Somewhere between writing a business plan, launching and hustling your buns off, philanthropy probably dropped off of your radar. Perhaps it’s on page 5 of your to do list, but incorporating philanthropy into your company’s operations is a wise idea. Especially if you adopt the concept of generosity as a broader business strategy.
Beyond the heavily marketed Corporate Social Responsibility projects and 6 figure check presentations, the concept of generosity reveals more than a company’s worth. Demonstrating altruism can give your stakeholders an important human element to relate to in your business. This goes one step past the marketing for products and services that resonate with your target audience to give them another reason emotion engage with your company. Patagonia is a great example of a company who extends their commitment to a cause to their stakeholders in a meaningful way.
As a company that manufactures equipment and clothing for the outdoors enthusiast, they are aware of the fact that much of their operations has an impact on the environment such as energy costs from a factory to the kind of cotton they choose to use for clothing. The environment is likely prioritized as important in their stakeholders’ minds and Patagonia does what it feels is important to protect it. Furthermore, their choice of philanthropic activity is a very natural extension of their mission statement, which is “to use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” One of their cornerstone projects is 1% for the Planet – a strategic alliance of businesses who have committed to donating 1% of their profits each year to environmental groups. To date this has yielded over $50 million in donations. This is a near seamless philanthropic match up and a great example of how your company can have a mutually beneficial relationship with philanthropy.
Patagonia’s philanthropy has been developed over the course of 25 years, and that is largely why it is such a great example. But if you’re starting from the ground up, here are 3 points to help set up your company’s philanthropic initiative for long-term success.
The main key is to find an organization/cause that has some tie to your company’s mission. Yes, there are plenty of worthy causes out there but in order to leverage the impact, choose one that’s in alignment with your company’s values and mission. GuideStar is a great index of charities to help you narrow the search.
Decide how your company will be involved. Will it be donating money, volunteering time, cause marketing, or donating gifts-in-kind? Whichever you choose, consider the benefits for your employees, the company as a whole and the bottom line.
Spread the word and bring others into the fold. The great thing about philanthropy is that anyone can participate. Let your social media followers know about your cool project. Challenge your vendors or customers to match your company’s efforts. The idea is to turn what your company is doing into a movement.
Using these 3 ideas will help take your company to the next level by enlisting greater loyalty from stakeholders and giving them a bigger picture of what your company imagines for the world.
Vanessa Chase is a non-profit consultant and owner of Vanessa Chase Associates where she works with clients on direct response campaigns and copy writing. She is also the editor of Philanthropy For All – a digital space designed for young people dedicated to collaboration, inspiration and action. Connect with Vanessa @vanessaechase