it.)
posted by threeants at 1:24 PM on November 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

So you want to use the money normally set aside for socially approved advertising/networking for charity and still get the benefits of sending out holiday cards?

I think it matters how valued these cards are to people in your clients and associates pool. Do they really like getting these cards or is it more of a "These are junkmail!" attitude?
posted by Phalene at 1:37 PM on November 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't do this because you negate the point of the cards, making contact with customers outside business to increase their emotional warmth towards your company. People don't care about the cost of the card, so much as the effort - an impersonal machine-addressed fancy gold foil $8 card is worth less in effect than a handwritten simple card for $2.

An email e-card that says we made a donation is just a quick click to ignore, and the risk of picking an offending charity is high. If there was a very recent national or local disaster, you could make the gesture but it would still seem self-serving.

Compromise and get the cards from an animal shelter charity (not PETA) like these.
posted by viggorlijah at 11:15 PM on November 30, 2013

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