It’s no secret. Corporate giving is on the rise and shows no signs of stopping. Google, for example, has given $100 million in grants per year since 2005. Coca Cola donated $106 million in 2016. And it’s still growing. Corporate giving is steadily growing in the US by 3.5% or more every year, with Google pledging $1bn by 2022.
In this environment, a new idea has jumped to the forefront of corporate giving. The idea is that what is good for your community is also good for your business. Michael Porter, one of the pioneers of creating shared value, summarized the idea saying,
“Companies can create economic value by creating societal value.”
If giving back to the community isn’t a serious part of your brand, you will struggle to stay relevant in today’s world. These four simple steps can help you navigate the sometimes-challenging process of becoming a socially minded brand.
Explore your company’s effects on social wellbeing. The classic example in this situation is the logging company that plants trees or the plant on the riverbank that organizes river clean-ups. An excellent place to start is your brand’s central revenue generator. Discover what negative side-effects your business activities may be causing in the environment or the community.
Find out what your employees are passionate about. The act of giving is a critical component of the health of any brand. Giving back offers employees the opportunity to join a cause.
Loyalty is a key side-product of employees buying into your brand’s social vision.
Determining which cause to get behind can often be overcomplicated. While surveys can be a useful tool in this situation, nothing can beat a small, informal focus group between senior leadership and employees about giving back. Simply creating a time and space to focus on giving back can yield incredible results.
Create your brand’s social vision. Your brand doesn’t need to be a B-Corp to make a positive impact in your community. A social vision should logically flow with your brand’s vision. I personally love Simon Sinek’s formula he presents in “Find Your Why.” The formula goes “To_________ so that ___________.” For example, I helped develop Clear Home’s vision which is “To simplify the home services experience so that we can live in a world where families can focus on doing what they love.” Google’s social vision is to help educate youth in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) so that the next generation can solve any problem the global community may face.
Pick the Right Partner. Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to help small to medium size businesses raise over $200,000 to build their communities. From food banks to education-based NGO’s, the partners have varied a ton. Picking the right partner is all about finding a non-profit or foundation whose mission aligns with your brand’s social vision. You don’t want your brand to pull the non-profit away from their mission, and you don’t want their mission to pull your brand away from your mission. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula for picking the right partner(s). I recommend creating a shortlist of options and meeting with each organization face-to-face. Avoid going for what you think will “look good” and go for something you can get your heart behind 100%.
After going through these steps, you’ll be ready to launch your brand’s social vision and partner. My final word of advice is to launch it and get behind it.
Don’t focus on the PR side of it. Focus on the cause, and I promise you’ll see amazing results in the work-life health of yourself and every person on your team.