It’s (almost) time to start focusing on 2012 corporate cause programs. As you reflect on how your company gave back this year and assess impact across both social and business goals, here’s some food for thought to help you improve upon 2011’s foundation.
Earlier this year, this blog discussed a new trend of generosity (first recognized by trendwatching.com) taking the cause marketing world by storm. In the spirit of the season, Forbes is refocusing our attention on generosity as a vital brand factor going into 2012. In the wake of one of the worst years for humanitarian disasters, economic strife and backlash towards the powers that be (Occupy Wall Street, Arab Spring etc.), consumers and employees have high expectations for corporate responsibility.
According to Scott Davis, Forbes contributor and Chief Growth Officer at Prophet, there are three core principles to keep in mind to meet those expectations:
- Be authentic (i.e. be true to your brand and core to the business)
- Be relevant (i.e. resonate with consumers and employees)
- Be effective (i.e. drive real and tangible impact)
Here are some of Scott’s favorite examples of corporate generosity in 2011. Do they sound familiar? How does your company approach generosity?
‘One for One’ Model
Toms Shoes, Warby, Roma Boots’ all donate one good for every good purchased by a consumer. From shoes to eyeglasses, social entrepreneurs (and big brands) are jumping on the ‘one-for-one’ bandwagon. It’s easy to see why: there’s a sustainable business model that is infused with a social mission and the concept is easy to communicate to consumers who not only feel good about giving back, but also get a trendy item for themselves.
Charity Starts at Home
Local is a big motivating factor for many companies, as they want to support causes that impact the communities in which their employees and consumers live and work. A prime example is the wooden nickel program at (some) Whole Foods (first used by Wild Oats Markets, a Whole Foods acquisition). Whenever a customer reuses their own shopping bag, the store lets that customer allocate 5 cents to any of three local charities. Other examples abound in the corporate volunteer space, goods-in-kind drives and similar programs rooted in the community.
Meeting Basic Needs
This is a powerful model because it forces companies to think about the best impact they can make instead of prioritizing how the cause will play in media coverage and annual reports. And when done right and communicated in a smart way, these programs truly touch people’s emotional core and result in a bigger, and well-deserved brand halo. An example top of mind after the many natural disasters around the US this summer and fall is Tide’s Loads of Hope campaign. Via a mobile Laundromat, the program helps those affected by disasters through the comfort of clean clothes – a little thing that can make a big difference for someone who has lost everything.
You can read the full article on Forbes here.
It’s that time of year when giving back is top of mind. In fact, giving money to charity in December has become a national pastime. Network for Good sees online giving levels increase each day of the month until a peak of activity on December 31, just before the tax year ends. Close to 10% of annual donation volume through Network for Good comes in on the last two days of the year. This cycle is consistent year to year and nonprofits rely on yearend fundraising for a large portion of their annual income.
There are many benefits to making giving an annual component of your financial planning, but none of them speak to the emotional rewards that come from doing good. You may have heard of the ‘Helper’s High’, which is an activated psychological state induced by charitable activity. In other words, giving to charity incites a feeling of euphoria and happiness in the brain. Who doesn’t want to feel that all year long? (If you want to learn more, my colleague Katya Andresen wrote a fabulous blog series on the Science of Giving. And shameless plug: you can do all your giving through Network for Good's convenient and secure portal http://www1.networkforgood.org/donate/.)
This holiday season, there are two ways you can feed the ‘Helper’s High’ all through 2012:
1. Make your yearend gift a monthly recurring donation. That way you can get a little boost of euphoria each month when you receive your donation confirmation. (It’s also a considerate way to give nonprofits dependable cash flow.)
2. Sign up to lend your time and talents to a good cause next year as a skilled volunteer. You’ll feel good anticipating your project and rewarded every time you spend an hour helping solve a problem for a worthy and appreciative nonprofit. Catchafire, a pro bono platform for professionals, has a wonderful way you can amplify your volunteerism even before you start a project. See below for details.
Catchafire has just launched its 2012 Holiday Campaign with the goal to encourage more people to give the gift of time and talent. Everyone who registers as a volunteer on Catchafire by the end of January, will have the opportunity to nominate a favorite nonprofit or social enterprise to receive a $2,012.00 donation towards a Catchafire membership. The membership gives nonprofits access to Catchafire projects and customized volunteer management tools and advice.
Register here to nominate.
Catchafire’s mission is to improve the quality of the volunteer experience by providing pro bono opportunities for skilled professionals. Catchafire’s vision is to make it easy for every professional to use their skills for good, and to make it easy for every nonprofit and social enterprise to access and effectively use pro bono as a way to build capacity within their organization.
Spread the word!
Suggested Status Update
Tis the season…Nominate a nonprofit or #socent to win $2,012 towards Catchafire projects! Register to nominate - http://bit.ly/urMOjP
Photo Credit: nickstanger
As the state of the economy continues to make headlines, Network for Good sees mixed nonprofit attitudes about the 2011 fundraising season. In these uncertain times, nonprofits face unique challenges when appealing to donors who are themselves experiencing financial strain.
An informal poll of a subset of Network for Good nonprofit customers reveals that, while 40% of organizations are feeling optimistic about how much they will raise this year, an equal 40% are unsure as to what this fundraising season will bring,. The remaining 19% are feeling pessimistic.
The one glimmer of hope for fundraising, even in a down economy, is online giving. Network for Good remains cautiously optimistic given that growth in online donations through its giving system has been strong in 2011. Overall, donations are up 14% for the period of January through November versus the same period in 2010.
According to Network for Good's CSO Katya Andresen, “It’s tough out there for nonprofits this year. But they can still get strong fundraising results online. Just as people are doing more shopping online, they are likely to do more giving online.”
Another reason to remain positive despite the dreary economic outlook is that consumers want to spend on charitable donations. New research from Leo Burnett demonstrates that consumers are cutting back on some things (from energy drinks to music purchases to salon hair treatments), but they want to be spending on charity - and consider it an emotional need. Network for Good sees that trend playing out online where, not only are more individuals making donations, but they are making slightly larger gifts. Donors supporting Network for Good nonprofit customers are spending an average of 6% more on their donations in 2010. The average gift size was $107 for the period January through November 2011.
In November, donations were up 16% across the Network for Good platform versus the same month in 2010. This growth is inline with recent ecommerce figures showing that shopping has grown 15% over last year. And giving season is just getting started. Online giving levels will increase each day until a peak of activity on December 31, just before the tax year ends. Network for Good sees close to 10% of annual donation volume come in on the last two days of the year. In fact, giving concentrates between 12:00 pm and 7:00 pm in the evening on December 31.
Donors looking for an easy and convenient way to support their favorite causes at year’s end can make a gift to one or more nonprofits through Network for Good’s giving portal www.networkforgood.org or through several Network for Good partner websites such as The Capital one No Hassle Giving Site (www.capitalone.com/give) Causes on Facebook (www.causes.com), Crowdrise (www.crowdrise.com), Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org) or GuideStar (www.guidestar.org).
Here’s a sneak peak of a media release going out this afternoon about the trend of giving the gift of charity this holiday season. If your company has not finalized its yearend reward program, don’t panic! It’s not too late to spread joy among your employees or customers with charity gift cards from Network for Good. Learn more at www.networkforgood.org/customgoodcard
Amid a down economy, many companies are choosing to replace conventional gifting with the gift of charity at year’s end. Network for Good is seeing strong corporate sales of The Good Card® - a gift card for charity. Further, companies are purchasing Good Cards at higher dollar values than last year: the average gift card value is up 13% at just under $70.
“More companies are choosing to reward employees, vendors and clients with a gift of charity this year,” says Network for Good CEO Bill Strathmann. “Our charity gift card product is a meaningful way to say thank you, especially in a down economy, because it allows recipients to feel generous and spread the joy of the season.”
Good Card recipients redeem the cards for a wide range of charities – anything from local PTAs, libraries, and animal shelters to large nonprofits like the American Red Cross and The Nature Conservancy. Network for Good sees very little overlap of charities selected by Good Card recipients. When presented with a choice in giving, individuals truly have unique interests and passions.
A gift card for charity is an ideal reward for employees or thank you gift for clients, customers and vendors that links their passion for a cause to a company’s brand. A new study by researchers from Harvard Business School, the University of British Columbia and the University of Liege recently highlighted in the Washington Post confirms that a bonus employees get to spend on others is more motivating than a bonus they get to spend on themselves. A Good Card recipient can redeem their gift card as a donation to any of more than a million nonprofits, an easy way for employees to share a their personal rewards with others.
“Cisco loves to reward employees with The Good Card®. Network for Good makes it so easy to design a custom program and their choice in charity means that each employee can give to an organization that matters to them,” remarks a Cisco Systems, Inc. Program Manager.
Good Card purchases, including fees, are tax-deductible to the company and are a creative way to spend funds ear-marked for philanthropy. In addition, because Good Card purchases are charitable donations, they do not fall under the IRS gift limit or policies around corporate gifts with cash value. Network for Good’s charity gift card program is turn-key, customizable and easy to implement - even at the last minute. The program is recommended for any company looking to put a special spin on their gift-giving this year.
Our friends at YourCause put together this insightful infographic on how companies can best engage their employees and strengthen employment brand loyalty. YourCause is a provider of global employee engagement solutions. You can learn more about YourCause’s CSRConnect platform and get additional CSRinsights here.
Shameless plug alert: Network for Good can help you satisfy the 75% of employees who want to participate in scheduled giving campaigns and reward the 77% who want to participate in dollars-for-doers volunteer programs (think gift cards for charity!). Ask us how.
Social problems are sector agnostic, so we need to collaborate to truly affect dramatic improvement on a social problem.
Last Friday, I had the pleasure of participating in the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business Net Impact Day, a professional development opportunity for MBA students to explore careers in the social sector. Before my presentation, I sat in on a panel discussion on cross sector collaboration. Below are a few pearls of wisdom from the panelists to help make your partnerships more thoughtful and effective.
Amy Celep, President & CEO of Community Wealth Ventures
- Ask yourself this question: “cross sector collaboration to what end?” Hopefully your answer is “for transformational social change.”
- 3 Keys to success:
- Clarity of focus: create a common agenda and purpose with a clear goal to define success [Example: coalition rallying around UN goal to end malaria deaths in Africa by 2015]
- Shared ownership: put collaboration above any on person’s leadership so the initiative outlasts any leadership changes [Example: Denver's Road Home, a 10-year homelessness campaign that evolves beyond whoever fills the Mayor’s chair http://www.denversroadhome.org/]
- Centrality of communications: constant communication is critical to keep everyone on the same path
Kate Hougen, Marketing Director for The Nature Conservancy in the DC area
- Support from senior leadership is a key ingredient to partnership success
- Let people experiment and interpret the partnership goal in their own way. Pilot projects create models that can be exported.
Michael Robbins, Senior Advisor for Nonprofit Partnerships at the US Department of Education
Elements of high quality partnerships:
- Capacity: dedicate people to the partnership (don’t make it an after-hours volunteer position)
- Data exchange: make sure all partnership members are sharing data back and forth and measuring the right outcomes
- Multi-level collaboration: Don’t only collaborate across sectors, but work with other organizations within your sector to share best practices
William Pearce, Director of Investment Funds at OPIC
- It’s often a challenge to balance business and policy objectives, but make sure your partnership has mutually-agreed upon goals
- Learn how to frame the opportunity so people get it and want to be involved.
- Be proactive about recruiting partners and make sure they understand how to participate and what they will gain.
- Have a win-win attitude and commitment to get something done.
93% of consumers are prepared to boycott a company for irresponsibility and inauthentic cause marketing campaigns. – Cone, Inc. & Echo Research
A recent Mashable post “3 Ways to Keep Cause Marketing Authentic” showcases a cause partnership between Luna Bar and the Breast Cancer Fund through the Pure Prevention campaign and highlights three ways to keep a cause initiative authentic. This is a must read for all cause marketers, but some highlights are included below.
1. Check your alignment: ensure that a product is 100% in line with a non-profit or charity’s philosophy
According to Mitch Baranowski, co-founder of B Corp-certified marketing company BBMG, “The additional obligation for cause marketing is that you have to establish calls to action and measures of success. This can’t be about generating buzz and brand reputation, it’s about advancing the issue or battle at hand.”
2. Be upfront about the terms of your partnership: Communicate about this specific details so consumers understand the nature of the partnership and why they should participate to help support the issue.
According to Brooke Golden, director of Luna Brand Team at Luna Bar, cause marketing is a lot like matchmaking. You have to align a company’s goals with a charity’s core competency AND clearly outline exactly what the relationship is.
3. Don’t be a one-trick pony: repeatedly engage with the cause in varying ways.
Says Golden, “We provide different [levels of] engagement for people, from buying a bar and learning about the cause … to running their own LunaFest and giving back to their community.”
Recently, this blog referenced research by Leo Burnett that demonstrated how consumers are eager to continue giving to charities, even though economic times are tough. The American Red Cross released survey results that reinforce that trend. The American Red Cross survey found that 7 in 10 Americans plan to give more, or about the same, to charity this holiday season – up 10% from last year.
"Despite the difficult economy Americans want to give to help others in need," said Red Cross President and CEO Gail J. McGovern quoted in the Huffington Post. "With so many people out of work, they want to give something that means something."
Below is an infographic that illustrates the survey results.
What does this mean for your company? Your consumers and employees want to support good causes and your company has the ability to help them make a difference – and even amplify their impact through matching grants, corporate communications attention and other resources.
The holidays are an ideal time to collaborate with your consumers and employees on cause initiatives. Charity is top of mind for all with the looming tax deadline, not to mention all the messages about generosity and cheer that abound during the season.
If you don’t have a cause campaign in mind, here are a few ideas:
- Thank individuals who participated in a cause marketing initiative, giving campaign or volunteer program during 2011. You can acknowledge their past support, including your company’s collective impact and invite them to give again.
- Consider rewarding customers, clients or employees by letting them direct where your corporate philanthropic dollars get spent. With Network for Good’s Good Card® - a gift card for charity - your audience can choose their favorite charities to support, but your company gets the tax credit.
- Consider hosting an end of the year giving campaign or challenge with matching funds. This is a great way to tap into the spirit of the season and amplify your audience’s generosity.
"Now there's so much potential with social media, goodwill [cause marketing] campaigns have picked up even more." - Elizabeth Ming, spokesperson at Proctor & Gamble
ClickZ profiles cause marketing campaigns with holiday themes that are leveraging social media to make a splash. In the article “A Season of Cause Marketing on Facebook, Twitter,” the marketing site demonstrates how social media can be an “accelerator” for cause campaigns.
“Social media is enabling cause marketing to be about the cause, not just the marketing." - Paul Smailes, senior brand manager for Dos Equis
Social media makes it easier for brands to make the cause campaign about engagement and awareness for the cause, not just sales (although those are important). In an age when consumers want more social responsibility from brands and seek out ways to participate in meaningful cause campaigns, it’s only right that these initiatives elevate the cause component of cause marketing. Brands will win more loyalty, goodwill, viral spread…and ultimately sales when the campaigns are done right.
Here is a sampling of campaigns on social media:
- P&G's Pepto-Bismol brand Pepto pledged to donate up to 2.1 million meals for every Facebook like and Twitter re-tweet.
- Dos Equis is donating all proceeds from an eBay auction to The Wombat Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to saving the northern hairy-nosed wombat species from extinction. The good up for auction was created in part by suggestions on the brand’s Facebook page.
- Coke is teaming with the World Wildlife Fund to save the polar bears through its Arctic Home campaign (online donations powered by Network for Good). The campaign is promoted on social media (Twitter, YouTube, Facebook) and mobile channels
- Kohl's is running a holidays contest on Facebook, encouraging consumers to submit stories and pictures about why they enjoy giving gifts. Winning stories will be rewarded with a donation to charity.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a day we pause to celebrate family and give thanks for the blessings in our lives. I like to think of Thanksgiving as a chance to disconnect from the craziness of the everyday and reflect on the things that matter most. What a delight to spend the day laughing and cooking with my mom and sister and relish in the harvest of my dad’s vegetable garden.
But not everyone enjoys the luxury of such a day (and I don’t mean shoppers foregoing holiday dinner to wait in line for Black Friday sales!). One in six Americans goes hungry, many of them children and elderly. So this week, let’s applaud the important work of nonprofits like Feeding America, Share Our Strength and Meals on Wheels, which have created a network of local organizations providing meals and support for our fellow Americans who have fallen on hard circumstances. They are the heroes of Thanksgiving.
In the spirit of the season, I’d like to draw your attention to an innovative partnership for hunger relief. AARP and AARP Foundation have teamed with NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon, team owner Rick Hendrick, Feeding America and other partners for the “Drive to End Hunger” initiative that raises awareness for hunger in America.
Here’s the big deal: AARP is sponsoring the car – and this is the first time in NASCAR’s history that a sponsorship is cause-based and not commercial. Think about all those laps in all those races all reinforcing the Drive to End Hunger with a loyal and enthusiastic fan base, many of whom live in the very communities the campaign seeks to help.
Meaningful and authentic cause marketing has truly arrived and that’s something to be grateful for.
As part of Network for Good's 10th anniversary celebration, we want to share how online donors have evolved over the past decade. More people than ever are giving with technology - and key signs that online donations have gone mainstream are the prevalence of disaster relief gifts and the dropping average donations. A lot has happened since 2001. Please consider sharing this image with your networks - easy social media links are on this blog post. Let’s celebrate our collective progress!
A special shout out to Katya Andresen, Network for Good's Chief Strategy Officer, for her creative vision for this infographic.
Tomorrow (Saturday, November 19, 2011) marks the 10th anniversary of Network for Good. To celebrate, we have placed a mosaic of snapshots from partners, nonprofits and friends on our homepage to showcase some of the collective impact we’ve all created over the last decade.
It’s amazing to think about the good AOL, Cisco and Yahoo! put in motion when they came together in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy to support online donations to the American Red Cross. That’s an example of Corporate Responsibility with a capital R. The collaboration evolved into Network for Good, a self-sustainable nonprofit social enterprise that has processed nearly $600 million in donations to more than 60,000 nonprofits.
But this anniversary is really about you. We wouldn’t have made it to this birthday or that scale of impact without partners like you who share our belief that technology can do a world of good. You did good!
Here’s to the next 10 years of unleashing generosity.
“Instead of just making your product incrementally better than the competitor, you need to create impact.”
We are increasingly aware of consumer (and employee) thirst for information from companies about their social responsibility initiatives, presumably so they can make more informed purchasing decisions. Now enter the media consultancy Havas Media with added insights that measure how brands affect wellbeing and quality of life. Havas Media is trying to get at the question of the role of a brand is in this environment of crumbling institutions and economic uncertainty and how consumers respond to brands in challenging times.
In the Meaningful Brands survey—a survey of 50,000 consumers in France, Spain, the U.K., Germany, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, China, Japan, India, and the U.S.— consumers reported that only 20% of the brands they interact with have a positive impact on their lives. Most interestingly, those consumers feel that 70% of brands could disappear entirely without them noticing.
Think about that for a moment: Most consumer brands could be pulled from circulation and people wouldn’t even notice!
How do you know if your brand falls into that category? How do you avoid that fate?
The answer is to create meaningful impact for your customers – help them live better lives. As Umair Haque, the director of the Havas Media Labs, advises, focus on outcomes, not on outputs. And that’s a big shift in thinking, especially in the U.S. – the land of industry, consumption and excess.
“We’re trying to get beyond ‘did this company make a slightly better product’ to the more resonant, meaningful question: ‘Did this brand actually impact your life in a tangible, lasting, and positive way?’"
The reward for focusing on outcomes has big profit potential:
- 51% of consumers will choose responsible products over non responsible ones (up 11% from last year)
- 53% of consumers will pay a 10% premium for a product produced in a responsible way (up 9% from last year)44% of consumers will punish irresponsible companies (up 8% from last year)
Here are a few questions you can start asking yourself about your brands:
- Did this brand make people fitter, wiser, smarter, closer?
- Did it improve personal outcomes?
- Did it improve community outcomes?
- Did it pollute the environment?
You can read more about the Meaningful Brands Study and watch a video of Umair Haque discussing the results at Co.Exist.com.
You can read the survey results on Havas Media’s website.
Many companies struggle to connect with customers during an economic downturn. How do you make your product relevant when people are struggling with unemployment, facing dwindling retirement savings and worrying about how to make ends meet? Is the answer to provide more (perceived) value? Or should you try to speak to people’s sense of being part of the solution? What is the secret sauce to marketing in a recession?
According to Ad Age, the answer is to promote connectivity (in real life and through technology) and meet basic needs with a touch of indulgence.
The ad agency Leo Burnett has been looking at marketing trends in a down economy and studying how consumers reclassify what they really "want" versus "need". The research looks at wants and needs across a spectrum from functional to emotional and what stays on the need side of the equation is very revealing. The matrix below shows current needs (green), wants consumers are eager to convert to needs (orange) and wants consumers have had to cut back on (red).
Good news for all you cause marketers out there: consumers want to be spending on charity (and consider it an emotional need). Think about how much you can strengthen your connection to your customers if you can fulfill that want for them! Help them break that compromise. When you enable your customers to support the causes they care about – causes they may not have the financial means to support right now – you reinforce their passion to make a difference and link it to your brand. Why not make cause your market differentiator?
You can see more about want versus need on Ad Age here.
“Facebook has plans for world domination. Why wouldn’t you use it as a centerpiece for your cause campaign?” – Brian Reich via Twitter
The Cause Marketing Forum recently released a new white paper on cause marketing on Facebook. “Cause Marketing on Facebook: Truths, Tips and Trends from Pioneers” defines Facebook cause marketing campaign types, offers tips for success and profiles several campaigns. The advice from experts and depth of the case studies make this a must read for all cause marketers.
Here are a few highlights:
Types of Campaigns
- Like for Donation By “Liking” a brand or campaign page, the user unlocks a cash or in-kind donation.
- Simple-Action-for-Donation The campaign asks consumers to take a simple action such as posting a picture, a video or a comment on a Facebook page in order to unlock a donation.
- Interactive-Action-for-Donation Cause marketers invest in these custom-designed, Facebook-integrated platforms to engage more consumers by making their campaigns more compelling. App types include: fundraising, fames, branded activities (watch a video, take a survey).
- Voting Campaigns The campaign asks consumers to vote for and/or advocate for causes that they’d like to receive a share of a promised – often substantial -- corporate donation.
Emerging Best Practices
- Keep It Light and Use Multiple Channels to Create Reach
- Relinquish Control to Gain Authenticity and Engage More Fully
- Curate Content to Keep Them Involved
- Tap the Power of Incentives
- Manage Partnerships To Generate Stronger Results – And Minimize Problems
- Test and Measure to Hone Your Strategy
Bottom Line: “Facebook will continue to evolve but the importance of focusing on user experience, engagement and authenticity will continue to reign supreme.”
You can get the full report here.
Tired of the same old corporate holiday gift program? Put a new spin on it this year!
As Annie Leonard so creatively pointed out in her animated short The Story of Stuff, we all have enough branded swag and gift baskets, so why not make a socially responsible statement with your gift program?
Cause marketing is the corporate catchphrase of 2011 and recent research like the Cone 2010 Cause Evolution Study demonstrates how people are hungry for more – if the campaigns are thoughtful and achieve real impact. Furthermore, new research demonstrates that employees are motivated by generosity and the ability to share personal rewards with others (read more in a recent guest post by Katya Andresen, CSO of Network for Good).
Armed with these insights, the holiday gift of choice is clear. Enter The Good Card®: the perfect way for your audience to support the causes closest to their hearts (and link that passion to your brand).
WHAT? The Good Card® - a gift card for charity - a fabulous, easy, one-size-fits-all gift for your customers or employees. You choose the donation amount ... they choose the cause (any of more than 1 million US nonprofits).
- Dell uses Good Cards as ‘dollars for doers’ rewards for employee volunteers
- AOL uses Good Cards to thank advertising clients
- Clinique uses Good Cards as a gift with purchase for Happy Perfume products
WHY? You can handle holiday giving in one program and tap into your customers' or employees' emotional connections to their favorite causes. Plus, you can completely brand the program to your company (ask us how!).
- 89% of consumers want companies to support causes at the holidays. (Cone)
- 73% of employees wish their company would do more to support causes. (Cone)
Good Card purchases are tax-deductible for your company and are a creative way to spend funds ear-marked for charity. In addition, because Good Card purchases are charitable donations, they do not fall under the IRS gift limit or policies around corporate gifts with cash value.
Learn more about corporate Good Card programs at www.NetworkForGood.org/CustomGoodCard
A new report on corporate giving in 2010, the CECP "Giving in Numbers" Corporate Giving Standard (CGS) Survey, shows mixed reactions to the economic climate reflected in philanthropy programs.
While 2010 saw an increase in giving across many companies (50%) from pre-recession levels, many other companies (45%) reduced their charitable contributions. The economic climate has affected how and where companies give. In-kind non-cash gifts appear to be on the rise, as are cash gifts associated with employee engagement programs such as matching gifts, pro bono service and volunteer programs. This trend reflects an attention on differentiated employment branding based on shared value and impact, benefits increasingly sought by younger and social responsibility-minded employees.
Companies appear to be prioritizing the basic needs of their communities, as health, education and economic development contributions accounted for a majority of giving. Further, companies are becoming more focused in their giving, consolidating their donations under one or two cause areas and reclassifying contributions as community investments more than charity. This trend is encouraging for those that advocate a strategic philanthropy approach that aligns with an overall CSR plan.
An interesting trend noted in 2010, likely corresponding to the Haiti earthquake and other notable disasters, is the emergence of disaster giving programs. In 2010, 40 companies added disaster relief matching programs for employees. [Shameless Plug: Network for Good recently released a corporate guide on formulating effective disaster giving campaigns.]
One hundred and eighty-four companies participated in the CGS Survey on 2010 contributions, including 63 of the top 100 companies in the Fortune 500. The sum of contributions across all respondents totaled over $15.5 billion in cash and product giving. Here are some of the key results:
- 50% of companies gave more in 2010 than before the economic downturn in 2007 (45% gave less)
- A majority of companies gave more in 2010 than in 2009, largely driven by disaster relief donations
- Companies gave an average of $628 in donations per employee
- Health (30%), education (25%) and economic development (14%) are the top cause areas for corporate giving
- Non-cash contributions have risen by 39% since 2007 (pharmaceutical in-kind donations are a big part)
- 94% of companies provide matching grant programs (averaging 15% of total cash giving)
- 89% of companies have a formal domestic employee volunteer program (EVP); 52% had international programs
There is a ton of great data in the survey. If you are wondering where your company fits into the mix, I encourage you to read the full report. You can download the report here.
Our friends at YourCause put together this step-by-step infographic on how employee payroll giving works. YourCause is a provider of global employee engagement solutions. You can learn more about YourCause’s CSRConnect platform and get additional CSRinsights here.
Many companies are compelled to help in the days following a natural or humanitarian disaster, but don’t have a disaster plan that can be activated easily. If your company hasn’t thought through a comprehensive disaster giving plan yet, you are not alone. Here is some advice from Capital One on how to get started.
In 2008, Capital One partnered with Network for Good to create the No Hassle Giving Site, a giving portal available to all Capital One credit and debit card customers. Through the site, customers can donate cash, rewards or miles to any of 1.2 million U.S.-based nonprofits. Capital One generously covers all donation processing fees, so 100% of a customer’s donation gets disbursed to the nonprofit of choice.
In the wake of a disaster, Capital One features a handful of trusted nonprofits providing relief. Through customer email communications, website banner ads and retail bank outreach, Capital One invites customers to support relief efforts through the Giving Site, making it convenient for customers to help. Additionally, Capital One often provides matching funds to amplify the impact.
The Capital One Giving Site team formalized an internal disaster response plan after the Haiti earthquake giving campaign. The plan designated responsibilities for team members, outlined disaster response criteria, provided guidelines for website updates and included templates for communications and digital assets. As a result of this pre-planning, Capital One was able to launch its Giving Site Japan campaign within 12 hours of the earthquake triggering the tsunami, long before many companies had even started formulating their plan. The proactive response resulted in about $1 million in donations from Capital One customers and employees for Japan tsunami relief efforts.
Key lessons learned:
1.Be ready to move quickly: Agility requires knowing who the right contacts are within the company to activate the plan and keep up momentum.
2.Communicate the plan: Ensure all internal parties are aware of the communications plan and campaign timing – so that the response is coordinated.
3.Re-evaluate the plan: After each disaster response, bring the disaster team together to discuss what worked, what didn’t, and then update the internal plan accordingly.
This case study was featured in Network for Good’s eGuide for corporations “How to Help: 5 Steps to Effective Corporate Disaster Giving Campaigns”. You can learn more and download the guide at www.networkforgood.org/howtohelp
A debate rages in the CSR community: should companies use their ‘good’ practices and programs in their marketing?
Peter Knight, Director at Context Group, says NO! You can read his article “Letter from America: Let’s Call a Sale a Sale” in the October Ethical Corporation magazine. In it, Knight brings Toms Shoes and others to task for conflating marketing and selling to consumers with straight philanthropic activities.
Tara Greco, Senior Vice President at APCO Worldwide, couldn’t disagree more. She contributed a rebuttal to Knight’s article on the APCO Worldwide blog SharedPurpose entitled “Marketing Your Company’s Commitment to Shared Value.” She notes:
“Companies like Tom’s Shoes recognize that a quality product matters most, and then you have to differentiate yourself from your competitors. These days, all stakeholders—consumers, employees, regulators, investors—expect more from companies. They want to know what your company is doing beyond turning a profit and they want to know why you’re investing in those things.”
I would add the following in support of Greco’s argument: consumers are hungry for more, not less, information on corporate responsibility. According to Cone, Inc., 90% of Americans want companies to tell them how they support causes. I don’t think that means they want more press releases and CSR reports. Consumers, as Greco points out, are less trusting of traditional marketing tactics and now look more holistically at how a company talks about itself. A 360 degree view of a company’s cause efforts has to include a mix of corporate communications and marketing, but more importantly now, the voice of the consumer. Through social media and viral channels, consumers keep the pulse of what they deem to be authentic and meaningful cause programs. If they smell a rat, they are the first to tell you so on your company’s Facebook page, their blog and any other place they have a voice online.
Just think about the backlash that resulted from the KFC and Komen “Buckets for the Cure” cause partnership.
It’s not a question of whether consumers are confused when cause is incorporated into marketing. Rather, it’s a question of whether they believe that cause is authentically and sincerely represented in marketing claims. As with all elements of CSR, honesty and transparency are the best policies.