Consumers are looking more and more to buy from socially responsible and philanthropic businesses. The Cone Cause Evolution study found that “83% of Americans wish more of the products, services and retailers they use would support causes.”
TOMS Shoes is just one example of a business following this model. By giving away a pair of shoes for every pair they’ve sold, TOMS has undoubtedly increased their bottom line, while giving away over 10 million pairs of shoes.
But it’s not only for large businesses with a sophisticated plan for corporate giving. More businesses could (and should) make a greater impact, as well as increase their their bottom line, by integrating philanthropy into their business model. Here’s why and how.
Your business will stand out from competitors
As mentioned above, customers latch on to powerful stories that involve social movements. Incorporating this into your business makes customers feel good about buying from you. Every time they do, they’re helping a cause.
Customers may be more loyal when they know this, too. The Cone Cause study above explains, “Forty-one percent of Americans say they have bought a product because it was associated with a cause or issue in the last year.” Businesses supporting causes clearly have an edge when they incorporate important causes and issues their customers care about.
Motivation for employees
According to the Cone study, “Employees who are very involved in their company’s cause program are 28 percent more likely to be proud of their company’s values and 36 percent more likely to feel a strong sense of loyalty than those who are not involved.”
If employees feel their work is meaningful and makes a difference, they may work harder. Incorporating a giving program where employees are involved may create a more engaged and motivated workforce, which benefits both charity and your own bottom line.
Save on taxes
Depending on how you incorporate philanthropy into your business, you may be able to take a tax deduction. This is often true if you’re supporting a certified charitable organization.
The Small Business Association lists what you can write off, which includes:
- Money. Cash contributions to charitable organizations are typically deductible.
- Donation of goods. You can typically deduct the value of any goods you donate, including products you sell.
- Volunteering. While you can’t deduct for the value of your time, other expenses can be deducted.
There may be even more tax deduction opportunities, so be sure to check with a tax accountant on what you can deduct.
More media coverage
Erin Giles, a business owner and proponent of turning your business into a movement, received major media coverage just one year into launching her business. With Entrepreneur.com, Inc.com, Forbes.com, USA Today, and other major publications picking up her story, she was able to both further her business as well as her philanthropic movement, End Sex Trafficking Day.
While you don’t want to do good only to take advantage of press, it’s another nice bonus to giving back.
You’ll feel good
There’s something powerful about helping a cause. To start, if you’ve ever felt good after giving, that’s no surprise. This study from the Harvard Business School found giving to charity can make you happier.
If you read the title and decided to read this article, you likely agree with me that helping the world is an awesome feeling. But why limit it just to our personal lives? Integrating philanthropy into business can make your impact much more powerful and your work more rewarding, too.
How to do more with philanthropy
Once you’ve made the decision to include more philanthropy, you need a plan to do it right to really achieve a win-win.
Share your story
While giving to charity and talking about it might seem tacky or like you’re bragging, I don’t buy this if you’re truly genuine in wanting to help. By talking about it more, you’ll hopefully garner even greater support.
Communicate to customers and clients clearly what you’re doing and why. Who are you helping?
Don’t use weak language like, “We donate a portion of all revenue to charity.” That’s boring and unlikely to get much support from anyone. Consumers want to know more about the charities you’re supporting, so give them all the details you can. Who are you supporting? How are you supporting them? And most importantly, why are you doing it? Outline all these things clearly in your marketing.
Pick a cause related to your business
Picking your cause is much more powerful if it already relates to what you’re doing. TOMS shoes didn’t decide to give away free t-shirts for a reason. Their business is shoes, so that’s what they give.
Customers likely already have some sort of attachment to the product you sell, and doing something related to that can mean they’ll care more about the cause you’re supporting, too.
Be genuine in making an impact
While incorporating philanthropy can help your bottom line, that’s not the only objective. Don’t launch a philanthropic campaign for selfish reasons. Customers can sniff out fakes.
Some campaigns we’ve seen by large businesses just aren’t as convincing to me, especially when they exploit “cause marketing” merely to benefit their bottom line.
Maybe their intentions were good, but you still need to be careful it doesn’t come off as a marketing ploy. Go all-out in your efforts to support charity, and everyone will win at the end of the day.
Has your business incorporated philanthropy? If yes, how?