Engaging consumers in corporate social responsibility

Engage consumers Corporate Social Responsibility

Chances are pretty good that you’ve had the experience of being asked to donate to charity when checking out at your favorite retail store. Whether you consider these “checkout” appeals annoying or appealing, one cannot ignore the fact that according to one study, 71% of consumers said they have participated in a checkout campaign, and 55% said they enjoyed doing it. Additionally, many indicate they will contribute again in the future when given an opportunity.

A successful way to contribute to charity

The amount of money raised through these programs is revealing. One study found that point of sale charity donations raised $441 million in 2016. In aggregate, these large point of sale donation programs have raised over $4 billion over the past three decades. The practice has become embedded in our everyday lives.

Ways to engage consumers beyond checkout campaigns

There are the traditional “donate at the register” campaigns, but there are other ways to engage consumers in charitable giving. Like many of you, I recently participated in Amazon Prime Day. When I logged in, Amazon reminded me to go to Amazon Smiles to take advantage of my desire to donate to one of my favorite charities, St. Jude Children’s Hospital,  as a result of my purchases. In this example, I didn’t have to do anything extra – just make my purchases. Super easy! Amazon made me a loyal customer and made a donation to an organization important to me.

Engaging consumers in CSR is good business

Why do companies conduct these checkout charity campaigns and other consumer facing donation programs? It’s very simple. It’s good for their business. Consumers expect and want companies to give back to the community and demonstrate good corporate citizenship. While these programs are just one way companies engage, they are very visible to consumers, employees, and other key stakeholders.

Employees become ambassadors for the cause and invite consumers to participate. Checkout campaigns raise significant amounts of money but little corporate dollars are involved. Companies get recognition and the visibility without expending a lot of corporate resources.

Positive brand association with a cause

Point of sale campaigns are effective because they are often focused on a single charity or cause. This gives a company an opportunity to be associated with a cause. Having a single cause makes it easier to communicate with consumers and demonstrates a commitment by the company.

The cause does matter. Care should be taken to identify a cause that is relevant in today’s environment, appeals to a broad constituency, and fits with the company’s values, mission, and objectives. A study by Engage for Good found the most appealing causes were children’s health, disease-related charities, and campaigns focused on animals.

Corporate Social Responsibility continues to be a differentiator in the minds of consumers.  With more than 25 years of benchmark data, Cone Communications has consistently shown a steady increase in consumer’s willingness to purchase a product or support a company with a social benefit. Consumers have a more positive image of the company, are more likely to trust a company, and demonstrate loyalty to the company if they see an authentic commitment to social responsibility.

Checkout donation programs best practices:

  • Be authentic. Consumers want and expect transparency and authenticity from brands.
  • Use incentives such as discounts or coupons to encourage participation. It is estimated that 40% of companies offer some type of incentive to encourage donations such as bonus loyalty points, coupon books, and early access to sales and promotions.
  • Connect the donation to the company’s loyalty program.
  • Ensure a strong fit between the company and the cause. For example, a grocery store raising funds to combat hunger is very compelling and demonstrates authenticity.
  • Allow for competition between stores and employees.
  • Provide recognition of employees who are actively engaged and promote donation opportunities to customers.

The top five retail checkout champions in 2016:

  • eBay raised $56.6 million for over 34,000 charities
  • Walmart and Sam’s Club raised $37 million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals
  • Petco raised $28.4 million for the Petco Foundation
  • McDonald’s raised $281 million for Ronald McDonald House Charities
  • Costco raised $22.5 million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Just this week, we learned that Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals raises more than 60% of its revenue from the retail sector and primarily through checkout campaigns.

Checkout charity is just one opportunity to engage consumers, but it is a lucrative one. It’s a win-win for both charities and companies, and consumers like it.  The way consumers engage with retailers is changing but “doing good in the world is becoming a higher priority for consumers and employees.”

3 Reasons Why the Workplace is Critical to Fundraising Success

More money, more volunteer hours, more in-kind donations, more company grants, and – most importantly – more engagement with potentially long term donors is happening at and through the workplace than ever before.

And that means that the workplace is more important than ever to your fundraising success.

Let’s look at the changes that have been impacting the industry for the better, and then explain the three top reasons why the workplace is critical to fundraising success.

Change is good

The term workplace giving refers to fundraising programs sponsored by corporations and other large employers, where the majority of the giving and volunteering comes from employees.

In the “old days”, workplace giving programs were directed by senior management at the company for the benefit of charitable fundraisers like United Way. But those were the old days. Today, workplace giving programs are part of a larger spectrum of Corporate Social Responsibility programs impacting our communities.

Participatory and social technology that engages donors and volunteers – a staple in the world of charitable fundraising – has finally arrived in the workplace. This means that charitable giving through the workplace is easier, faster, more accountable, and less expensive than ever. As a result, many corporate programs are going global in their reach.

In a recent Good Done Great Benchmark Study on Corporate Social Responsibility, respondents identified Alignment with Key Charity Partners as a top priority for their CSR programs.

The Millennial workforce is huge – it’s the largest generational workforce America has ever experienced. And as Cone Communications reminds us, millennials care about social responsibility.

Millennials Social ResponsibilityAnd don’t forget the power of consumers. Not only do today’s consumers expect more from the companies where they buy, but according to The Nonprofit Times, they will pay more for all that corporate social responsibility. What consumers want, consumers get … and that makes its way throughout the workplace.

Workplace giving- the numbers

Such programs vary in size and form. Annual fall campaigns that utilize payroll deduction are always popular, for example, while cause-related campaigns (e.g. where employees rally behind specific causes rather than nonprofit brands) are increasingly attractive. Matching gift programs are a staple with many companies. Volunteer grant programs, like Dollars for Doers, are more popular than ever.

According to the 2015 Giving USA Annual Report, Americans donated $358 billion to charity. An estimated $4.5 billion of that total came from employees through the workplace. Corporations gave $17.8 billion, some of which was spent matching employee donations and volunteer activities.

So when companies are saying that alignment with key charity partners is a top priority for their CSR efforts, let’s remember – that is a $23.3 billion priority!

3 Reasons Workplace Giving is Critical to Fundraising Success

Your charity is already connected to the workplace – did you realize that? In many ways, through many donors, board members and constituents, you have connections into Corporate America. Once you realize that, the work gets easier.

Good Done Great CSRFurthermore, there are a lot of reasons why workplace giving is important and represents perhaps an untapped gold mine for your organization. For this post, we are going to focus on 3. These represent the “mechanics” of workplace giving. And by understanding how giving at the workplace works, you will better understand why workplace giving should be part of any charity’s fundraising plan.

#1 Workplace giving programs are free marketing

Thousands of companies will sponsor or participate in tens of thousands of giving programs and events this year. The companies, and other workplaces like government, will pay for marketing and promotion, recruit volunteers, encourage giving, and use THEIR resources to benefit charities.

And they will do this without your particular charity’s participation or permission!

So better for you if your charity is actively engaged with employees, employers, and their giving program opportunities. Over 120 million Americans are employed full-time. And the marketing is free.

#2 Payroll deduction produces larger giftsPayroll CSR Good Done Great

Workplace giving often utilizes payroll deduction as a primary method of giving, and the average payroll deduction gift is close to $250. By comparison, the average online donation is $77. Why such a big difference? Because payroll deduction spreads the gift out over a 12 month period, making it easier for the employee to give more. Steve Greenhalgh, VP of Program Strategy at Good Done Great, puts this in perspective:

“Not long ago, I worked with a charity that was trying to figure out why giving had been declining for several years. We figured out that one of their problems was that they were converting workplace donors to annual giving campaign donors. Every donor that they converted from the workplace resulted in an average decrease in giving of over $100.”

#3 Matching doubles the donation

Many companies offer matching gift programs, including 65% of the Fortune 500. A matching gift program typically offers a dollar for dollar match of an employee’s gift to a charity that meets the company’s eligibility guidelines. Furthermore, many companies with an annual payroll deduction giving campaign will match 50% or more of those donations – so that’s TWO reasons in one.

A lot of donations with the potential to be matched actually go unmatched each year. According to Adam Weinger, Founder and President of Double the Donation:

“An estimated $2 to $3 billion is given through matching gift programs each year. But the potential for this market is much larger. With over 15 million Americans working at companies that offer a matching program, anywhere from $6 to $10 billion in potential matching gifts go unclaimed each year.”

Wrapping it up

Hopefully we have convinced you why workplace giving is critical to fundraising success. The good news is that every charity already has numerous connections into the workplace. The problem is that too many charities don’t realize it, and don’t understand how the mechanics of workplace giving are set up to maximize benefits to charities.

Remember: Charities need a stronger presence in the workplace – and companies are prioritizing charity relationships. What’s not to like?