Give It Up

Harry Hoover

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Americans spent almost as much in two months on holiday items as they did all year on charitable giving in 2004. Holiday retail sales for November and December 2004 in the general merchandise category were up 5.7 percent, totaling roughly $229 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. Charitable giving for 2004 topped $248 billion.

Why am I telling you this? Because once again I'm promoting Holiday for Charity, which encourages more donations to charity.

The program works like this:

1. ask friends, family and business associates to donate to a charity instead of buying you holiday gifts

2. sell your gifts online at eBay's GivingWorks and donate the proceeds to charity

3. register and shop at iGive, whose merchants donate a portion of each transaction to the charities of your choice.

4. offer to do volunteer work in lieu of buying holiday gifts

5. donate directly to charity in lieu of buying holiday gifts for clients and customers

Giving to charity in the names of your clients instead of buying holiday gifts is a good way for a business to establish itself as an upstanding corporate citizen. Charitable giving is tax deductible and - when properly done and communicated - helps a business position itself positively in the eyes of its key audiences.

Recent research indicates that 80 percent of Americans have a more positive image of businesses identified as supporting charitable causes. Two-thirds say they would likely switch brands or retailers to one associated with a good cause.

So, give it up this holiday season and get some goodwill.

Harry Hoover is managing principal of Hoover ink PR . He has 26 years of experience in crafting and delivering bottom line messages that ensure success for serious businesses like Brent Dees Financial Planning, Focus Four, Levolor, New World Mortgage, North Carolina Tourism, TeamHeidi, Ty Boyd Executive Learning Systems, VELUX, Verbatim and Wicked Choppers.


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