One in eight American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. To put that statistic into perspective: you’re 15 times more likely to know someone with breast cancer than to be audited by the IRS (1 in 119). And you’re 375 times more likely to have a brush with the disease than get hit by lightning (1 in 3,000).
Since breast cancer injects itself into so many lives, it’s only natural to want to raise funds for research and treatments. And right now, during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, is the perfect time to get your small business involved.
So how should you lend your support? If you don’t have a million-dollar budget at your disposal, it can be difficult to know where to begin. So we’ve identified a range of ways your small business can get involved no matter how much you have to spend. And bonus: these tips can work regardless of the cause you support (pink or not).
The most obvious way to get involved: give a portion of your sales to charity.
Ryan Zamo, CEO and founder of Z Skin Cosmetics, has seen how many cancer patients are afraid to use chemical products during chemotherapy. He’s also seen how his organic makeup is making a difference. During the month of November, Zamo’s business donates 10 percent of every purchase to breast cancer awareness charities.
“After hearing my customers’ stories about why they appreciate my organic products, I knew it would be a great way to give back,” he says. “It’s going to a great cause.”
Even if your business doesn’t have a direct tie to cancer patients, you can still support the cause by donating a portion of your sales to a charity — a smaller portion for tighter budgets and a more generous offering for larger purse strings.
Offer Themed Products or Services
Offering awareness-themed items or donating products to fundraisers are simple ways to get involved with the cause.
Take Ben Freedland as an example. Without women, he wouldn’t have much of a business. That’s why Freedland, who owns women’s lifestyle brand Zink, wanted to join the fight against breast cancer and give back to the women who have supported his company.
Each year, he designs a pink handbag or scarf. The proceeds benefit a breast cancer awareness charity.
“Since I design handbags and accessories, it was no-brainer for me,” he says. “Originally it started out just for the month of October. But after hearing about how many of my clients and their friends and family went through breast cancer treatment, I continued the donation until the bag sold out. I have often reordered a particular style if it sold well in order to maximize the donation.”
In addition to his themed offering, Freedland often donates pink Zink items to be auctioned off at charity fundraisers.
If your business has more resources to spare, consider creating a themed item for the month or marking specific products as sales-to-proceeds purchases. Donating samples of your regular product to charitable fundraisers is a lower-cost way to give back.
Host an Event
Finally, don’t be afraid to get personal.
Evan Mountain, the owner of Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., was inspired to create a charity event after both his mother and mother-in-law were affected by the disease. “I came up with Dancing with the Survivors so we could tell each survivor’s story through dance. Each woman’s story is unique and special, so we make each dance performance unique and special.”
The annual event features a performance by breast cancer survivors paired with one of the studio’s professional dancers, as well as music, cocktails, and food. It has raised more than $500,000 by celebrating “a nationwide community of breast cancer survivors while raising funds to help others restore their livelihood.”
Whether you’re honoring survivors with a fundraiser or giving away proceeds, it’s never been easier for small businesses to join the fight against breast cancer. Let’s think pink!
Kasee Bailey is a freelance writer who draws on her experience working at one of the nation’s top b-schools to report on education, savvy startups, and the latest business trends.