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Donating gift cards during the holidays

Saying this time of year is busy is an understatement. While it's easy to get wrapped up in the decorations, music, food and everything else that comes with the holiday season, it's also an important time of year to reflect on what we can do for others. This can mean volunteering your time at a food kitchen, helping collect gifts for needing families, or simply making a financial donation. But before you take out that check book it's important to note the growing trend towards gift cards this holiday season. Many nonprofits are recommending donors give gift cards instead of the standard canned foods or teddy bears so that families are then able to go make the purchases for food or gifts themselves. See how these organization are making a difference in peoples lives with gift cards during the holidays:

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Holiday Marketing Tips for the Limited Budget

Holiday marketing season is in full swing! Consumers are planning their holiday shopping, if they have not started already, and retailers are planning their big holiday marketing and promotional push. If you are looking for some innovative ways to stretch the last piece of your 2012 budget check out these 5 ways to execute a holiday marketing campaign with a limited budget.
Host an “Open House”: Not only a great way to get people in to your business, but a great way to celebrate the season and get your prospects, clients, and customers in the holiday spirit.
Work the Holiday Magic for Your Faithful Customers: Find ways to give your loyal customers a little extra around the holidays. Free shipping, secret sales, or a bonus item is a great, low cost way to make your most loyal customer base feel special during the holidays.
Offer Gift Certificates: Not only are gift certificates (whether they be eCerts, gift cards, or certificates that can be used in either channel) a great way to provide flexible gift options to your customers, they are a great way to thank employees as part of a bonus package. Offering holiday themed cards to retailers such as
Boston Market which brings families together for a meal at holiday time, or
Whole Foods Market, to help with holiday shopping expenses are a great way to give back to your business's greatest asset, your workforce.
Get Involved in Community and Charitable Events: Getting in the holiday spirit by giving back to your community is a great way to gain some marketing traction without breaking your budget. You could even sell gift cards at a margin and offer that margin as a charitable donation (i.e. for every gift card sold 10% will be donated to a charity of your business' choosing). This is a great way to boost sales while doing good for a worthwhile cause.
Use Your Website and Social Media to Promote your Holiday Activities: Make sure you communicate your holiday efforts to your audiences. By ensuring clients, customers, partners, and the general public know you are participating in a holiday marketing push will engage your business base, and can rest assured you meet your holiday goals.
For more ideas for low-cost holiday marketing campaigns check out this article from the U.S. Small Business Administration.  

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