December 3, 2013  |  by Brianna McKinney

You’ve heard of post-Turkey Day Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but have you heard of Giving Tuesday? Started in 2012, this movement is focused on helping others after a weekend of shopping for family and friends (or yourself).

This year, Giving Tuesday falls on December 3 (today!), and businesses, individuals and nonprofits are making an extra effort to volunteer their time, sharing their stories of giving back via social channels with the hashtag #GivingTuesday. While it’s certainly satisfying to do something good for others, there is a host of other reasons for a for-profit business to get involved in socially responsible activities. I’ll share just three of those reasons today, along with some tips to get started.

Three Reasons Your For-Profit Business Should Prioritize Social Responsibility

“Corporate philanthropy was once defined by the checks a company wrote to charities. But money, while critical, is only one of many assets a company can bring to bear – and often times, it is far less powerful than the skills and capabilities that companies can draw from their business operations and apply to solving big social challenges.”
– Peter Scher, Head of Corporate Responsibility, JPMorgan Chase

1. Employee Recruiting and Retention

Research conducted by Cone Millennial Cause group, detailed in The 2020 Workplace, discovered that 80% of a sample of 1,800 people ages 13-25 wanted to work for a company that cares about how it impacts and contributes to society. More than half said they would even refuse to work for an irresponsible corporation. Additionally, the study emphasized that by the year 2020, Millennials will be 50% of the workforce. Therefore, not only is corporate social responsibility crucial to recruiting talented employees, it’s also an essential way to maintain the engagement of your existing work force.

While writing a check to a nonprofit or social cause is a quick and easy way to demonstrate social responsibility, corporate citizenship via getting your team actively involved increases engagement and allows your staff to feel the impact of helping others. It also lends to the creation of a cohesive company culture of giving back. We recommend either setting aside specific days for staff to volunteer together, or designating a number of annual PTO days for staff members to use to pursue philanthropic activities. If you can swing it, a combination of the two is an excellent long-term goal. That said, start small to test the waters and see which path fits best into your company culture.

2. Branding

While it may be easier for large companies with more financial resources to do so, incorporating your company’s core values and beliefs into your product or service can help to strengthen and humanize your brand. New research by Cone Communications and Echo Research shows that selling a good, reliable product or service is no longer enough to win over today’s socially conscious shoppers. The same research also revealed that corporate social responsibility is now a reputational imperative, with more than 90% of shoppers worldwide likely to switch to brands that support a good cause, given similar price and quality.

More than 80% of those surveyed in Cone’s study consider social and environmental issues when deciding what to buy, where to shop, where to work, and which products and services to recommend to friends.

Should you choose to give a portion of your company’s proceeds or volunteer time to a nonprofit or cause, make sure that the organization has values that are in line with yours. Another branding consideration is reach. If your company is global, your philanthropic partner should also be global. Similarly, if your company has both national and local community ties, you should choose a national partner with a chapter in your area.

3. Customer Engagement and Loyalty

Getting your charitable message in front of your customers and allowing them to participate can increase engagement and loyalty. Emory University recently studied customers of Moe’s Southwest Grill, a fast-casual restaurant franchise with more than 400 locations nationwide, whose charitable partner is the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The study found that customers seeing a charitable message at the point of purchase increases return visits, intent to recommend, brand trust and satisfaction.

Actively involving customers in your corporate social responsibility activities also allows your brand to harness the viral power of social media. Customers that share and have invested in your company’s common social interest are more likely to recommend your product or service through their social networks. So, instead of only telling your customers about the good work you’re doing, involve those that should experience your charitable engagement – your customers – and leave a sustainable impact.

 

Now that I’ve given you much to consider when it comes to corporate social responsibility, let’s get back to Giving Tuesday. What your company does today to help others doesn’t have to be monumental – even the smallest efforts can make a huge impact. For example, for Giving Tuesday this year, I am setting aside time to plan 2014 corporate giving for Bloom Communications which includes investing a percentage of our profits in global micro businesses via Kiva.org. We are also giving one of our clients a Kiva gift card to make the first microloan via our newly established Bloom Communications Kiva Lending Team. What is your company doing today to give to others? Share it! #GivingTuesday