Should Companies Market their CSR?

by Kate_NFG on ‎10-31-2011 5:00 AM, EDT

A debate rages in the CSR community: should companies use their ‘good’ practices and programs in their marketing?


Peter Knight, Director at Context Group, says NO!  You can read his article “Letter from America: Let’s Call a Sale a Sale” in the October Ethical Corporation magazine.  In it, Knight brings Toms Shoes and others to task for conflating marketing and selling to consumers with straight philanthropic activities. 


Tara Greco, Senior Vice President at APCO Worldwide, couldn’t disagree more.  She contributed a rebuttal to Knight’s article on the APCO Worldwide blog SharedPurpose entitled “Marketing Your Company’s Commitment to Shared Value.”  She notes:


“Companies like Tom’s Shoes recognize that a quality product matters most, and then you have to differentiate yourself from your competitors. These days, all stakeholders—consumers, employees, regulators, investors—expect more from companies. They want to know what your company is doing beyond turning a profit and they want to know why you’re investing in those things.”


I would add the following in support of Greco’s argument: consumers are hungry for more, not less, information on corporate responsibility.  According to Cone, Inc., 90% of Americans want companies to tell them how they support causes.  I don’t think that means they want more press releases and CSR reports.  Consumers, as Greco points out, are less trusting of traditional marketing tactics and now look more holistically at how a company talks about itself.  A 360 degree view of a company’s cause efforts has to include a mix of corporate communications and marketing, but more importantly now, the voice of the consumer.  Through social media and viral channels, consumers keep the pulse of what they deem to be authentic and meaningful cause programs.  If they smell a rat, they are the first to tell you so on your company’s Facebook page, their blog and any other place they have a voice online. 


Just think about the backlash that resulted from the KFC and Komen “Buckets for the Cure” cause partnership.


It’s not a question of whether consumers are confused when cause is incorporated into marketing.  Rather, it’s a question of whether they believe that cause is authentically and sincerely represented in marketing claims.  As with all elements of CSR, honesty and transparency are the best policies.


CSR: The Business Case

by Kate_NFG on ‎10-28-2011 12:42 PM, EDT - last edited on ‎01-11-2013 5:00 PM, EST by Network for Good Specialist

Our friends at YourCause put together this engaging infographic on making the business case for CSR. YourCause is a provider of global employee engagement solutions.  You can learn more about YourCause’s CSRConnect platform and get additional CSRinsights here


Why Slacktivism Is Underrated

by Kate_NFG on ‎10-26-2011 9:36 AM, EDT

Online cause marketing takes many forms, but a popular campaign format includes asking consumers to take a small digital action that earns a reward from the corporate brand or combines with lots of other small actions to create social impact that is greater than the sum of its parts.  Consumers have been asked to vote for their favorite cause to receive a grant from Chase (Chase Community Giving) or Target (Bullseye Gives), update their Twitter status with a special hashtag (USA TODAY’s #AmericaWants campaign), and tell their Facebook friends where they ‘like’ to put their purse in support of breast cancer awareness (‘I Like It’ Facebook campaign).  The prevailing wisdom is that these small actions will attract consumers who don’t normally support causes – the so-called ‘slacktivists’ among us who only give back if it is easy.


New research from Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication and Ogilvy Worldwide turns that ‘wisdom’ on its head.


Earlier this week, Katya Andresen, Network for Good’s Chief Strategy Officer, posted a write-up of The Dynamics of Cause Engagement study on Mashable.  I invite you to read the full post, but have included some highlights from the research below.  What you learn will likely change the way you approach online cause marketing and how you engage with your conscious consumers.


In the 2010 national survey, people who frequently engaged in promotional social activity were:

  • As likely as non-social media promoters to donate
  • Twice as likely to volunteer their time
  • Twice as likely to take part in events like charity walks
  • More than twice as likely to buy products or services from companies that supported the cause
  • Three times as likely to solicit donations on behalf of their cause
  • More than four times as likely to encourage others to sign a petition or contact political representatives

Linking Brand Identity to Cause Programs

by Kate_NFG ‎10-24-2011 5:00 AM, EDT

Stacie Mann, Network for Good’s VP of Partnerships, recently attended the Mashable Social Good Summit and reports back with a compelling cause initiative courtesy of Skype.


Launched 6 months ago, Skype in the Classroom provides a rich example of a company (Skype) extending its core brand identity (connectivity) with a relevant cause (education) to create a meaningful and relevant initiative that resonates at a grassroots level, much like Skype’s origins.



From the website:

Skype in the classroom is a free global community that invites teachers to collaborate on classroom projects where they might use Skype, and share skills and inspiration around specific teaching needs.  Uses include: cultural exchange, language learning and general discovery.


To date, almost 18,000 teachers have established more than 1,000 projects across the globe.  From Australia to America to Africa, 60 languages are represented in more than 170 countries.  The top U.S. cities using Skype in the Classroom include: New York, Houston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angles, San Francisco, Austin, Washington, Dallas and Omaha.


Teacher Testimonial

Kara from Missouri, speaks about finding teachers to connect with on Skype in the classroom from Skype in the classroom on Vimeo.


The takaway for other companies thinking about social initiatives is to consider how you can leverage core assets in new ways to drive impact.  If you can relate your cause initiatives to your core business, those initiatives will resonate with your key audiences (customers, employees, community), be easier to ‘sell’ to stakeholders and decision makers and ultimately be more sustainable.

Here’s a little Friday fun for you: a talk by Kevin Bacon on his work with Network for Good on Six Degrees.   Kevin spoke last week at TEDx Midwest, sharing his story about ‘the power of one’ and how he turned a college drinking game (at his expense) into a force for social good through

As he says, anyone can be a ‘celebrity’ for their cause - with the right message, connections and devotion.  I bet there are many ‘celebrities’ among your employees and customers.  How can your company unleash their generosity and reinforce their passion for the community? 


View more videos at:

It's that time of year, again.  The holidays are fast approaching and, at Network for Good, that means that online giving is about to go into turbo drive.  It happens every year.  Generosity ramps up to a fever pitch, culminating in the biggest day of giving on December 31st.


We know that your customers and employees are also generous procrastinators at the end of the year: they want to join your holiday cause campaign, but need a little encouragement from you.  This new Holiday 'Good' Guide from Network for Good will show you how to unleash their generosity this holiday season.

As a leading online giving platform, Network for Good wants to share our data about how donors turn to the Internet for year-end giving and give you a few tips. We invite you to read our insights and recommendations based on donations through Network for Good's giving system in December for the last eight years (2003 through 2010).

Let us help you design the perfect holiday giving campaign.
Contact us to get started.

There are two  important factors that lead to cause marketing success:

  • The cause must be a good match for the company, brand and/or target audience
  • There must be support across the entire company for the cause

That is a finding from the 2011 Corporate Social Impact Marketing Survey, a joint study by Allison & Partners and the Cause Marketing Forum.  The survey includes insights from executives at 35 top national brands (including Best Western, ConAgra Foods, Walgreens, and the Walt Disney Company) into their corporate philanthropy, community relations or cause marketing programs. 


Scott Pansky, partner and co-founder of Allison & Partners, recently expanded on the findings from the survey in AdAge.  According to Pansky,


  • The cause must be a good match for the company, brand and target audience; therefore, more importance should be placed on employee and consumer feedback.
  • Internal alignment on the business case must be achieved before the campaign is launched -- this could happen by engaging senior leadership and employees earlier in the process through research.
  • Unsuccessful campaigns are hung up on low sales results while successful campaigns use additional metrics to determine their achievements. Companies must be innovative when developing success metrics.


In sum, cause marketing is at its best when the initiative fits within a larger CSR strategy (that encompasses consumers, employees and other stakeholders) and long-term cause partnership.


You can read the full  2011 Corporate Social Impact Marketing Survey here.

CSR Impacts the Bottom Line

by Kate_NFG on ‎10-14-2011 5:00 AM, EDT

The following is a guest post from Network for Good’s partner YourCause, a provider of global employee engagement solutions.  You can learn more about YourCause’s CSRConnect platform and get additional CSRinsights here


It’s in the facts.  Research proves a measureable payoff exists of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives to companies as well as their stakeholders.  So, we turned on our proverbial flashlight to aggregate quantifiable data that so easily gets lost in reports, stacks of research and that endless labyrinth we call - the mind. 


We wrote this edition for two very simple reasons: 

1) To provide you with a high-level business case, within one page, that clearly lays out the proven benefits of a well-executed CSR program

2) To equip our readers with a source they can pass to others who may find such information meaningful and influential within their own decision making process    


Employees: Are Willing to Work Longer and Harder for a Company They Believe In

YourCause1.jpgCSR can be a key driver in employee engagement within a company. Volunteer hours and giving amounts may feel like a fuzzy, do-good metric but the reality is these programs can deliver quantifiable benefits valued for business returns (if well-managed).  Effective employee engagement programs have shown to reflect improvements in employee retention, business performance and attracting talent. Making sure employees are well-aware and engaged with the company’s program(s) brings a competitive advantage if they are treated with more than a nice-to-have attitude.


What sort of impact can retention play on the bottom line?  Consider the fact that the cost of replacing a mid-level employee is estimated to be roughly 150% the value of their entire compensation package, when factoring in time, recruitment, training, etc.  For high-level employees, the cost can reach upwards of 750%.  No matter the level of the employee, and despite the actual cost impact to the company, the indisputable facts remain constant:  a well-executed CSR program can improve retention, therefore, positively impact the bottom line of the company.  


Consumers: Expect and Prefer CSR Companies

YourCause2.jpgConsumers today, with the assistance of social media, the internet, mobile devices, etc., are more vocal about their expectations around a company’s commitment to CSR and how they engage them in the process. Promoting cause awareness and educating consumers of the company’s related CSR programs pays off, primarily with an increase in brand reputation, purchasing behaviors and sales through word-of-mouth.  In fact, trends start to look pretty grim when their perceptions don’t meet their expectations – feeling they are not engaged enough and not clearly communicated to.


Society: The Influence of Expectations and Trends

YourCause3.jpgThe "Millennials," also known as the "Y Generation," grew up recycling, eating organic foods, learning new technology on a whim, and constantly being attached to their social networks.  They understand that community service was a prerequisite to getting into a good school, and landing their first job.  Now that they entered the workplace, they place high importance on giving back to the community. This tech-savvy generation is civic minded and 78 million strong, leading the trends for the future.



Helpful Resources and References

Northup, Jan. "Employee Retention Is the Key to Minimizing Turnover Costs." Web log post. HR.COM Limited, 30 Sept. 2010.


"2010 Cone Cause Evolution Study." Cone Inc, 2010.


“2011 Deloitte Volunteer IMPACT Survey." Deloitte Development LLC, 2011.


"Closing the Engagement Gap: A Road Map for Driving Superior Business Performance.“ Towers Watson, 2008.


"Listen Up! The Talent Dialogue Approach to Employee Engagement." Deloitte Development LLC, 2009.


"Shaping the Future: Solving Social Problems Through Business Strategy."

Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy, 2010.


"Social Good." J. Walter Thompson Company, Sept. 2011.


"Workplace Giving Works! Make It Work for You." LBG Research Institute and LBG Associates, 2010.


Did you know that Network for Good sees online giving activity spike by factors as high as ten in the days following a large-scale humanitarian or natural disaster?’s just one insight highlighted in a new disaster giving eGuide from Network for Good released this week.   How to Help: 5 Steps to Effective Corporate Disaster Campaigns provides insights gleaned from ten years of powering disaster donations and proactive recommendations to help companies expand their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs to include timely and effective disaster giving campaigns for customers and employees.


In the wake of a disaster it is often difficult for companies to know when and how to respond.  It’s clear that employees and customers seek compelling ways to help those affected and they often look to corporate brands to lead the effort.  Companies are in a unique position to facilitate a response and focus resources and attention on a relevant call to action. 


This new eGuide seeks to cut through confusion about disaster response and present concrete steps companies can take to prepare a disaster plan and ensure their help is put to the best use.  The eGuide also highlights several corporate cause partnerships in action, including takaways from AOL, Campbell Soup Company, Capital One, Dell, Ryder, and Yahoo!.


American companies are among the most generous in the world. But generosity isn’t enough – real impact results from thoughtful giving where the need is greatest and the funds will be put to the best use. Take this opportunity to bring the right people together within your company to work through this five-step process and ensure that your corporate disaster response is both generous and smart.


Disaster Plan Image.png

Visit to learn more, download the PDF, and join the #How2Help conversation.

“A vibrant workplace can change the world. A world-class organization has a 12:1 ratio of happy to unhappy employees.”



On October 6th, I had the pleasure of attending the virtual session of the 6th Annual Best Practices in Change and Internal Communications Summit (#changesummit11), hosted by Edelman and CECP.  The day-long event featured CSR practitioners speaking to the benefits and challenges of making corporate citizenship a pillar of strategy.  I was particularly inspired by the first presentation, “View from the C-suite: Shifting Purpose from siloed corporate responsibility to competitive necessity and advantage: why employees are at the center of Purpose”, featuring Doug Conant, former CEO of Campbell’s and Chairman of CECP.  Below is a summary of Campbell Soup Company’s employees engagement approach and more notable quotes from the presentation.




At Campbell Soup Company, CSR and employee engagement are each distinct categories that have been added to the company’s 5 core strategic areas of focus, all of which are reported on in the annual report.  The company has made a conscious effort to build CSR into the fabric of how it goes to market.  The Campbell Success Model prioritizes engagement across the workplace, marketplace and community.  The company understands that it can’t effectively play in the marketplace if the workforce is not engaged.  Further, marketplace performance is enhanced by investments that also create an impact in the world beyond commerce.  And you have to do it all with integrity. 



Here are a few nuggets of wisdom from Doug Conant:



"We're in business to perform. It needs to be a results driven model. You have to do what you SAY you will do. "




"As you think of the most profound people on your life, they probably had world-class standard and you KNEW they cared about you.  We need leaders/organizations to be mentors in the same way."




"Winning in the community is really winning WITH the community. As you do better in the marketplace, you can better help the world."




"You cannot talk yourself out of something you behaved yourself into."




“Corporations create ALL the wealth. We need to concentrate on what we CAN do versus what we haven't done”.



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Companies for Good shares insights on cause marketing and corporate social responsibility topics to inform your charitable engagement with consumers and employees. Network for Good empowers corporate partners to unleash generosity and advance good causes. The blog celebrates that work and provides expertise and resources to help you do well and do good. Learn more

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