There are a lot of varying opinions when it comes to mixing business and politics. In some cases however, including politics in your business’s philosophical statements can still be a good move. It all depends on what kind of business you’re running and what you want your customers and clients to know when it comes to your own political beliefs. If you decide to get involved politically, know you’re in good company. As this Cheat Sheet article points out, there are many big name companies that donate large amounts of money in political elections.
A presidential campaign is actually very similar to a startup company, which is one of the reasons it’s smart for a business to follow politics. In a recent article, The New York Times compared the funds raised over a 21-month period for the Obama and Romney campaigns in the 2012 election. The article then compared those numbers to the startup capital raised by Facebook, Twitter, Uber and Snapchat. The results are fascinating, showing that both Obama and Romney’s campaigns raised far more money than any of the biggest startups. “A lot of startups and a lot of campaigns are similar,” said David Plouffe, President Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, in the New York Times article. “Decisions need to be made, and there are new challenges every day, while at the same time, you’re trying to hire a lot of people and scale an organization.”
Keep in mind, however, that if you’re running a nonprofit, you may be prohibited from making political statements. An article from Nolo covers some of the limits that 501(c)(3) nonprofits will face with political campaigning. Be sure to check your bylaws and to check with the Federal Government before your nonprofit makes any statement about politics, as you may risk losing your federal approval. However, if you’re running a small business, it may be worth supporting some specific political topics. The general public these days wants to know more about who they are buying from, and they like to support people with similar beliefs to their own. Yes, you risk possibly alienating customers with the opposing views, but you also take a gamble, which could pay off with many new customers who are fervent supporters of you and your business.
If you’re considering getting your business involved in politics in any way, whether you’re posting signs in your business’s window or you’re considering a donation, make sure to look at both sides of how it could play out. There have been some very famous recent cases where a business’s political views have really hurt the company, so you’ll want to take every precaution and research every possible outcome before you stake your organization’s name on any political topic. However, once you do and once you find the right fit, you may be surprised how many new customers come out to show their support.
This article was written by Deborah Flomberg for Small Business Pulse