Displaying articles for: July 2011
Cause marketing is everywhere these days, but not all efforts are created equal. Some campaigns truly understand how to balance business and social impact goals to drive real results. Others can seem more like green/pink/white-washing. To ensure your next cause marketing effort hits the spot, here are 4 guiding principles to keep in mind. These principles will help you home in on the right audience, goals and execution strategy for your campaign. Bottom line, it’s all about the human element.
1. People are inherently generous
Research demonstrates that giving makes people happy. There’s a chemical release of endorphins in the brain that makes people feel good when they do good. For example, people who committed random acts of kindness were significantly happier than those who didn’t. Likewise, spending money on others makes people happier than spending money on themselves. This phenomenon is referred to as a ‘helper’s high’ and can be a powerful emotion to capture through a branded engagement. Imagine if your customers translated their feelings of happiness to your brand because your company enabled their act of good? Now that’s a halo effect!
Example: Random Acts of Kindness are a huge trend in cause marketing this year. You can read more about why making people happy is such a hit with consumers in a Companies for Good blog post from earlier this year.
2. People respond to compelling appeals
Even though people are inherently generous, they still need to be asked or reminded to give. Humans are irrational and emotional and cause-related campaigns must appeal to those aspects of human nature. While the rational side of the brain understands statistics and can comprehend the scale of a particular social problem, people don’t rely on rational constructs to make most decisions and won’t find the urgency and tangibility in a call to action that speaks in generalizations. People respond to appeals that focus the need on the one child you can save with a donation for a vaccine or the one woman whose life will be changed by a microloan to start a community business to support her family. Specificity, tangibility and powerful images are the keys to capturing the heart of consumers.
Example: Malaria No More does a fantastic job of making their mission – to end malaria deaths in Africa by 2015 – tangible and compelling. Their appeals feature powerful human faces, with clear, discrete and motivating calls to action.
3. People are inspired by stories
Just as people respond to emotional images and calls to action, they are also inspired by stories about doing good and conversely being helped by those good deeds. Allowing people to continue the conversation about the good your campaign inspires allows participants to extend their helper’s high. Additionally, building a community around cause-related brand experiences adds to the stickiness factor of your brand and gives consumers a reason to keep engaging with your company.
Example: The Pampers Facebook strategy translates the brand experience into a community for new parents to share stories about being parents.
4. Social proof inspires generosity
People are social creatures and like to know what others are up to. Not only that, people trust their peers and the wisdom of crowds more than they trust experts. Therefore, social proof – in the form of impact thermometers or social sharing, for example – is a vital component of a consumer campaign. Additionally, people like to be thanked and recognized for their gift and social proof is one way to communicate impact and remind participants that their action mattered.
Example: The Levi’s Water<Less brand partnership with Water.org does a great job of illustrating the impact the brand’s water-saving activities achieve for access to clean drinking water in developing countries. Their water tank in the shape of a pair of jeans filling up with gallons of water both represents the collective impact of the campaign and inspires others to participate to get closer to the goal.
It’s time to reconsider the potential of product giving, otherwise known as in-kind donations, as part of a holistic CSR strategy.
I had the pleasure of attending a panel entitled “The Future of In-kind Giving for Nonprofits and Companies”, hosted by The Case Foundation and moderated by Geoff Livingston of Zoetica. The panel achieved a balanced view of product giving opportunities including insights from the nonprofit and corporate sectors.
- Cindy Hallberlin, President and CEO, Good360
- John Oakes, Communications Specialist, H&M
- Barbara Schmidt, Director of Administration, Jubilee Association of Maryland
You can follow the event conversation on Twitter at #Good360
Here are a few nuggets to take away from the event:
Product giving is important for your employment brand.
According to H&M, product giving and demonstrable community impact is very important to employees. Their young employee base is very active in the community and really wants to know what good the company is doing.
Product giving can help with a new market entry.
H&M sees in-kind donations as a way to drive awareness in new markets. Getting H&M apparel in the hands of community members helps build street-level brand presence and give the company a compelling media story to tell around a new store launch.
Product giving should align with overall CSR and business goals.
Cindy Hallberlin of Good360 asserts that any good corporate-nonprofit partnership should benefit both organization’s strategy and mission. Companies looking to give away products should 1) make sure in-kind giving aligns with the overall business and CSR goals and 2) make sure the goods match a specific nonprofit need.
Product giving is not totally free for nonprofits.
In order to take in physical goods, nonprofits need to transport, store and distribute the goods in service of their mission. All of those steps require resources, both in terms of money to pay for transportation and logistics and for staff to handle the goods for program use. In other words, the corporate product donation is just the beginning. Corporations can offer to cover such costs and more and more, nonprofits are looking to individual donors to provide smaller donations that can add up to cover these after product donation costs. Good360 estimates that every $1 of cash contributions from individuals results in $70 of market value in goods getting to the nonprofit beneficiaries.
If your company is interested in learning more about product giving opportunities, Good360 (formerly Gifts In-Kind) is a wonderful resource.
The following is a guest post by Katya Andresen, Chief Strategy Officer, Network for Good. This article originally appeared on Katya's Nonprofit Marketing blog at www.nonprofitmarketingblog.com.
Valentine’s Day has never lived up to its sentimental ideals for me. When I’ve been single, I found it sad. When I’ve been in a relationship, I’ve felt its romantic gestures have a quality of obligation—and mean less than heartfelt expressions on otherwise ordinary days. It has strayed far from the general celebration of love and caring that I’d like to think is its true spirit.
Until last year, when I, along with Scott Case and Ellen McGirt, joined Sasha Dichter in an effort to reboot Valentine’s Day into what Sasha called “Generosity Day.” The idea was to say yes to every opportunity to be kind, helpful and appreciative of those around us. It was a call to be open-hearted.
Give to people on the street. Tip outrageously. Help a stranger. Write a note telling someone how much you appreciate them. Smile. Donate (more) to a cause that means a lot to you. Take clothes to GoodWill. Share your toys (grownups and kids). Be patient with yourself and with others. Replace the toilet paper in the bathroom. All generous acts count!
This year, let’s make it even bigger. Consider being a leader or advocate of Generosity Day on February 14. Help shape it, inspire it and spread it! Make it your own - in the ways that will work best in your community. It will be a great experience that inspires the greatness in everyone.
If you’re interested, sign up here with your contacts and ideas, and we’ll keep you posted on the plans we make together.
The 2nd annual Social Good Summit is almost upon us. Mashable, 92Y and the UN Foundation are hosting this event in New York September 19-22 to help foster innovative solutions to social challenges through new media.
For the first time, the summit will also include a Startups for Good Challenge. From Mashable: “Eight Startups in the social good space will be selected from an online application. The eight companies selected will present their project to a panel of judges at the Social Good Summit. The winner will receive a cash prize.”
As a social enterprise ourselves, Network for Good can’t wait to see all the big ideas to do more good!
Stay tuned for more details from Mashable here: http://mashable.com/2011/07/05/social-good-summit-
Corporate philanthropy is a core component of CSR, and some would argue that community relations and grantmaking form the foundation of what is now known as CSR in all its various shapes and colors. Corporate philanthropy remains an important resource for the nonprofit sector, but just as CSR should be core to the business, philanthropy should also have a strategy and purpose. In fact, corporate giving should reinforce and complement more integrated CSR initiatives, like greening the supply chain or building an employment brand around community engagement.
The following infographic from Socialcast provides some statistics and insights on the state of corporate philanthropy. We'd love to hear about how your corporate philanthropy practices relate to your overall CSR strategy. Where and how do you give?
And congratulations to Network for Good partner Johnson & Johnson on being named one of America's most generous companies (#4). That's a good list to be on!
Points of Light and the HandsOn Network business member program recently released a new series on employee volunteer program (EVP) best practices. The first report - Trends of Excellence in Employee Volunteering Series: Basic Infrastructure – delves into the elements of basic support companies should provide their EVPs to help them excel. The report culls data and observations on the 29 corporate finalists for Points of Light Institute’s Corporate Engagement Award of Excellence in 2010.
Here are three key lessons learned:
Excellent EVPs can be housed anywhere (across functional areas and within internally- or externally-facing groups) – EVPs do not necessarily ‘belong’ to CSR, HR or Community affairs, they belong where there is the most dedication and care.
Excellent EVPs invest an average of $179 per employee (whether they volunteer or not) and $416 per employee volunteer – Robust EVPs cover salary, travel, website/internal communications, project supplies, and recognition items. Community grants and dollars-for-doers are not included in this figure.
Excellent EVPs average one full-time staff person for every 28,000 employees – this is usually achieved by many individual employees sharing a portion of the EVP responsibilities. The figure likely underrepresents the full staff dedication to running an Excellent EVP.
What does this mean for your company?
Your company has a unique culture and resource pool that will shape your employee volunteer program. The rules of thumb above provide guidelines for what is needed at a basic level to create a robust EVP, but they must be tailored to your company. The best resource for helping you shape a compelling and popular community engagement practice is your employee base! Find your most passionate employee volunteers and tap them to lead the EVP effort and help recruit others to participate. Then create a way for all employees to share stories of their volunteer experiences, social impact results and ideas to improve the EVP overall. EVPs are all about employee engagement – so engage them!
You can read the full report here. Be on the lookout for future reports in this series on EVP topics such as dollars-for-doers grants.
As usual, Joe Waters of SelfishGiving.com has zeroed in on the crux of cause marketing and targeted our attention on what matters most. His recent post
“Want to be More Successful? Stop Focusing on Cause Marketing” is a must read for any cause-minded marketers.
His bottom line is that technology is not a magic bullet for cause marketing. Just making it easier to get resources from consumers to nonprofits won’t necessarily result in lasting social impact and miracle bottom line results. This insight is reminiscent of the often overlooked reality that social media is not a marketing strategy; rather it constitutes a set of tools to engage people on marketing content. Technology and tools can only enhance the heart and soul of your cause marketing initiative, it can’t be the heart and soul – unless you’re a robot! You have to do the hard work to create something of value, then technology can help you unleash it.
As Joe asserts, “We need to set aside our tools and focus on what will truly build our success. Only then can we choose the right tool for the work ahead.”
Here are five ways (summarized from SelfishGiving.com) to help us all focus on the important stuff:
1. Start with what you know – your business – and keep those basics top of mind. Cause marketing should reaffirm your core business, not lead you into uncharted territory. Do what you do best, just with a cause-related element.
2. Make your brand central to your work. If the brand doesn’t stand on its own, a cause marketing effort won’t prop it up, and could even look like ‘green/pink/white-washing’
3. Analyze your assets and what value you have to offer a cause partnership or campaign. Then focus on translating that to lasting impact for the business and the cause.
4. Set measurable and tangible goals so you know you’re on the right track. And these should be relevant regardless of what technology you have at your disposal.
5. Design the partnership or campaign with storytelling in mind. Cause marketing provides an opportunity to enhance customer relationships around collectively doing good. The halo effect for your brand and warm fuzzy helper’s high for your customers results from an emotional connection to achieving the social impact goal. The emotional connection requires good storytelling.
Companies & Causes: The Official Blog of the Cause Marketing Forum is featuring great content from the 2011 conference. In a workshop on cause marketing geared for nonprofits, Stevan Miller and Clark discussed 10 non-negotiables for cause marketing partnerships. While the content is from the nonprofit perspective, it’s valuable for corporate partners looking to create thoughtful relationships and drive real impact.
The most important non-negotiable is to develop measurable goals and outcomes. After all, you won’t know if the partnership was a success unless you can measure impact – for both the business and the nonprofit partner. Below are a few tips to help partners communicate effectively, have the best mindset and set the most appropriate expectations.
Prepare for A Moving Target: have a flexible mindset to adapt to changing priorities as the campaign evolves. This may be more applicable to nonprofit partners, but any good corporate partner should take time to set the right priorities from the outset. Campaign mission creep doesn’t do anyone any good.
Be Proactive: maintain open communication among partners and don’t wait until the campaign is over to talk about what went right and what went wrong. Address issues and celebrate milestones along the way so no one is surprised at the end.
Have the Right Attitude: as Miller and Sweat advise, nonprofits should ditch the “We’re just so grateful that you’ve chosen us!” attitude and assert their rightful place in the partnership. Likewise, corporate partners shouldn’t assume that nonprofit partners will be willing to bend over backwards to meet their needs. Cause marketing is at its best when the partnerships are balanced and committed to both positive business and social impact outcomes.
Update: The original post inadvertantly linked to Goldman's Sach's original 2007 report and referenced performance statistics from that report. The link and statistics have been updated to reflect the 2010 report on ESG investment frameworks.
Recent research from Goldman Sachs found that mature companies with leading environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices averaged 34% better stock performance than the MSCI world Index from June 2007 to February 2010. While these findings run counter to many social investing reports, they may provide a more holistic view of competitive advantage in a shifting global marketplace.
Advances in communication and social networking put more transparent emphasis on changes in consumer attitudes (conscious consumers), employee needs (employment brands that take a 360 view of employee satisfaction), climate changes (resource utilization), and population shifts (urbanization). In an increasingly interconnected world, companies operate in a more transparent environment and are held to greater accountability not just by shareholders, but the public-at-large and in real-time. The ability to effectively meet the new business demands these changes bring about, and then leverage new approaches to create competitive advantage, is what will ultimately lead to premium valuations by the market.
Now there is finally a market-driven business case for investment in ESG practices, also known as CSR, but only if the practices are integrated at the core of the business and reinforced throughout the company. As Sarah Forrest, Head of GS SUSTAIN Research at Goldman Sachs put it in the CR Blog, "My personal belief is that companies must walk the walk and fully institutionalize ESG factors in their core business models in order to establish and maintain competitive advantage and outperform.”
One caveat, ESG practices in and of themselves will not drive stock valuation. Rather it is the inherent competitive advantage, or market edge, that a company creates by effectively adapting to new and evolving market forces that will result in better financial performance, and as a result, higher stock prices.
ESG or CSR or corporate citizenship or whatever you call it, is more than business for good. It is good business.
You can read the full 2010 report from Goldman Sachs here.
You can read the original 2007 report here.