We get a request for a charitable & promotional contribution of some form about once every 2 weeks. Most of these charities or groups are people who we’ve never even heard from before and many don’t really offer much in terms of marketing opportunities. Many are also only tangentially related to our industry, so many of these e-mails are just ‘mass’ mailings to see what they can get.
Over the years, we’ve varied how much and under what conditions we’ll provide charitable contributions. One hard and fast rule we’ve made though is not to support any charity / event that isn’t Canadian. After all, most of our customers are Canadian and sending product across the border increases our cost so much, there’s really no point.
Currently, we don’t have a hard budget for our charitable contributions. Part of that is due to the fact that we generally provide products as our contribution, which allows us to be a bit more flexible in what we can offer. Thankfully, being in this industry, we can generally provide decent games that aren’t complete turkeys that don’t sell well for us. Still, even without a budget we need a way to guesstimate how much to send to each charity (unless said charity already has sponsorship levels).
That’s where we start assessing potential return and relevance. If you are a gaming related event / charity, it makes more sense to provide more products to you. If it’s for an event where we expect the games to be used regularly, we’ll provide more (examples including schools and libraries looking to expand their programming). On the other hand, if it’s a charity for pet therapy for example, there’s not a lot of relevance for us.
From there, we also look at the size of the event. If it’s an event with only 50 people arriving, it’s no use sending 20 games. If it’s an event where there’s a few thousand, then a larger contribution makes sense since it ‘spreads’ the contribution around further.
One thing we don’t do, or haven’t done, is chosen to support / advocate for any specific cause. Of course, we ran the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau’s donation drive last year, but it’s not a ’cause’ if you will. There’s a few reasons for that, mostly due to my belief that my personal views / feelings shouldn’t impact the way the business is run. Still, now that Christmas is coming, I’m wondering if we should look at running another charity drive.