In the business world, we’re often mulling over our brand – its brand image, voice, reputation and marketing. We don’t hesitate to hire brand-building consultants, whether that’s business analysts or advertising agencies. But there’s another way to build your brand and give back at the same time: supporting a charity. How can this be so? That depends on your company – both what it is now, and what you’d like for it to be.
Gap Adventures, for instance, has built giving into their business model by giving back to the communities in which it runs tours. This helps them beat the competition, making them look a lot better than that rival travel company that does nothing to make up for whatever ecological damage and social disruption their tours might create. Customers feel better if they know a portion of their tour fees will benefit the locals; that converts into purchases.
Related: Is Your Company Socially Responsible?
For a company like Philip Morris, the name of the game is cause marketing, defined as any effort done either by the donating company, by the non-profit, or by both organizations together to promote the non-profit’s cause. By giving money to the Whitney museum, Philip Morris was able to have a branch named after their company. This means that every time a patron visits that branch, they’ll associate the Phillip Morris name with art and culture, rather than with negative news about cigarettes.
In this way, cause marketing can help a brand change, diversify or enhance its image, which directly builds trust and drives sales. One study found that as many as 85% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that supports a charity than a competitor that does not.
- Cause marketing will also increase exposure, as a business will be visible not just in its own ad and marketing campaigns but in the charity’s as well. This exposure increases even more when the company supports a charity’s event rather than just making a general contribution.
- If, for instance, your brand supports a charity’s fun run, you’ll have your name splashed across t-shirts and banners, which will get your brand on customer’s minds as they engage with something meaningful, memorable and fun.
- The same is all the more true if the charity you support does something truly unique, like the toe wrestling competition supported by Ben & Jerry’s UK, which encourages customers to get involved in an unforgettable way.
The benefits aren’t all external. If you give your employees a strong voice in choosing from amongst several charity and fundraising ideas, they’ll be invested in the process and eager about the cause.
Feeling good about what your company has banded together to do as a team will increase morale in the office, as will taking breaks from the every day routine to participate in events. And who knows? Thinking outside of the box for the sake of a charity might just get employees thinking differently about your business and innovating where they can.
Popular fundraising & Charity Ideas:
- Cancer: The Susan G. Komen Race for Cure and Live Strong are two organizations known by everyone. Think about supporting a local chapter or starting your own cancer fundraising charity
- Arts: Fundraising and charity for the Arts has always been popular but is usually focused within a local art community. That is until Kickstarter came to the scene giving fundraisers global exposure.
- Animals: The SPCA is a leader in this cause. Their commercial with Sarah McLachlan and images of abused animals has made quite an impression.
- Autism: A number of celebrities are advocates for autism awareness supporting charities like Autism Speaks.
Last but not least, working with a charity is beneficial purely from a networking perspective. Charities are stocked full of passionate, intelligent, and engaged people, some of whom might make a great fit at your company at a later date. If you work well with them, they’ll become as passionate about your brand as you are, eager to tell their vast networks about your products or services.
Related: Marketing: Time To Be Legal, Decent, Honest And Truthful?
Only good things can come of associating your brand with a charity. Just make sure to pick a cause about which the members of your company can be passionate so you can develop campaigns that are genuine, attention-grabbing, paradigm-shifting and new. Consider it the best kind of brainstorming exercise.
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Image: “Charity Road Sign with dramatic blue sky and clouds/Shutterstock“