If not, you might want to rethink it. Not only because helping others is inherently powerful and feels really good, though those are reasons enough. Not only because when you give, you open doors for others to give - you create a kind of ripple effect by example, making the world, in one tiny way, a more caring place, though those are reasons enough too. Not only because, when you use your business to do good works in the world you create a sense of achievement and inner satisfaction that even great sales can't provide - a sense of your work actually meaning something in the broader context of the world, though once more, that alone would be reason enough. You should also include philanthropy in your platform because it's good for your business.
Here are a few reasons why philanthropy will help you sell more books:
- Because your platform will have grown from just selling books to supporting a charity or cause, you will increase your visibility. If you pick a charity that has some connection with the theme of your writing, you can make use of the charity to promote your work. Take a photo with them as you hand over a large, mocked-up check (followed of course by a real one) and use it in your promotions. Provide them with free material (books, bookmarks, handouts) which will further expose your work. Get out there and be seen supporting the charity. You will become known for being a good person (which you will be!) and can take advantage of that by creating positive press.
- It will differentiate you from your non-charitable competitors - some people call this "cause-marketing". According to Inc magazine, some 79% of Americans will switch to your brand if you are associated with a good cause. You can read that as buying your book over a similar book that isn't allied with a cause. If your good works stimulate your competitors to jump on the philanthropy bandwagon, then you've done double-good. Don't hestiate to take the credit for doing it first!
- Depending on the charity you choose to support, you're also helping to create a future market by supporting your community, literacy, the world. If you support literacy for example, as I do, you're creating a world of readers who may ultimate form your book buying public. You're growing a more literate world. That's the world into which you market.
Magdalena Ball runs The Compulsive Reader and is the author of a number of poetry books and novels. She has pledged 50% of the sales of her most recent novel, Black Cow, to the literacy charity Pencils of Promise, an organisation building 50 schools around the world.