From hiring to sales to marketing, social responsibility can (and should) be a fundamental aspect of how your company operates. Even though you aren’t a nonprofit, you can have a profound impact on your community and generate attention for important causes. Plus, NXUnite states that socially-minded businesses attract more motivated talent that stays on board 75% longer while boosting the public perception of their brand.
That being said, determining your company’s philanthropic focus is a large and important task. Fortunately, there are some proven steps you can take to add philanthropy to your company’s message-based and visual brand. Here are some fundamental ways you can launch your business’ social impact.
1. Define your company’s social focus areas.
First, your company should determine the types of corporate philanthropy you’ll pursue. Purposefully choosing certain causes instead of throwing money at random nonprofits makes your corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts appear more authentic. Some avenues you can consider include:
- Boosting internal corporate philanthropy. Your company can support the causes your employees care about by offering programs such as matching gifts, volunteer grants, and volunteer time off. These efforts can make your employees feel valued, boosting their productivity and job satisfaction.
- Strategic partnership with a nonprofit. Instead of supporting multiple causes with small donations, forge a deep relationship with one nonprofit. This allows you to provide more comprehensive support over a longer period. Just ensure the nonprofit you partner with aligns with your company’s industry—after all, it wouldn’t appear genuine if a logging company worked with an environmental protection nonprofit.
- Launching internal belonging initiatives. Your company can support social responsibilities in other ways besides donating to nonprofits. Counteract social injustice by adopting diversity, equity, and inclusion programs that amplify marginalized voices. Take it a step further by funding internal affinity groups that hold cultural awareness events.
When developing your strategy, ensure you adopt internal and external programs so your approach is holistic and provides value both to your people and the community at large.
2. Craft your narrative.
A social impact narrative has all of the elements of any story worth telling, including:
- A beginning. Explain when and why your company began pursuing social responsibility. It helps to start with a specific event, such as a rise in deforestation.
- A protagonist. Introduce a main character, preferably your beneficiaries or nonprofit partner.
- A problem. Go into detail about the issue your social efforts aim to mend.
- Action. List the specific steps that your business is taking to solve the problem.
- A vision for the future. Unlike traditional stories, yours doesn’t have a clear ending. Illustrate what your ideal happily ever after looks like with your vision for the future.
Once you put these elements together, you should have an engaging story that details how your business got to this point and where you’ll go in the future.
3. Create a cause marketing campaign.
Now, it’s time to turn your mission into a movement with cause marketing. This form of outreach pairs your social goals with your business goals, motivating the public to support you by becoming customers. According to Fifty & Fifty, a winning cause marketing campaign has the following elements:
- Visual branding. Much like your normal marketing efforts, your cause marketing campaign should bear custom graphic components that speak to your brand.
- Creative storytelling. Think beyond the narrative you created in the previous section. Your public-facing materials should show your impact instead of telling. For instance, instead of simply saying “Our business planted 3,000 acres of trees this year,” you could feature testimonies from environmental activists that demonstrate the emotional and environmental impacts of planting trees.
- Multi-channel outreach. Leveraging digital and print media is crucial to expanding your cause marketing campaign’s reach. Pair your message-based and visual brand aspects to create compelling marketing materials. Then, send them via channels like email, social media, and direct mail to reach the most people possible.
Most importantly, prioritize honesty and authenticity throughout your marketing materials. While social responsibility does benefit your brand, the primary point you should communicate is how your campaign benefits your mission above all else.
Now that you have the pieces of a winning social responsibility strategy, it’s time to put it all together and start making connections in your community.
Prioritize maintaining genuine relationships with your cause, nonprofit partners, and community members. You can do this by actively taking suggestions from your beneficiaries and the public into account, getting to know donors by name, and treating your nonprofit partners as true equals.
By taking an active approach to social responsibility, you’ll be ushering in real change, improving your work culture, and making new customer connections in no time!