Marketing strategies are often focused on getting customers to buy something, so the thought of giving back and prioritizing values other than your bottom line can seem entirely out of sync with each other. But that’s not the case. Studies show that customers really value companies that are socially responsible and give to charitable causes.
A report released in 2021 by Havas found three-quarters of respondents believe there is a pressing need for brands to participate in endeavors that are of benefit to society and that help the planet. What’s more, these sentiments can translate into long-term brand building. Almost two-thirds said they prefer to purchase products and services from companies that are purposeful in their efforts to give back rather than just focusing purely on profits.
Meanwhile, six in ten US consumers claim working with charities and local communities is so vital that it might be a deciding factor if they were faced with buying a product at the same price from two different brands. Charity is crucial, then, and it’s a reason why many companies, big and small, are using it in their marketing strategies to appeal to target audiences.
There are many ways a business can support a charity. You can donate a percentage of your sales, host fundraisers, do business with charities, become a charity ambassador, and provide schemes that enable employees to volunteer for important causes. While your main aim is to do good and help the wider world here, your efforts can also do wonders for your brand image.
Makes companies desirable
One of the benefits of giving back is that it makes you more appealing to prospective employees who value companies that support social and charitable causes. A study found younger people, especially Millennials and Gen Z, believe it makes an employer more desirable. This is because it’s evidence of a positive company culture and working environment. Providing paid volunteer opportunities is also an incentive for workers to join your company in an age where experiences and perks are sought after as much as monetary gains. You can even go a step further and make charitability and its adjacent endeavors a part of your core values to really demonstrate your commitment to these positive causes.
Corporate philanthropy also boosts employee retention, which has numerous benefits internally and externally. It can make work more meaningful, improving workplace morale, especially when it aligns with important business goals and values. Reducing employee churn can also increase continuity and cut overall costs. The average turnover rate in the US can be as high as 20% depending on the industry, which can put a huge strain on the business. Giving back, especially through volunteer schemes, can make employees happier. University of Georgia Assistant Professor Jessica Rodell notes:
“Overwhelmingly employees who volunteered gave more time and effort to their jobs, were more willing to help out their colleagues, talked more positively about their companies, and were less likely to do detrimental things like cyberloaf or waste time on the job.”
Free marketing and publicity
The general public is now more attuned to the work charities are doing due to the urgent need for action on a variety of issues such as climate change. By working with a charity, your business will have a visible link with an organization that is working diligently to bring about positive change in the world. Many of these charities also make promotion and free publicity one of the perks of providing financial support to them. This can really pay dividends if a charity is sponsoring a huge event as your brand logo is likely to be used in marketing for that event. Your business will get mentions on social media, for example, and be attached to forms of merchandise. This will really increase the visibility of your brand and boost its reach both in offline and online marketing channels.
Build bespoke campaigns
If you are part of a charity event, you could also create a marketing strategy from the ground up and tailor it for that event. For example, you could use social media posts with relevant hashtags to get employees participating in the event to post updates and images on social media. You could also urge the general public to visit for a meet and greet. This form of visibility when linked to “feel good,” worthwhile causes can do wonders for your brand, both in the short term as you acquire new leads and in the long term as you retain customers and employees.
It’s the right thing to do
Adopting a charity-focused business model has many benefits but one of the most rewarding is the fact that it can really affect change and transform the world around us. Charities such as the American Cancer Society and the Children’s Heart Foundation, for example, are doing profound work that can help people around the world. By investing in and supporting these charities, you will feel like you are doing the right thing. This feeling can even translate to personal benefits. Studies show that people who help others feel better about themselves are also more healthy. Again, this is great for employees — and managers, too — who are often more exposed to the stresses and strains of daily work. Giving back benefits individuals, society, and creates numerous business opportunities. It’s a win-win strategy for all.
Links to influencers
Networking is important for your business. Getting involved in charity work puts you in contact with influential leaders and professionals who could be of benefit to your company in the future. This is very important if you are a smaller business and need new contacts to grow and thrive. These contacts could help you in other areas outside of charity work. They can also assist you with serving people in a local community or a specific niche you want to target. Relationships built based on mutual, positive goals can be of great value to your brand. You might even be able to work with “mega” influencers on content marketing campaigns to reach new audiences. There are so many ways these relationships can take your marketing strategy to the next level, and they can have a positive impact in other areas of your business, too.
Increases search engine visibility
By incorporating charity work into your marketing, you are more like to be seen and heard. This can create a buzz that leads to positive word of mouth, both in local communities and online. Being involved in a marketing campaign, for example, can lead to a rise in mentions on platforms like Twitter. This will then make your brand more visible on social media. When people see your brand this way, they are likely to Google your company name, which can lead to more people clicking through to your site. If your marketing strategy includes on-site SEO optimization, you can keep these visitors around and entice them to complete purchases.
Qualifies for tax deductions
While it might not be the main reason for giving back to charities, supporting IRS-approved non-profit organizations will make you eligible for donation tax relief, which can lower your overall tax bill. You can claim a tax deduction within nine months of the end of the financial year that you made a payment to a charity. There are many forms of charitable contributions that are eligible for tax relief but as a business, it’s crucial that you document these acts correctly. You could, for example, run a volunteering event for your employees. You can receive tax relief for this event by writing the cost off. If you want to contribute to charities regularly, this is a process that your accountants and directors should become familiar with to lower taxes.
Makes you think bigger
Business leaders are often profit-oriented, so it’s easy to get tunnel vision and focus purely on internal goals and objectives that have no connection to the wider world. Taking a step back and considering bigger issues and global problems other than your own can transform your business outlook and help you to forge links with the people that really matter. LinkedIn’s Brian Church believes brands often underestimate the potential they have to do good. With ongoing political inaction, brands have the clout and resources to help things change for the better.
He adds: “Celebrating and acting upon the potential of your employees to make a difference can empower them to strive for change, rather than concentrating on short-term gain… If you demonstrate the value of giving back to you, this can trickle down throughout your organization.”
Gives you a leadership edge
Charitable work and selfless acts are a sign of strong and mature leadership. The importance of having a leadership edge in the competitive world of business cannot be understated. If you want to give back, but are also considering new ways to perform better, hurdle new challenges, drive growth, and achieve your goals, you could complete an online distance learning program while you work. An MBA education is available to anyone with a Master’s degree. If you or any employees want to start or strengthen your leadership skills and get better at making important, informed decisions, then a postgraduate degree is the answer. You can use the knowledge and skills you learn to support your charitable endeavors and incorporate giving back into your marketing and business strategy.
Becoming socially responsible
Charity work is a sign that your business is socially responsible and capable of acting in the best interests of society. You could use giving back as a stepping stone to implementing a range of other inclusive and sustainable business practices. A study by HubSpot found 45% of people believe brands should champion social advocacy and make their stance clear on pressing issues such as income equality, climate change, and racial justice. You can use charitable work as a way to understand your brand’s position in the world and to define its identity and what you should stand for.
You can then incorporate your socially responsible acts into your marketing campaigns. Many brands have done this, including the footwear company TOMS, which has used marketing to highlight how it donates a pair of its shoes to those in need. This act of generosity happens every time a customer buys a pair of shoes, which makes them feel even better about their purchase. You could market your charitable acts in a similar way, i.e., donating to a particular charity when customers buy a product or service.
Ways you can support a charity
Now that you know how beneficial corporate gift aid can be for your marketing strategy and the wider business, it’s time to start considering how you can give back. Donating a percentage of your profits to a charity is one way you can show support, as is volunteering one of your specialist skills to help a charity run an event or advertise online. For example, you could volunteer skills to help a charity create content or build a website. You can then reveal how close your partnership is with a charity in your marketing materials.
Fundraising events are another excellent choice, especially if you want to make a marketing splash, as it will raise awareness of your brand and the charity, which again is a win-win strategy. Your employees can use the event as a team-building exercise, which will boost morale. You can also use a charity as a supplier if they have products or services that can help your business and support your own internal departments. You could act as a charity ambassador, too, if you want to highlight the great work they are doing.
There are so many ways to get involved with charitable endeavors that can benefit your business that it’s fair to say it’s more than just a marketing strategy. It can define your corporate identity, attract and retain employees, and have a positive impact on local communities and the planet. The increased brand visibility and revenue are a welcome bonus, too, so why not start putting together a plan for giving back today?