Consumers and the Corporate Cause

Most companies are well aware of the benefits of a corporate philanthropy program. Not only do these programs have an incredible impact on the lives of those in need, but they also enhance employee engagement, increase retention, and improve morale. Corporate philanthropy can also deepen customer loyalty and satisfaction and contribute to business growth—if executed effectively.

“Today’s consumers are savvy, showing less brand loyalty than ever before. At the same time, more consumers are shopping with causes in mind,” said Ian Cross, Director of the Center for Marketing Technology at Bentley University.

Eight in ten Americans agree that corporate support of a cause wins their trust. But, with today’s skeptical consumer, corporations must take care in how they execute their corporate philanthropy programs.

According to Cross, “a company’s charitable participation should be driven by its values, especially those shared by its customers and employees.” While not every cause is going to speak directly to every customer, it’s important that consumers see the value and understand why a company supports the causes it does. “There should be an authentic connection and purpose for the firm’s involvement.”

A study by the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) found that most consumers are unaware of companies’ philanthropic initiatives. To raise consumer awareness, a company must be careful with the amount of information it shares—and walk the line between telling too little and telling too much. “One of the best ways for a company to communicate its philanthropy is to share evidence of the impact of its efforts,” said Cross, “whether it’s gallons of clean water provided to those in need, acres of rainforest saved, or number of patients treated.” This can be done through traditional channels, like product packaging and advertisements, but also on social media and through third party reporting, which adds even more credibility and authenticity.

Corporate philanthropy isn’t going away anytime soon. A study released by Elite Daily and Millennial Branding earlier this year found that 75% of Millennials surveyed said it’s either fairly or very important that a company gives back to society instead of just making a profit.Millennials make up nearly 25% of the U.S. population and have $200 billion in annual buying power, which will only continue to grow.

“Corporate philanthropy is a given in today’s society, with more and more companies cognizant of the role of social responsibility plays in their business model,” said Cross. If your company doesn’t already have a corporate philanthropy program, it’s never too late to start—as long as the values of your brand, employees and customers are at the forefront in your efforts to make a meaningful difference.