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Supporting Good Causes: It's Not as Difficult as Businesses Think


Businesses, charity and CSR


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In the West, we like to draw a big, fat line between business and charity. But it’s all rather artificial. Everything we do in business is about making people’s lives better. And that’s exactly what charities are also trying to do too. Getting involved in the community is about extending your business’s mission. And it helps to solidify your reputation and attract new customers. Customers are always on the lookout for companies who care about the community around them.


If you want to stand out in your town, try these methods of supporting good causes.



Volunteer



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Kohl is a company with a mission. At Kohl, they’re all about inspiring families to lead better lives. And their main purpose is to sell their primary products to do just that. But behind the scenes, Kohl takes corporate responsibility very seriously. The company gets its staff heavily involved in the community as a way to back up its corporate mission. To be seen as a company that cares about family life it has to reach out to the community and improve it. Kohl, therefore, has launched what it calls “Kohl's Cares.” It’s essentially outreach program conducted in local hospitals. Employees from the company go to hospitals to share important health and safety information. The focus on things like making sure families wear bike helmets and their seat belts in the car. But they also dole out nutritional advice for those afflicted by obesity. The net result is that Kohl has become a brand with a huge amount of respect.



Donate



Donating is, of course, the most obvious way that you can get involved in good causes. But it's a tried and tested method that works.


Some of the biggest business donors are not the companies you’d expect. ExxonMobil, for instance, is the fifth largest charity donor in the US, doling out a whopping $227 million. Goldman Sachs is another big donor. The company donated $262 million to charity last year. That’s more than 2 percent of its profits. Bank of America gave more than 5 percent of its earnings.


Donations are a way that big companies without great reputations gain some social cachet. Large banks, for instance, donate to women’s issues, public health and food security. But what can smaller businesses do?



They could follow the example of Warby Parker. Warby Parker is a glasses company. They promise that for every pair purchased, they’ll donate a second pair to someone in need. But what does this mean in practice? The idea is that when customers buy glasses, the company tallies up the number sold. They then donate money to their nonprofit partners, which covers the cost of buying the new glasses. The nonprofit's then train people in developing countries to do eye exams and sell glasses affordably. Then these people go forward and sell glasses in their communities. It’s a sustainable approach, giving developing communities the tools they need to invest in their own eyesight. And it’s a great match for the company itself, which is all in the business of helping people to see better.



Get Involved In Community Events




Being a part of the community is important for businesses. That’s why they should try to make an appearance at community events. You can do pretty much whatever you like. If you sell bouncy castles for a living, you can set up some bouncy castles for the kids alongside a sales booth. If you’re a restaurant owner, start cooking and give out some free samples of what you do. Remember, people love free stuff.


Also, make sure that your stall is bright and has some sort of anchor point. There should be a clear point of interest for customers. This can be something as simple as a spinning stand giveaway or an interactive contest.



The purpose of attending community events is to try to build you brand. But what this means will depend on the stage at which your firm finds itself. If you’re at an early stage, you may want to focus on building a list of emails and contacts. But of course, you risk intruding on your customers. If you’re looking to build your brand, just stick to collecting emails.



Wear Symbols Of Your Charity Involvement




Over the last few years, we’ve seen the rise in the number of companies wearing their way to charity involvement. In November last year companies across the country got involved in Movember. The idea was to wear a mustache to support research for men’s health. The Movember movement has spread to over 21 countries. And last year it racked up more than $147 million in donations. Companies went big on the Movember campaign. Perhaps the most famous of these was Groupon. Groupon is a global company. And their Movember initiative is probably what is responsible for Movember spreading to so many businesses. At the company’s headquarters in Chicago, they helped all employees grow mustaches. Even women.



There’s also been a rise in the number of companies wearing bandanas to raise money for kid’s cancer research. Last year logistics companies across Australia participated in the country’s National Bandana Day. The day reached over a twenty million Australians. Over a million of those actually parted with their cash and the average donation was over $20. There’s nothing to stop your company from having its own bandanas for charity too. You can design them here.




Promotions And Giveaways



Figs is a company that is well known for making scrubs. But it’s also a company on a social mission. The company recently announced its “Threads for Threads” charity arm. The company says that it will give a pair of scrubs away to a developing country for each pair bought.


Hand In Hand Soap is another company that has gotten on the giveaway bandwagon. Right now it’s partnering with My Neighbour's Children currently working with poor communities. The company sells soap. So the idea is to help make water pure and clean in these communities. Right now the company donates a bar of soap, through its charity arm, for every bar of soap bought. It also makes sure that a child or family gets access to a month’s worth of clean water.



Host Events




Hosting charity events is a great way for your business to spread its message and do good in the world. By hosting an event, you’re serving the community and giving people a reason to come to your business.

Setting up your own business event is easy. But when it comes to marketing, you want to make sure that you appeal to your target customer. For instance, a Ferrari and Maserati garage from New York recently hosted a philanthropic event. As part of the event, attendees got to see sports cars up close. And from each event, the garage managed to sell an average of five cars.



Serve Your Local Community Board



Finally, businesses can look to support good causes by serving their communities on local boards. The board you choose will depend on the type of business you are. If you’re an art or design business, you might want to serve on the Council for the Arts. If you’re an estate agent or financier, you might consider the Downtown Business Council. Other businesses might look to get involved in serving on the board of governors at their local school.


The purpose of this is to build links and find new ways to serve the community. Local community boards can prove to be highly influential. If you can prove you’re a responsible business, expect boards tell those they represent.


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