Fundraiser at The Ottawa Hospital – Mark’s Buckshon point of view

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By Mark Buckshon

The concept may seem counterintuitive, yet it relates to one of the most powerful business-building techniques you can apply, if you take the longer-term view.

“The more you give, without expectation of return, the more you receive.”

Generosity, with your time, ideas, money and resources, may seem to be a drain. However, there’s an amazing positive correlation when you share and give wisely.

This doesn’t mean being a push-over for every taker in the world, or failing to be paid fairly for your products and services. Yet, generosity’s positive impact cannot be understated.

I’m writing these notes, for example, as I prepare for a 108 km cycling event to support cancer research at The Ottawa Hospital.

Local construction industry leaders, notably Robert Merkley of masonry supplier Merkley Supply Ltd., (along with Roger Greenberg of Minto Communities and Claude Des Rosiers of Boone Plumbing and Heating Supply Ltd.) decided to initiate the idea after observing a similar successful event in Toronto some six years ago.

Since 2010, the annual fundraiser has collected more than $8 million for cancer research.

But how does this generosity help their businesses? They aren’t saying, because they haven’t supported the initiative with the intent of gaining any business advantage. However, I can speak about my own experiences, and these have proven to be enlightening.

From the start, I agreed that we would provide positive editorial coverage and free advertising in support of the ride. (Robert Merkley wanted more – large pull-out sections within our printed publications – and agreed to pay the additional costs, though we discounted the additional advertising to our lowest ongoing rates.)

At various events and community activities, I’ve connected with others supporting the project. I don’t go there expecting to win business, but over the years I’ve noticed profitable sales have resulted from the relationships here.

The reason, I believe, relates to one of marketing’s biggest and most vital concepts: The importance of trust in attracting and retaining clients. Selfless generosity and community service certainly enhance reputations and make it easier for people to be comfortable in doing business with us.

(A bonus: I discovered I enjoy the training process, and have built long cycling rides into my daily commute. The result: Enhanced health, as early signs of pre-diabetes have disappeared, even as I consume additional carbohydrates to offset the energy required for the cycling.)

Please note that you cannot succeed with this generous approach if you expect it to provide any sort of benefit to you.  In other words if you are looking for “return on investment” you should look elsewhere. People can see through insincere generosity and will head for the hills. Equally, you should not brag about your service/commitments – let the people who you support recognize you publicly. (In this case, I’m helpful because I work with the hospital and other non-profits to provide the free publicity.)

We’re always ready, of course, to support good causes and worthy deeds. Tell us about them and we’ll help with the publicity. While you cannot win bragging rights for your selfless contributions, you’ll discover the rewards if you give the process enough time and you truly are committed to your generosity.

Mark Buckshon is president of the Construction News and Report Group of Companies. He publishes a daily blog at www.constructionmarketingideas.com, and can be reached by phone at (888) 627-8717 or by email at buckshon@cnrgp.com.  If you would like to contribute to The Ride (the hospital will issue a tax receipt), visit this link: http://goo.gl/wJ9wgW.

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