5 Ways to Integrate a Charity Component to your Business

Since founding Cressey Sports Performance (CSP) during the summer of 2007, we have had the opportunity to raise tens of thousands of dollars for a variety of charitable endeavors.  From large-scale entities like the Wounded Warrior Project, to charities entrenched firmly in our local community, we've had the pleasure of assisting in fund-raising for many causes we believe in.  After all, helping others feels good, so why not?

Successful people find value in unexpected places, and do this by thinking about business from first principles instead of formulas.
— Peter Theil - Zero to One

I understand that creating a profitable fitness facility can be a challenging endeavor, and finding dollars in an already tight budget can be an overwhelming concept.  This doesn't need to keep you from doing so, as I've come across a handful of different ways to help your community while helping yourself.  Here are five quick ways CSP focuses on principles to "make the pie bigger" and allow for charitable contributions to flow from the business.

1. Charity Bootcamps (CSP Strength Camps)

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Here at CSP, we host a charity Strength Camp once every 4-6 weeks.  We allow for members of our Strength Camp community to suggest the charities of their choice as we identify the cause we intend to support.  Part of our reasoning for crowd-sourcing the charity ideas is to engage our clients and increase the likelihood that they assist in the efforts to increase event foot traffic.  On the day of the event we suggest a $5 minimum donation, often resulting in considerably larger contributions from generous participants.  

When all is said and done, 100% of the money collected goes toward a great cause.  Outside of being able to "do some good", you also have the opportunity to showcase your unique training environment to potential clients.  Since these events are open to the public, and your existing clients often bring friends, you can expose people to your socially aware business that just so happens to provide an exceptional service.  Who doesn't like the idea of generating leads while helping others in need?

2.  Sampson the Pig

Clients of CSP are routinely taken through an initial assessment process so that we can gather the information necessary to prepare entirely individualized training materials tailored to fit their unique needs.  Once designed, programs are printed, stapled, and handed to the athlete for execution.  We've wall-mounted a nice little rack on the wall next to our front desk and ask that clients file their programs alphabetically by last name so that their material is easily located and ready to go upon their arrival.  Sadly enough, our often-forgetful athletes seem to lose their programs ALL THE DAMN TIME.

We decided that there needed to be some sort of a perceived cost associated with asking our Office Manager Stacie to re-print training materials every time you arrive at the gym.  Enter Sampson the Pig...

Sampson (named by one of our professional baseball players) spends his days propped on the front desk here at CSP where he gladly collects $1 every time an athlete requires a program reprint.  Every dollar collected goes into the pool of Charity Bootcamp dollars sent off for donation each time we host an event.  Since young athletes are notoriously forgetful, business is good as it relates to Sampson.

While I realize not every fitness facility employs the same individualized programming model we utilize at CSP, I am fairly certain each and every gym owner out there has their own set of pet-peeves which could easily translate into "fines" paid to Sampson.  Put some thought into how you can fill your piggy bank, buy one you can handle looking at every day, and start collecting!

3. Gift Certificates

When we first got started up it was difficult for CSP to find money to donate.  What we had plenty of, however, was was space in our gym and energy to work with new people.  Whenever I am asked to contribute to a charity auction, I donate a gift certificate for an evaluation and four supervised training sessions here at CSP.  More often than not, the certificate fetches "actual value" during the event and it is a great way to introduce a new athlete to our "CSP Family".  Assuming we deliver a good experience, we end up with a paying client on our hands from their second month onward.  

4. Time for a Swear Jar

What's more frustrating than hearing a college athlete drop an F-bomb in your office as parents are reading their magazines and checking FB on their phones in the waiting area?  You can finally turn those frequent offenses into a positive.  Invest in a swear jar and set the ground rules.  $1 for the minor offenses and maybe even a $3 max for the particularly "off-limits" phrases America's youth seem so fond of today and you've got yourself a nice little stream of charity dollars flowing in!

5. Observational Guest Donations

Assuming you employ a collection of truly talented individuals, operate an efficient and profitable business, and deliver a unique training environment, it is inevitable that other fitness professionals will request the opportunity to visit your facility for observational purposes.  We have a firm "open-door" policy as it relates to welcoming observational guests, as it allows us to pay it forward following years of other individuals positively influencing the direction of our business.

While we have no intention of profiting on our observational guests (with the exception of the occasional tee shirt purchase), we do ask that visitors make a donation to a charity we like in exchange for the opportunity to spend a day being a fly-on-the-wall in our gym.  In our case, observational inquiries receive a canned response email outlining what can be expected during this type of visit and providing a hyperlink to make a donation to Tree Street Youth, a great organization owned and operated by Anna Cressey's sister.  Observational guests are welcome to email us a copy of their donation receipt in order to secure their visit time-slot in our calendar.

Get Started

There you have it...five quick and easy ways to start generating some charitable money beginning as early as today.  Most importantly, I've highlighted options which will essentially cost you the price of a couple of pieces of ceramic decor (piggy-bank/jar).  Time to get started!