Supporting a cause is good business. That’s the message from a growing field of research that shows how consumers react to brands that support a charity or cause.
Ninety-one percent of consumers believe brands should do more than make a profit, they should address social or environmental concerns too, according to a study from Cone Communications.
Businesses are responding. At least 75 percent of businesses participate in “cause marketing,” as it’s called, which is the act of supporting a charity and marketing it to consumers.
By giving back, both businesses and the community reap rewards.
How charitable giving benefits businesses and communities
- Your community gets support
By teaming up with a local charity, your business makes a positive impact on the community. Whether you support the an animal adoption agency or a regional hospital that fights cancer, charities like these received two billion dollars in 2016 as a result of cause marketing, according to Cause Marketing Forum.
- Your business builds trust and loyalty
The goal of every business is to create a relationship with customers that establishes trust and encourages loyalty. Research shows supporting a cause can do just that.
Ninety percent of consumers trust a business that addresses social or environmental issues, and 88 percent say they’ll reward a business that supports a cause by being becoming a loyal customer, according to research from Cone Communications.
- Your business can attract new customers
Supporting a cause can also help businesses land new customers. How? Ninety percent of consumers are willing to switch brands to one associated with a cause. By telling consumers about the cause and your commitment to improving the area, you can set yourself apart from the competition.
- Your employees want to help
To support a cause successfully, you’ll need help from your employees. Whether you ask them to solicit donations at the register or volunteer at various events, your employees will be involved.
Fortunately, supporting a cause is a great way to boost employee engagement. More than half of all employees (51%) say they won’t work for a company that doesn’t have strong social or environmental commitments, and 74 percent say their job is more fulfilling when they can make a positive impact on the community through their job.
Tips to adopting cause marketing for your business
- Pick a nonprofit to support
Try to select a nonprofit that makes sense for your business, or aligns with your business values. For instance, a pet food company can support a local animal shelter, or a salon can support a nonprofit that makes wigs for people with health problems.
You could also ask your customers and employees for ideas.
Once you have it narrowed down, you should also check the validity of the nonprofit before making a commitment. Run the nonprofit through a search on CharityNavigator.org, and meet with executives to discuss what your sponsorship would look like.
- Try a small-scale project first
Test the waters by committing to a small project with the charity first. Try sponsoring an event, like a 5K walk, and see how the process works. Take note of how organized the nonprofit is, how communication is handled and where your donations go.
- Tell customers about the cause
Your customers are eager to learn about your decision to support the community, so start providing information once the relationship is established.
Be sure to communicate clearly. Seventy-one percent of consumers say the messaging used by companies to explain their involvement in a cause confuses them.
Tell customers what the cause is, where it’s located, why you selected it, and what efforts you’re planning to help the nonprofit. You’ll want to break this information up into “digestible pieces” rather than downloading every last detail in an email or on an in-store banner.
Use multiple platforms to communicate, including social media, text message and email.
- Create promotions surrounding your cause
Now you need customers to jump on board your nonprofit’s bandwagon. To do so, create promotions that not only educate consumers about your involvement, but also encourage their support in some way.
For instance, send a text that encourages customers to buy a specific product. In turn, every product purchased results in a donation to the nonprofit. Just make sure you’re clear about the donation. For instance, say, “When you buy a medium coffee, we’ll donate $1 to the Buffalo Pet Society.”
You can also provide an incentive for customers to participate. For instance, if you host a coat drive at your store, you can give participants a 10 percent off coupon that’s good on their next purchase.
For additional help, check out these three charitable-giving promotions you can send.
- Share your results
When your business reaches a milestone, or finishes a campaign, tell customers about it. To keep customers engaged with your cause, you can’t just ask for support, you have to communicate your progress too.
Send an email letting customers know how much money you raised, keep the box of donated coats in a visible area of your store with a board that tells customers how many have been collected so far, or send everyone a ‘thank you’ text with the results of a specific campaign included.
Do you support a cause? Share your experience in the comment section below.