‘Tis the season to be...charitable.
As 2015 draws to an end and the holidays are upon us, there is a warm and renewed focus on giving back and paying it forward. But what if being charitable also added to your bottom line? Good news — it does! Giving back doesn’t just make you feel great, it’s also good for business.
Many small businesses take the opportunity to get involved in local charities as a way to give back to the community. After all, your company’s recipe for success includes more than one ingredient of hard work; you must also mix in a strong presence in your community.
In this article we’ll take a look at why being charitable is good for business and, perhaps more importantly, how to do it authentically.
Charity Creates a Positive Brand Image
Being charitable creates a positive image for your brand. People want to see your business giving back and doing good in the community. As a matter of fact, 85% of consumers are more likely to purchase your product if it’s associated with a charity. When consumers become emotionally invested in a company, they will appreciate and support your socially conscious efforts. Few attributes can grow brand preference and affinity, in a consumer’s mind, more than a strong commitment to social and environmental issues.
It Develops Trust
Being charitable creates trust, goodwill, and loyalty with your customer base and ultimately attracts new ones. Businesses with above and beyond customer relationships are able to grow their company without gimmicks, fee cuts, or special treatment. You’ll have to be good at what you do, but having a truly successful business is based on one simple concept: trust.
With brand loyalty at an all time low, having consumer trust is extremely valuable and being a part of a charitable organization is a great way to develop trust with your customers. Building trust takes time and a lot of hard work, and that’s why it’s also advisable to continue your charitable giving throughout the year, not just during the holidays.
Trust is something that will make an incredible difference when it comes to establishing, building, and maintaining strong customer relationships. And the best part is, when you have customers that trust you, they’ll become ambassadors for your brand. When people have a positive image of a company, word-of-mouth spreads favorable messages to those around them. And, with an endless stream of knowledge at our fingertips, consumers today are more educated than ever before. That, and they’re more critical about company motives. In fact, 92% of consumers say they trust word-of-mouth over all other forms of advertising.
To harness the power of those word-of-mouth interactions, a new form of marketing has emerged. Enter cause marketing — a type of marketing that involves cooperation between a for-profit business and a non-profit entity, meant to drive mutual growth or benefit. In a 2015 study, 9-in-10 consumers said they expect companies to do more than make a profit, but also operate responsibly to address social and environmental issues.
Think about companies like TOMS Shoes, that help “a person in need” with every purchase. Since its inception, TOMS has given away more than 10 million pairs of shoes and more recently have helped restore sight to more than 200,000 people with prescription glasses or medical treatments. Once a small startup working out of a family barn, the company is now valued at nearly $625 million.
Charity Can Improve Morale and Attract Talent
Employees want to work for businesses that are doing good and giving back. With repetition of daily tasks, employees often get burnt out and as a result, morale lowers, but coordinating a volunteering event at a non-profit can be a new, and welcome, change to their workday. Top that off with a paid day outside and you’re sure to find employees a little more energized.
In addition to this, getting employees out of the office and working together toward a charitable mission allows them to strengthen their relationships, have a stronger team spirit, and develop a greater feeling of oneness. Because of this, the overall productivity of your team (volunteering and in the office) increases.
And what if you knew that your employees prefered to work for a company that offers volunteer opportunities? By providing these programs to your staff, you’ll have a better likelihood of attracting the type of candidates you want working for you. Getting your business involved within the community is a great way to boost spirits and keep your employees happy. Not only does it give everyone the opportunity to bond outside of the office, but it also allows them to feel like they are giving back to the same community that supports the business.
How to Be Authentic
Simply put, being authentic means staying true to your brand — who you are, what you do and who you serve. In an environment in which we could all use more human elements, it creates value and benefits for your customers as well as improves your business.
So, how can you be authentic with your charitable giving? Be real. Sounds simple enough, right? It’s amazing how many companies get this wrong. Share your values and your mission, and get back to basics. Who are you? What drives your business? The best way to be perceived as authentic is to actually BE authentic. So build your charity around a purpose for your business beyond making a dollar. Get back to the foundation and apply your core values, passions, goals, and beliefs as the heart of how you approach every aspect of your business.
Events and Sponsorships
When looking to be authentic in your charitable deeds, a great way to do so is to sponsor an event. Sponsoring an event or program, and allowing your team to partake in volunteering, are great ways to, not only raise awareness about a cause dear to your business, but also promote your business as a partner.
This is ultimately a marketing and branding opportunity. Being part of something bigger than your brand creates goodwill and a positive image in the community, and perhaps best of all, increases your exposure to other audiences you might have otherwise never had the opportunity to be in front of.
It’s important, however, to find a charity that aligns with your company values. To be credible, you must believe in the true meaning of charity, authentic giving, and helping those who need it most by supporting causes that you’re passionate about. By doing so, you’ll build strong relationships with charity partners and find ways to go beyond monetary donations to support their cause.
Make Sure It Makes Sense
Every year, Disney grants nearly 7,000 wishes through the Make-A-Wish foundation. That’s more than 88,000 dream-come-trues since 1981. In the 33 years since the foundation’s commitment to granting wishes to kids with life-threatening medical conditions, the Disney brand has truly helped strengthen the foundation, and by doing so, strengthened the families and communities affected by these severe illnesses.
“Disney has been with Make-A-Wish since the beginning. Their support of our mission and their deep affection for our wish kids has never wavered and continues to grow,” said president and CEO of Make-A-Wish America, David Williams. “As Disney does for all of us, they capture our wish kids’ imaginations, giving them hope as they return their focus to the future. We are grateful to have such a dedicated and faithful friend.”
Such relationships are not only mutually beneficial, they’re authentic. It makes sense for Disney to donate to a cause that grants sick children one special wish. Disney is, after all, the happiest place on earth — where else can a little girl fighting Leukemia get to feel like a princess? Or a boy struggling with cerebral palsy get to meet the awe-inspiring Mickey Mouse?
This article provided a glimpse at how being charitable is good for business. Charitable giving isn’t just a tax write-off, it’s a way for your company to boost PR and gain loyalty among customers. While you can simply donate time and money to a cause, you don’t want to be charitable simply to get something in return. By doing so you’ll only invite disappointment from everybody involved.
Being charitable can be prosperous for your business, but doing it authentically is key. You’ll get a lot more in return when you offer donations and volunteer-time without assuming you’ll be making a profit. When you keep in mind that charity is ultimately about helping others, you’ll reap the benefits of generous giving.
We all live in the same world, and helping others only makes it a better place for everyone.