Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Where to draw the line with benefits: Audience is number one

We all know that fundraisers are important parts of keeping businesses alive, but what about benefits for outside causes?

A few months ago, Whoopi Goldberg gave away all the money from one performance of Sister Act the Musical to President Obama's reelection campaign. For me, this felt a bit off the right track. If I were a patron, I wouldn't want to give my money to a political cause. I'd be going to the show for pure entertainment. But then again, it is Goldberg's money to be giving away. But considering where that money came from, she had better be sure all her patrons that night and her cast actually support Obama. And if you bring politics into a show, that may affect what patrons are willing to give you their business in the future.

Next month, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is doing a similar benefit for the non-profit Trevor Project, which "saves the lives' of LGBT youth considering suicide. It's a little less political of a cause, it has a good front of saving lives, and How to Succeed star Daniel Radcliffe has been supporting the project for some time, but it's still controversial.

Then there's Broadway Cares - Equity Fights AIDS. A yearly time during which stars collect donations from patrons after each show to go toward fighting AIDS.

These are all causes that could have a negative or positive spin depending on your political and moral beliefs. Is there a line you cross that could affect your business more negatively than positively? Obviously, you can't please everyone. A newspaper will choose to front one political candidate, but not all of the newspaper staff will support that candidate.

From a business perspective, the number one thing you can do is consider who your audience is and how they will respond to the cause you are collecting money for. If you're doing a benefit for personal reasons, then I suppose you have to stand up for what you have to stand up for, but if you're going to consider how it will affect your business, look for the benefits and causes that will give you a positive spin with your audiences.

1 comment:

  1. Extremely well said. As someone who worked for a government contractor for 25 years, I had to learn to watch what I said. If you're a conservative, political correctness can crush you. It was never that way for those on the left, of course. It affects conservative entertainers, too; but it doesn't hurt Hollywood leftests (except for the Dixie Chicks -- but they entertained country music lovers, who tend to be conservative).

    I think the discriminator in business is that people on the right will forgive a business like Home Depot if it serves the right products, conveniently, and at better prices. People on the left are not so forgiving.