As a cannabis retailer, you’re looking for ways to establish brand awareness and set yourself apart from competitors. At the same time, you want to do your part to help break the lingering stigma surrounding cannabis, as well as foster goodwill and genuine relationships within your local community
Of course, giving back to the community should be more than just a tactic used for increasing the bottom line. But, when done sincerely, outreach can reap positive rewards for your business, including a loyal customer base, the attraction of high-quality talent to your team and eased relationships with local authorities and regulators.
To help you spark some ideas, we’ve put together a list of five local outreach ideas you can implement immediately to establish yourself as a good corporate citizen and help further destigmatize cannabis.
1. Start a Food Drive
Hunger and food insecurity are real problems facing more Americans than many realize. Collecting food donations to help those in your local community is a long-standing and highly effective way to give back. Many organizations launch food drives around the holiday season, but hunger is felt year-round, and there’s never a bad time to collect food to donate to shelters and other distribution points.
You can incentivize your customers to donate by offering prizes or discounts for those who give the most food.
2. Partner with the Red Cross
Like food, blood is something that is always in high demand. You can contact your local Red Cross office to coordinate an on-site blood drive at your cannabis retail location. Having the big Red Cross blood bus in your parking lot will definitely call attention to your store, and demonstrating that cannabis consumers’ blood is certified as healthy by the Red Cross will help dispel notions to the contrary.
3. Participate in Community Beautification Projects
One of the simplest ways to make a big impact is to help keep your neighborhood clean. Many cities and counties have adoption programs, like Adopt-A-Street and Adopt-A-Stream, which allow organizations to take responsibility for keeping one particular area free from harmful litter and debris. You can also help out by planting trees, establishing a community garden or painting a mural. Check for programs in your local community as well as guidelines on what you can do.
HWY 420, a cannabis retailer in Bremerton, WA, really set themselves apart from the competition by actually closing their retail locations on April 20 to participate in a community service day. Roughly 45 employees volunteered their time on the busiest cannabis retail day of the year to help clean
4. Set Up a Customer-Pick Donation Program
Of course, donating a percentage of your sales to charity is a great way to give back. But an even better way to get your customers engaged with your efforts is to give them a choice of which charity they’d like a percentage of their purchase to go toward.
For example, Denver dispensary Kaya Cannabis offers a “community giving” program that gives their customers a choice between four local non-profits that they’d like their purchase to help support. Four baskets line the dispensary’s checkout counter, and every customer receives an extra copy of their sales receipt. The customer then chooses which cause they’d like to support and drops the extra receipt in the corresponding basket. At the end of each month, the receipts from each basket are totaled up and a percentage of the total sales is given to each cause.
Kaya employees rotate the baskets every two months or so to spread the love between roughly 30 Denver-area non-profits and charitable organizations.
5. Uncover Your Community Needs and Get involved
While the preceding four outreach ideas are extremely helpful and relevant no matter where in the country you’re located, you’ll make the biggest impact by getting directly involved in the dialogue in your community and uncovering its biggest needs.
Maybe your area has a high population of homeless veterans or minority groups that have been impacted by the war on drugs, for instance. In other words, you want to find out the best ways to have the biggest impact on the problems facing the people you live, work and play beside.
A great way to start is by attending your local city council meetings and contacting political representatives and neighborhood groups to get ideas for targeted, specific outreach opportunities.
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