A recent Nielsen survey found that many consumers prefer to buy from companies that give back to society. Of those surveyed:
- 66% say they prefer to buy products and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society.
- 62% prefer to work for those companies.
- 59% prefer to invest in those companies.
- 46% say they are willing to pay more money for products or services offered by those companies.
Clearly, giving back to the community means benefits for both charities and the businesses that support them. Cause marketing (promoting charitable works as a selling point) can work well for companies. But it’s important that this kind of marketing doesn’t come across as self-serving. Here are 6 ways to promote your company’s charitable works without looking like a self-serving jerk.
1) Promote through social media.
Use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest to promote your company’s charitable works and engage the community at the same time.
Your social media profiles already create a sense of shared experience with your customers; help them get involved with your charity the same way. People love to feel like they can make a difference; look at all the donations collected through social media platforms after natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy.
Create contests for your Facebook friends and Twitter followers; for instance, offer specific donations for every 10 “likes” or “follows.” Instead of looking as though you’re just promoting your business, you’ll be able to show customers that you truly care about the charities you support; and that you want them to be involved, too.
2) Put articles on your blog or website.
Write an article for your company’s blog, or create a “community” section on your site that provides details about your favorite causes. Instead of splashing your latest good deed all over you homepage, simply draw site visitors to those pages through a small banner that says, “We support This Charity… click here to find out how you can help, too!” Provide a specific call to action that allows customers to join you in your efforts.
3) Post in-store signage
Use signage to remind customers about the causes you support. But instead of loudly proclaiming, “Look What We’re Doing!,” create signs that give customers a way to help. You might develop a campaign that provides a specific donation for every sale, or asks customers to donate directly.
I recently purchased books at my local Barnes & Noble store. Behind the counter was a shelf full of children’s books and a sign that told me I could purchase a book to give a child at one of the local elementary schools. Instead of saying, “Barnes & Noble is giving books to needy kids!” the sign told me how I could join the store to help kids receive books.
4) Volunteer time and effort.
They say actions speak louder than words. So get out there and act already! Volunteer time in addition to money. Include employees and customers for a day of charitable giving by issuing invitations and putting up signage to advertise the event. Don’t forget to include signage at the volunteer location, too.
5) Choose just a few charities and participate in a meaningful way.
Some companies mistakenly think that if one charity makes them look good, a dozen will make them look even better. This method can backfire—it appears that you’re just collecting as many charities as you can in order to promote yourself. Instead, choose just two or three charities that you truly care about, and participate in meaningful way. Instead of giving twelve charities $100, give one charity $1200.
6) Fulfill community needs.
Looking for a good charity? Look close to home. There are plenty of charitable organizations that could use your help. Try the local soup kitchen, food bank or homeless shelter. Contact the local elementary school to see if they could use some volunteers. Help elderly or physically-challenged residents of your town with yard work, home repairs or shopping. Ask around (try asking your customers for ideas) and you’ll soon have a list of needs right next door. Your charitable efforts have a greater impact when they’re seen throughout the neighborhood, and you’re directly affecting your community at the same time.
Your real motive shines through every time.
Marketing shouldn’t be the impetus for giving; your customers see right through your ulterior motives and are turned away by your insincerity. A true, sincere desire to help people in need comes first; capitalizing on the market value of charity is a secondary perk. Promote your company’s good works in a way that is designed to help the charity more than the company, and you’ll do both.