Special to the Philanthropy Journal
By Eric Burger
Corporations around the world are always looking for new ways to distinguish themselves in the marketplace. Identifying opportunities to stay ahead of the competition, demonstrate value to prospective customers, and creating a culture that recruits top talent can be challenging. Incorporating philanthropy into an organization’s strategy can create a differentiator that provides multiple benefits to the organization, employees, and the community.
A recent study by America’s Charities found that 92% of respondents agree that customers expect corporations to be good corporate citizens. Another study by Strategic Philanthropy Inc found that 45% of respondents would take a 15% pay cut if the organization they work for made a social or environmental impact. These statistics reinforce the need for organizations to create a culture that based on philanthropy. There are many ways that an organization can incorporate philanthropy into their business model and into their culture as a whole. Below are several strategies that an organization can take to become more philanthropic and drive change.
Encourage Employees to Donate their Time
One of the best ways that an organization can create a culture of philanthropy is to encourage their employees to donate their time to personal causes. Organizations are often surprised how many employees take advantage of the opportunity to make a difference offering employees service time off that they can use to volunteer. Some organizations already have or are building relationships with nonprofits and offering employees companywide service days to represent the entire organization at a volunteer event.
Besides the value of providing volunteers to a worthwhile cause and making a difference in the community, organizations are able to share these experiences online and demonstrate to their following that volunteerism is important to them on an organizational level. Many organizations face challenges coming up with new content to share online and diversifying their messaging from the competition. Creating these volunteer experiences and sharing outcomes creates emotional and digestible content that an organization can use in their marketing efforts.
Encourage Employees to Make Monetary Contributions
Organizations also have the unique opportunity to lead their employees by example and while making a substantial difference in the lives of others. In 2015, it is estimated that corporations donated $18.45 billion dollars were donated to charities. This does not happen alone, corporations often need their employees’ involvement to reach their fundraising goals.
Rallying employees to donate their hard-earned money towards a worthwhile cause is easier than you may think if the organization is also donating a portion of their profits to the cause. Some organizations donate a portion of a product sale, set a yearly goal for their employees, or match employee contributions in an effort to reach it. Corporations can also work with their employees to create fundraising events to push them closer to their yearly donation goals. Organizations then donate to a cause and encourage their employees to donate as well.
Encourage Customers to Join the Cause
Most customers respect an organization donating their time, and monetary resources towards a worthwhile cause. Many customers would also be willing to get involved if the cause aligns with their core values. Organizations can substantially increase the reach of a nonprofit’s message by letting customers know about their own involvement. Helping a great nonprofit get their positive message out in the community can help a corporation build key relationships. The best way for organizations to get customers involved in the cause is by simply asking them to do so.
A few ways that corporations can encourage customer involvement is by creating marketing campaigns to let customers know about opportunities to get involved with, offering customers incentives – such as discounts to donate or volunteer their time, creating contests that engage customers in the benefits of the opportunity.
More corporations are beginning to realize the benefits of incorporating philanthropy into their business model. Philanthropy offers corporations the ability to diversify their brand, demonstrate strong values to their community, attract talent, and build relationships with other organizations around the world. The process of building a philanthropic organization can take time, careful planning, and strategic execution. However, one thing is certain, building an organization with strong roots based on philanthropy is worth that commitment.
Eric Burger is the Marketing Communications Manager for VolunteerHub, an organization that provides volunteer management solutions for nonprofits across the globe. Eric has worked in the B2B software industry for the past 2 years and has over 5 years of experience in digital marketing.