Shake up the Holiday Gifts

ribbonhand1When I was an employee of a larger firm, this was my favorite time of year. Vendors who we worked with, or were vying for our business, would send overflowing baskets of holiday treats to show their gratitude.

Harry David pears, endless flavors of popcorn, Lindt chocolate truffles – the list of waist bulging items was almost endless. We would also send various seasonal gifts to clients, whether it was cards or other assorted items.

But what if gift-giving went a step further? What if your gifts could impact more than just your clients and helped the community?

Here are a few ideas:

Give them cold, hard cash – but stipulate that they use it to “Pay It Forward.”

Chances are that your clients don’t need an extra $100 in their wallet, but they know someone who does. Send them an envelope with a $100 bill, but also a note saying they have to think of someone who needs this money. In order to inspire others, they need to report back on their experience. Set up a Blog post about the initiative and allow comments where these clients can tell their stories. Not only will this help those less fortunate, but it will also show visitors to your website that you don’t just care about helping people who have plenty of money.

Donate services of behalf of your clients.

Have you and your staff done any service projects lately? During the cold winter months, the homeless charities (amongst others) are inundated with requests for help and services for those without a home. Take your staff, donate some time – in the honor of your clients – and literally help those who are less fortunate. Take a company photo of your team at work and send it to your clients. Tell them that without their support of your company and services, you would unable to take time away from the office to help those who need it.

Don’t just sponsor a family for Christmas, sponsor a community.

A popular donation during the holidays is to sponsor a family and provide them gifts and food. Now is chance to make a difference in your community and include your clients. Make an announcement that you will be making a donation to sponsor multiple families throughout this season. Invite your clients to get involved – hold clothes and toy drives in your office where they can bring items that will be used in this donation. If you need added incentive, you can also mention that these gifts are tax- deductible so you can help provide the necessary inventory paperwork for their upcoming tax return.

Helping the world at large.

Many times it’s easier to make a cash donation on behalf of clients and then tell them about it. It’s quick and easy but it still shows you care. Why not mix up where these donations go – instead of staying local, help out causes in other countries. World Vision has a great donation system where it allows you to buy certain things for villages in Africa (amongst other places). It can range from animals, clothes, wells, and loans to businesswomen. Get creative with how you portray this to your clients – why not make a video showing everything you’ve purchased on their behalf?

Concerned about the environment? Plant a tree for every client.

Organizations like Plant a Billion through the Nature Conservatory (http://www.plantabillion.org/) or Trees for the Future (http://www.treesforthefuture.org/) allow for easy ways to donate to projects like this and can even send certificates to clients to make the donation have a lasting impact.

 

While these are only a small range of ideas of how you can appreciate clients, make sure your gifts don’t just benefit them. Let’s help others this season.

Dave Grant Dave Grant, CFP®, is the founder of Finance For Teachers a fee-only RIA in Cary, IL. Dave exclusively serves teachers in Illinois by helping them to organize their financial lives and live a fulfilled life. He is also a columnist at Financial Planning magazine, a ghost writer for various companies, and the founder of NAPFA Genesis, a networking group for over 300 young, fee-only planners.