During this climate of economic uncertainty, on the forefront of most working professionals, business leaders and entrepreneurs is financial stability and profit. Because of this, a crucial aspect of business success can easily be overlooked: philanthropy. It is no mere accident that many of the greatest business leaders were revered as much for their business sense as their philanthropic endeavors. The Carnegie and Rockefeller names are as much associated with successful business achievements as they are philanthropic milestones.
Corporate philanthropy has the power to increase the esteem and reputation of your business in the eyes of the public, instantly improving your community profile and brand. A recent Cone Corporate Citizenship Study showed that 86% of Americans are apt to switch to another brand from competitors of equal price & quality if that brand shows a partnership or association with a social cause. Philanthropic endeavors increase prosperity in the community, benefiting your company and key stakeholders including employees, shareholders, suppliers, and your customers. According to a Deloitte 2008 Executive Impact Survey, 84% of executives at large companies see direct benefits to their bottom line as a result of corporate philanthropy and 64% of executives acknowledge tangible positive contribution to their bottom line as a result of corporate citizenship.
In order to ensure that your organization builds a culture of philanthropy and creates social IMPACT, consider these 10 tips:
1. Implement a program in which a school or non-profit service group distributes promotional materials for your business, receiving a percentage of the sales as a result. Think about the Girl Scout Cookies model. This type of program enables a community organization to be a part of your marketing strategy while creating potential added revenue for them & the social sector.
2. Be sure that the “good works” of your organization have a strong, interactive & current web presence. It’s rare for a business now to not have a company website to which people can refer to for more information about your work. However, many corporate websites do not effectively communicate the philanthropic actions & impact of the business. According to a 2010 Penn Schoen Berland/Marsteller & Landor Survey, more than 80% of consumers & employees don’t see “Social Responsibility” initiatives on corporate websites. (If you haven’t reserved a free online Social Impact Profile™ for your business, its not too late to hop on AltruHelp.com and complete a request via the “Corporations” Button). Using social media like Facebook, Twitter, and blogging will also help you connect with a wider group of people but its important to have a dedicated space online to amplify targeted awareness of your company’s philanthropy & community involvement.
3. Ask your employees what they care about! Your employees are the lifeblood of your organization and your greatest brand ambassadors. You can survey them, talk to them, or have them build Social Impact Profiles. Once you have an understanding of what your employees care about, build a philanthropic program or charity event around around an organization they are passionate about. Your employees will become the marketing champions for your program! Don’t forget to keep hiring civic-minded talent, especially management & leadership staff, as they will nurture & build a culture of altruism and foster a true sense of community for your organization.
4. Collaborate with a well-respected community group to host a workshop or conference to discuss either global, national or local issues and solutions.This workshop can be an annual event, creating an ongoing sense of partnership & presence in the community.
5. Offer your office space to the non-profit community to hold several fundraisers per year at your place of business.
6. Consider entering into a partnership with a national nonprofit that aligns with your organization’s interests. Many companies allocate a certain amount of their budget towards purchasing needed supplies for a nonprofit partner and in return they get their company logo printed on nonprofit marketing materials, such as t-shirts.
7. Diversify your philanthropic endeavors to create integrated impact campaigns with the community. For example, rather than focusing on 1-3 causes that you think are popular for charitable donations and/or volunteering, survey ALL your stakeholders or use an online system like AltruHelp to see what your customers and other shareholders care about. If stakeholders like your customers know you are promoting the causes they care about, they will become “cause amplifiers” just like you employees, and they will champion your philanthropic initiatives.
8. Ensure that your business is transparent by becoming fully versed in necessary IRS Forms. Many local accounting firms & law practices will offer classes if you need some guidance.
9. Keep track of all your development activity and social responsibility efforts. There are several software solutions that will enable you to monitor and report all of this activity efficiently. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about these solutions.
10. Offer specific package deals, discounts, or rewards of your products/services to local volunteer organizations. It’s important that your key business products & services are associated with giving back.
As management expert and author Ken Blanchard once said, “I absolutely believe in the power of giving back. My own experience about all the blessings I’ve had in my life is that the more I give away, the more that comes back. That is the way life works, and that is the way energy works.” Let us know what other business strategies your company is using to increase social impact!