As a native Chicagoan, I learned early on what it means to give back. Above learning never to put ketchup on hot dogs and how to brave a bad snowstorm, Chicagoans are taught to work hard, to come together and, most importantly, to give back. It's a philosophy that I've carried through my life as a woman, as a mother (you wouldn't believe how many times you hear the words "give it back!" in my house), and as the founder and CEO of Yakkety Yak.
Giving back has been at the forefront of Yakkety Yak's mission since I founded the agency in 2012. With few resources, tight budgets and big hearts, nonprofits carry out the metropolitan area's most important projects, aiding communities with their most pressing needs. Through Yakkety Yak's partnerships, we've helped local nonprofits widen their audiences, spread awareness and, ultimately, raise funds.
When it comes to forming a nonprofit partnership that works for your business, focus on your passion. Whether your organization cares about increasing childhood literacy or decreasing homelessness, there are countless nonprofits in every city dedicated to serving important causes. Next, see where your business fits. For instance, if you own a cafe, you can partner with a soup kitchen and donate leftover baked goods at the end of the day so your food does not go to waste. Working with an organization that can make use of your surplus diminishes your waste and makes a positive impact. It's a win-win.
While it would be simple (and delicious!) to have extra pastries to give away at the end of every day, not all companies have the luxury of a sugary surplus. If you run a professional service firm such as a PR, law, accounting or marketing company, consider a pro bono nonprofit partnership. Your staff will be excited about working for a cause they care about, and the nonprofit will show their appreciation by promoting your company heavily.
I witnessed the power of a pro bono partnership when we launched our Yakkety Yak Gives Back program this fall. We donated a year of marketing services to a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that is women-owned or women-benefitted. We have had the unique honor of working with Girls in the Game, a Chicago nonprofit dedicated to empowering girls through health, leadership and sports-based programs. Our work with Girls in the Game has opened the door to partnerships with numerous local nonprofits, raising awareness about our brand in a whole new sector.
Even if you're unable to donate your professional services, offering physical assistance is a great way to lend a helping hand. One of our partners, Anselmo Lindberg & Associates LLC, volunteers regularly with Feed My Starving Children to help them pack food for children in need. They also volunteer to clean up our roadways with Adopt-A-Highway. It's a huge part of their culture. The beauty of doing something hands-on is that it's really great for team building and morale. Poll your team to see where their interests lie and plan a paid day of volunteer service. Developing partnerships with nonprofits doesn't always have to be an elaborate undertaking. Every company has their niche. Whether you're able to donate your surplus, services or volunteer your time, every organization has the power to make a positive impact.
• Ashley Logan is the founder and CEO of Yakkety Yak Creative Marketing Agency in Chicago. A West suburban resident, she is an avid supporter of women in business, philanthropy and startup organizations and believes in making a difference, a value that is built into the agency culture. For more information, visit www.yakketyyak.com.