Historically, businesses have made lump-sum donations at the end of the tax year or organised a bake sale. Then if they’ve got an astute team member, they will have done a few social posts about their donation, and that’s about it. Philanthropy for the sake of it is great and we encourage it at Views For Change. There is, however, a way to be strategic about your corporate giving and let it help you grow your business.
We’re going to explore some of the steps you need to take to make giving back your advantage.
Listen to your audience
In a study conducted by Foresters involving a survey of 1,100 people from all over the UK, 89% said that businesses should contribute to charities and support their local communities. Additionally, 59% of the people in the survey stated that companies that made corporate donations to charity were most likely to benefit from increased profits. Furthermore, Studies show that 70% of millennials go for a brand that supports charity.
The stats are overwhelming, but businesses continue to ignore what their audiences are saying (basically – “donate to charity and we’re more likely to support you”) and corporate giving has actually fallen. This could be to do with regulations on donation reporting ceasing in 2013; but it’s still concerning, given the benefits of donating, when done right, include:
Increased brand loyalty
Increased purchasing intent
Increased brand engagement intent
B Corp certification points
Businesses need to listen to their audience. From our calculations, most generations are demanding more from businesses. This is especially the case for Gen Z and Millennials, so if you service these audiences – read on.
Giving back to an appropriate cause
In my own experience in previous jobs, business owners have picked charities they cared about to support but had no correlation to their audience or stakeholders. If you’re a founder or business owner that LOVES cats, but your business is in EdTech; Battersea Cats & Dogs Home is not the best choice for your business to support (by all means make personal donations!)
A cause marketing campaign (a term used for campaigns where businesses support non-profits or charities) should reflect the values of your company and your customers.
The earlier point about ‘listening to your audience’ comes into play here. If you want to make an impact on your audience and revel in the benefits listed above with your campaign, then you need to pick a cause that THEY care about; and it’s not always as obvious as it seems.
A great, real-life example was a children’s pram accessories manufacturer who sold their products to the ‘Mum’ market. They noticed in their community group that a lot of the women had been impacted by miscarriages, or knew someone who had. Whilst their products supported Mum’s with babies, they chose a charity that supported women who had recently suffered from miscarriages.
If you’re not sure where to start, try identifying which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals your business mission aligns with. From there, you can search for charities and non-profits with similar goals.
Another approach could be asking your audience. Identify some charities that you think might fit the bill with your audience and let them decide!
However you decide on your chosen charity, make sure they:
Have a genuine & tangible impact
Align with your business mission or your audience’s interests
Are happy to accept donations from you
Note: it is also very important to verify your chosen cause and check they are legitimate & having a real impact on their work.
Grow Your Business With Innovative Donation Mechanisms
I’ll avoid plugging our own platform too much, but this section is key to ensuring your donations get to work in growing your business.
As mentioned above, the way we have previously made donations is out of date and doesn’t support the growth of your business effectively. Businesses need to get innovative with their donation mechanisms.
The working premise and mission at Views For Change are that donations can (and should!) be built into every business interaction, transaction, and action.
Our platform enables advertising brands and agencies to reward user engagements with a donation to their chosen charity. This is one implementation of a donation mechanism that:
Involves the audience (rewards their activity)
Communicates the impact at the first impression (each user then knows this brand cares)
Is manageable (more engagements = more donations)
But there are many others (hold onto your hats for our roadmap!).
If you can find ways to embed and incorporate donations into your business activities, as rewards or otherwise, then this will:
Reach a MUCH wider audience than a one-off donation
Encourage business growth as consumers engage with your brand more
Retain customers & encourage brand loyalty
Report Your Impact
With the rising demands of B Corp and effective CSR & ESG reporting, it is important to recognise how effective impact reporting can support your business’ growth efforts.
Annual Impact reports are now becoming mainstream, with many being utilised as a content marketing tool. These are a great way to bring a sharp focus on your business’ impact throughout the year.
We believe in more regular reporting – in fact, where possible, live reporting. This is another way to communicate your impact with potential customers and embed it into your business communications – further enhancing the benefits of donations above. It shows commitment and transparency, which are fundamental to donations growing your business.
To round up, to create a donations strategy that supports the growth of your business you need to:
Listen to, and communicate with, your audience
Pick an appropriate cause
Find innovative ways to embed donations into your business activities
Showcase real impact with effective reporting
I hope that this article has given you some actionable steps to begin building donations into your business plan and allowing giving back to support your business’ growth.
And if you’re in Bristol on 30th November, The Good Business Club and Views For Change are hosting a RECONNECT event, where we will discuss all things good business. I look forward to discussing charitable donations with the attendees.