As businesses celebrate the phased reopening of the economy, some will look to discounting products to entice consumers. However, discounting is not always the best way to attract patrons. Discounting can actually hurt your company and its reputation. First, it devalues your brand and products and sets up customers to expect future discounts. Second, discounts negatively affect your profit margin and can cut off the flow of money needed to reinvest in other parts of your business.
A more sensible way to appeal to customers is to donate to, or partner with, a charity or non-profit. Allocating some money for a charitable donation is a great business decision not only for the tax benefits, but because it is a simple act of kindness that benefits the community and helps your brand build goodwill. Charitable giving builds respect, establishes a good reputation in the community and shows you’re in business for more than just profit. Furthermore, charitable giving can make you feel great in the deepest parts of your physiology.
Giving to charity can garner huge benefits for your brand and spur growth. The U.S. Cause Marketing Market Report shows the effect of a brands giving practices on Americans (Mintel):
- 84% of consumers say it is important to them that a company supports charitable causes.
- 73% say a company’s charitable giving practices affects their purchasing decisions .
- 65% say they’d stop buying from a brand if it has irresponsible practices.
- 61% of consumers aged 18-41 say they would switch to a company that supports a cause they believe in (iGeneration consumers (aged 18-23), Millennials (aged 24-41).
- 62% of adult iGens say products from socially responsible companies are worth paying more for.
- 50% say they would switch to a company that supports a cause they believe in.
About three quarters of Americans (72%) say they feel it is more important than ever that the companies they buy from reflect their similar values. And almost nine-in-ten consumers (86%) say they’re likely to purchase from purpose-driven companies. (Cone)
If the numbers don’t speak loud enough, here are eight more reasons why companies should implement charitable giving programs and partnerships into their corporate practices.
- It Boosts Employee Morale
Employees love working for companies that share their same values and are active in the community. They love being part of an organization that allows them to bond with fellow colleagues as they team up to help those in need. In fact, a Cone Communications survey
says 78% of employees want to engage with social responsibility initiatives supported by their organization. A CSR study revealed 78% of respondents wanted to work at companies that address important issues.
Employees that are engaged in socially good activities are more likely to become more innovative and collaborative leaders. In fact, volunteer programs where employees engage in skills-based projects that develop technical expertise and improve soft skills have proven to develop leadership, innovation, communication, and collaboration.
A 2016 Deloitte Survey found millennials who frequently participate in workplace volunteer activities are more likely to be proud, loyal, and satisfied employees, as compared to those who rarely or never volunteer. They are also:
- Twice as likely to rate their corporate culture as very positive.
- More likely to be very proud to work for their company.
- More likely to feel very loyal toward their company.
- More likely to work harder for their company.
This idea of “making a direct social and environmental impact through my job” has measurable benefits to both people and profits. In a Society for Human Resources Management study, companies with strong sustainability programs had:
- 55% better morale.
- 43% more efficient businesses processes.
- 43% stronger public image.
- 38% better employee loyalty.
As Deloitte’s CEO, Barry Salzberg, said in Deloitte’s Volunteer IMPACT Research study, “By intentionally linking two often unconnected areas like community involvement and training, innovating companies can cost effectively meet business goals while releasing new resources for the community. It’s a powerful combination.”
- You Can Get a Tax Deduction
One of the most obvious benefits from your business supporting a charity is receiving a tax deduction. Charity and event sponsorships, volunteering services, giving inventory supplies, or simply donating cash can open your organization to all sorts of deductions on charitable donations – some of up to 50% of your adjusted gross income. While a company shouldn’t donate to charity for the tax deductions alone, it certainly can reap the tax benefits associated with charitable giving.
- It’s Good for Your Community
Charitable giving demonstrates that you give back to the community and are in business for more than profit. It shows your community that you care about making the area a better place to live and work. You can form relationships with customers and prominent community members that can have value to the company in the future. When people see a business helping the community, those people tend to want to support the company in return by becoming customers. Giving back to the community helps make that community stronger, which is good for economic conditions. It can also help facilitate social changes that could be beneficial to your business and the industry in which you operate.
- You Can Improve Consumer Perception and Gain Customer Support
In today’s market, consumers feel a personal responsibility to support social and environmental issues and expect the companies they shop with to do the same. Corporate giving allows you to make a personal connection to consumers by sharing the same values and beliefs – leading to lasting relationships. Corporate giving shows consumers that you’re fully invested in supporting social issues and committed to social improvement. It gives your company credit, and that’s important since 86% of consumers say they’re likely to purchase from purpose-driven companies. Companies that give make a lasting impression on consumers and they feel proud and tell others.
- 72% – Feel proud to be associated with the brand (e.g., wearing the company logo).
- 74% – Tell others to buy products from that company.
- 62% – Share information about that company on their social networks.
Corporate giving can build a great reputation for your business, while improving your image and gaining supporters. Getting involved with charitable causes shows consumers what kind of business you are and separates you from others. Customers pay attention to the way a brand reacts to social and political topics and issues and is ready to either boycott or buy depending on their stance.
- It Presents Additional Marketing Opportunities
Charitable giving is good PR, and it makes sense for business. A 2018 Edelman’s study found 64% of consumers choose, switch, avoid or boycott a brand based on its stance on societal issues. Edelman’s 2018 Earned Brand Study suggested partnering with a charity to sponsor an event is great exposure for your business. Not only will the local media cover the event, but charities are more than happy to thank partners in all their marketing efforts. Charitable giving creates a buzz within the community, building brand credibility and establishing your company’s belief system. It provides an opportunity to create a two-way conversation with consumers that share similar social beliefs. And consumers like patronizing businesses that join the effort to help others. Americans are more likely to have a positive image of (89%), trust in (86%) and be loyal (83%) to brands that support a purpose (Cone).
- It Provides Networking Opportunities
Charitable giving is a great way to build connections with other organizations and network with potential partners. Attending a charitable event can introduce you to other businesspeople, while providing the atmosphere to develop a relationship with the community and meet people from complementary businesses. People who share the same stance on social and environmental issues tend to develop a mutual trust and respect for one another, which are key factors in doing business. Charitable giving puts your company in the position to create beneficial partnerships and valuable relationships, leading to additional publicity and referrals – and that’s good for everyone.
- It Yields Bigger Profits
When a business is doing things right, it will benefit. Companies that support causes its employees agree with are more set up to perform better. In Cone’s Global CSR Study, consumers state that they have a more positive image of (93%), are more likely to trust (90%) and are more loyal to (88%) companies that support social and environmental issues. It’s no wonder 80% of Fortune 500 companies have a corporate social responsibility program. The financial numbers are clear:
- An estimated $1.2 trillion opportunity exists for brands that make their sustainability credentials clear. Unilever Consumer Study.
- Brands with a purpose set on improving our quality of life outperform the stock market by 120%. Interbrand’s Best Global Brands 2017
- The direct impact on future revenue losses due to trust events is conservatively estimated at $180 billion for the 7,000+ companies analyzed by Accenture in their 2018 Report ‘The Bottom Line of Trust‘. That comes to approximately $4 billion for a $30 billion company.
Not only can corporate giving enhance your brand perception, boost employee morale, increase referrals and forge new valuable relationships, it can also create an environment that’s conducive to collaboration and innovation – and that’s good for business.
- Giving Back is Good for You
Studies show that giving is good for your health. Not only does it lower stress and blood pressure, it enhances our self-esteem and brings greater happiness. It’s documented that charitable contributions create a response in the brain that mimics one activated by drugs and other stimuli. This response elicits a surge of dopamine and endorphins that are experienced as rewarding. Charitable giving can make your employees feel better and establish your company as a leader in the community.
As a business that partners with or contributes to charity, you are better positioned to create long-term, sustainable change than other entities. Large or small, it’s an organization’s moral duty to leverage its resources and influence and use them to build a more responsible and sustainable world. Companies that implement a solid and transparent charitable giving program have a bigger impact on their community, which yields huge rewards, in and out of the corporate setting.