“No one cares what you know unless they know that you care.” - Unknown.

One of my earliest memories is something I learned from my father: always give back to your community. I watched him get involved with organizations that he felt compelled to help. For him, helping these groups was not only important and ethical, but it made his community a better place for everyone.

His lesson stuck with me. As I grow in my business and life, I try to emulate these principles and give back. When I opened Fusion Fitness five years ago, the local police department was in need of a second canine unit dog but did not have the funds to purchase it. I decided that this group was the perfect charity for Fusion Fitness because I had entertained thoughts of becoming a police officer before I started my club and because I am an avid dog lover.

To start my fundraising effort, I envisioned a one-mile race called the Main Street Mile through the center of our town. This race, which is held in a major college town, is a fairly large undertaking that requires closing Main Street to traffic and parking, as well as getting buy-in from hundreds of local business owners along the route who may have to open their businesses later than usual because of the traffic restrictions. Although some people may have started with an easier project, such as a 5K race in a park, I wanted to push the envelope, get the word out and do something different.

This year marked our fifth year doing the Main Street Mile. More than 340 runners sprinted/jogged/walked down Main Street, all for the same cause. This year alone, Fusion and Friends raised more than $20,000 for the canine department and recently provided funding to purchase a new dog to replace one that was retired.

This effort has shown me that not only is it important for your business to give back to the community, but it is just as important to get your members involved in these efforts because it gives them a sense of purpose. Remember: Members who are involved stay longer and pay longer.

Getting your members involved when they probably already give to other charities may seem like a challenge initially, but ultimately, if you plan well, are passionate about your charity and get buy-in from your staff to help you promote this, you can be successful. It is a win-win for you and your charity.

Here are three simple things I do to encourage my members to get involved:

  • Create a competition: The top three members who raise the most money for the event get a complimentary membership, training sessions, gym bag, etc. Do not just give one prize. Offering several prizes compels more people to get involved with less hesitation.
  • Offer free T-shirts: When people sign up for your race or charity event, offer them a free T-shirt and ask them to wear the T-shirt at the event. Not only does having a large group of people wearing the same shirts create an impressive visual, but it also gives people a sense of belonging to a cause larger than themselves. They can easily see how many other people thought this event was worthy of their time. And just think of all the free publicity your club will get with your logo gracing the shirt.
  • Matching dollars: Match the members’ race application fees with a percentage of money for them to spend in your pro shop. This will encourage them to routinely purchase smoothies or supplements. You will definitely see an upswing in sales.

No matter what charity you choose to support, make sure it has meaning for you, and you are passionate about it. It is easy to ask people for donations when you feel the cause is worthwhile. People want to get involved. Don’t be afraid to ask.

Nic DeCaire is the owner and founder of Fusion Fitness Center in Newark, DE. He is a graduate of Wilmington College. DeCaire is an IFPA-certified personal trainer with 12 years experience in the Newark area. He started working the front counter at a local fitness center at age 14, and his success and passion for fitness have grown since then. A former competitive bodybuilder and power lifter, DeCaire has won many awards in the sport. He is the chairman of the Main Street Mile, serves on the board of Kids with Confidence and is a member of the Newark Morning Rotary Club. DeCaire can be contacted at 302-738-4580 or nic@fusionfitnesscenter.com.