Now more than ever, companies are engaging in philanthropic activities.
Many corporations give money. Some equip their employees to volunteer, even giving paid time to do service and coordinating volunteer activities on their behalf. Some corporations do cause marketing campaigns either as a one-off promotion or on an ongoing basis as part of their business plan. Some even have a head of corporate social responsibility.
However, very few companies align their business goals with their philanthropy, community relations, employee volunteerism, and cause marketing in a way that not only affects the bottom line but also has a positive effect on the community and world around them. For example, several years ago, we saw corporations jumping on the “sustainability” bandwagon – some in an authentic way, others because their customers were demanding it – and eventually environmental responsibility became a necessary part of the business strategy, not just something to check off on the CSR “to do” list.
When that alignment happens, you have Target's “Here for Good” platform that gives 5% of its profit to communities, adding up to more than $4 million each week and Macy's “The Magic of Giving,” which has given more than $60 million and 111,000 hours of service to charities and causes. Another example is Hasbro's “Power of Service” and its $5 million founding partnership with Points of Light's global youth service organization, generationOn.
You also have employees excited to come to work and motivated to grow the business, and consumers who are passionate ambassadors of the brand and advocates of the cause you support. This is just the beginning of the DIT (“do it together”) trend – executives, employees, and consumers working in collective collaboration to improve the world around them.
As this shift continues, expect to see more companies building “social impact” into their business model and working across departments and divisions to create align stewardship, corporate citizenship, reputation management, and philanthropic programs. More companies will also act in way that will not only build brand awareness and reputation but also have a direct impact on the bottom line and a positive social impact on their employees and the communities in which they live and work.
Dawn Wilcox is MD of Allison+Partners' social impact practice.