Tag Archives: nonprofit

Corporate Social Responsibility is More than Writing a Check

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In tribute to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, we will post this banner on all our articles until the end of November. 

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Giving to charities is on a decline. Corporate contributions, especially, have declined from a high of 2.1 percent at its peak in 1986 to just around 0.8 percent in 2012.

It’s understandable. With every transaction scrutinized, traditional corporate philanthropy is considered an inappropriate use of funds. And yet, the demand for socially responsible companies grows. In fact:

  • 90% of U.S. consumers say they would switch brands to one associated with a cause, given comparable price and quality, reports the 2015 Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR Study
  • 55% of online consumers are willing pay more for product or service offerings when a company is associated with social impact, according to a Nielsen study
  • 67% of employees would rather work for an organization that was socially responsible, according to the same Nielsen study

It’s not an issue of people being uninterested in companies that are socially charitable. It’s an issue of donating time and money more effectively. Businesses quantify everything, and for good reason. You want to make sure what you are doing is paying off. Because of this, corporate social responsibility has evolved into something that is beneficial for the business, their employees, consumers, and non profit organizations.

So the question is: how can you make your company more socially responsible and more effective?

 

Build social responsibility into your company mission statement

Effective giving starts at your company’s core. It should be part of your drive, written into your mission statement, and reflected in every action your business makes. Outdoor retailer, Patagonia, is a great example of this. Instead of calling it “corporate responsibility,” they view their corporate giving as “caring for the planet that has sustained us.” For every purchase made, 1% goes toward causes the leaders at Patagonia are passionate about, like preserving land, protecting salmon, creating healthier soil, and producing more sustainable food. Corporate philanthropy is not just something they do–it’s something they live and breathe.

Yvon Chouinard, the owner and founder of Patagonia, said:

“If you could get businesses, any business, to understand that they have more responsibility than to maximize the profits for their shareholders, or for themselves, that they have a responsibility to the planet. We all do. The best way to do it is to dig into your pockets and give the money away to the people who are willing to do the good work.”

Making giving part of your mission statement sets you apart from your competitors. It says, “we’re passionate about what we do, and we’re passionate about doing it responsibly.” The leaders at Patagonia stand by their mission statement to care for the earth while making good products, and from that, they actually make more money and have loyal fans.

Look at your products and services. How can you expand your societal engagement? How can you build social responsibility into the core of your business?

 

Partner with the right cause

All businesses start as being an answer to a problem. We see a market need, and work hard to fill it. Charities are the same way–they just provide their services in a different way. Partnering your business’s passion with the right charity can be a powerful and dynamic way to increase loyalty and goodwill for your company and awareness and funds for the cause.

 

The best partnerships make sense

In 2010 when KFC partnered with cancer awareness charity, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, people were confused. Barbara Brenner, Executive Director of Breast Cancer Action, argued:

“They are raising money for women’s health by selling a product that’s bad for your health… it’s hypocrisy.”

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Involving your company with a social cause is more than just feeling good about making the world a better place. It’s an alliance saying that the charity’s work aligns with your own ideals.

Warby Parker creates eyewear. But they also give back eyewear to people who need it. Their business model is “buy a pair, give a pair.” After they tally up how much they have made, they donate a portion to their nonprofit partners who train men and women in developing countries how to perform basic eye exams. It is good for Warby Parker, because it is good marketing, morale building, and fan building, and it is good for the world. It’s a partnership that makes sense and fits easily into their business strategy.

Some connections are easier to draw than others, but it shouldn’t be difficult. If you are a grocery chain, consider partnering with a food bank. If you are a technology firm, consider investing in underserved children’s educational programs, like science museums or kids’ camps that provide training in skills you’d like to see. There are thousands of different charities doing amazing work. Find the one that connects with the reason for why you started your own business and see how you can harness your collective power in transformational ways.

 

Social responsibility is good business

The companies that get the most from social giving are the ones who genuinely feel passionate towards a certain cause. It’s the ones that recognize a problem in the world and feel like they can’t just sit and watch. It’s the ones that are able to rally hundreds, or thousands, or millions of employees, customers and fans, behind something they are passionate about.

Being socially responsible is taking a risk, but it, so far, is proven to be a successful way to run a business. Craig Matthews, the owner and founder of Blue Ribbon Flies, second member of Patagonia, said:

“From a marketing standpoint, once people find out what you are doing and giving to what they are so passionate about, and what business members are so passionate about, it’s a no-brainer. People sign up and people become your customer because of it.”

 

How can partnering with a nonprofit help your business, inspire your employees, rally your clients, and change the world for better?

 

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Lauren Ellis started working as a graphic designer at 18 and by 26, she left her agency job to help start up a small web agency in downtown Austin where she worked as Creative Director. Since then, she left her home in America behind to work in Thailand with The SOLD Project. Lauren teaches art therapy classes, designs all of The SOLD Project’s work and manages the social media accounts.

How to Market as a Nonprofit

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Marketing can be a scary, even dirty, word in the nonprofit world. But good marketing is nothing more than engaging your audience in an authentic way. Your organization’s goals are to make a difference in the world–your marketing goals are to bring people along with you.

Nonprofits generally don’t have a lot of money or resources to focus on a comprehensive marketing plan. But good communication does not require much and it can have tremendous rewards.

Create a plan

You wouldn’t build a house without some sort of plan beforehand. Similarly, you can’t expect to have a successful campaign without a plan in place.

A quick Google search will give you many results on good marketing plans for nonprofits. When you work through a marketing plan, things will come up that many have never considered before. Plus, having a solid plan written down gives you some structure for when things get busy and hectic.

Some more questions to ask yourself and your team:

  • What is our main goal for our marketing efforts? Is it to increase donations, to get more email signups, to be recognized as a leading source of information on a certain topic? Whatever it is, plan your efforts to always point to that end. If it’s donations, focus call-to-actions (buttons, links in text, etc) to donating. If it’s information, send people to learn more. If it’s signups, include newsletter signups at the end of every article. Every marketing effort should have a singular goal in mind.
  • What kind of results mean success? Set a goal, from amount of donations per month or x% increase in Facebook followers.
  • Who is your target audience? Who supports you? Who is interested in what you are offering? Where are they, what is their level of education, and what else are they interested in? Try to get as specific as possible. Do they watch late night shows or daytime TV? Do they buy iPhones or Android? Tip: The best way to discover your target audience is to speak directly to them. You can cheat, however, by researching similar organizations’ target audience. For example, spend some time with Google searching for Pencils of Promise’s target audience if you are targeting the education sector.

Find your outlets

There are hundreds of ways to connect to your audience now, from emails to social media to print ads to video. As part of your marketing plan, research where your audience is. Are they online? If so, where? Want to reach them outside of the screen? Research what they read, where they go, and what they watch. You want to be where your audience is. You want to make your organization as accessible as possible. It doesn’t matter if you are on the most expensive, prestigious magazine if your target audience is not reading it.

Good free outlets that you should use regardless are:

  • Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are the usual suspects.
  • Email newsletters – Using free resources like MailChimp are a great way to stay in touch with your donors. They offer sign-up forms that you can easily integrate with your website.
  • Content marketing – Writing thoughtful content is always a must. Have an active blog for people to learn more. You can also publish on places like HuffingtonPost, Medium, and blogs are a great place to share your own thoughts on the nonprofit world.
  • Podcasts – Making a podcast shows that your organization is at the top of its field and that your staff are experts in your mission field. Podcasts provides good exposure to potential supporters who are already interested in your work or wanting to learn more.
  • Videos – You don’t need expensive equipment to make a video. Anyone with a smartphone can capture a video of your team in action. People love video and it shows you actively working in your field. Create an introduction video about your organization, an instructional video, or capture any events you produce.
  • Speaking engagements – Get in front of any trade shows, conferences, events, churches, and organizations that may be interested in hearing about the issues your work in. (And don’t forget to promote it on social media, your website, and in email blasts.)
  • Thank your donors – Saying thank you should be part of every marketing plan. Call or email your donors to let them know how appreciative you are of their support.

Speak authentically to your audience 

Finally, be authentic and honest. Use whatever voice works best for your organization and create open conversations about the work you do. We’ve found the more upfront we are about what we do and how we do it, the more trust and respect we get from our supporters. Marketing for your organization doesn’t need to be a scary, overwhelming task. Thinking of it as communicating with the people you already appreciate and want to share your goals and success with can help.

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Lauren Ellis started working as a graphic designer at 18 and by 26, she left her agency job to help start up a small web agency in downtown Austin where she worked as Creative Director. Since then, she left her home in America behind to work in Thailand with The SOLD Project. Lauren teaches art therapy classes, designs all of The SOLD Project’s work and manages the social media accounts.