Being a good steward in the local community is no longer a nicety, but a necessity to be successful in the current business environment. In fact, many companies are branding their business with the mentality of “doing good for others,” and putting an emphasis on corporate citizenship as an identity that not only fulfills an underlining responsibility, but also attracts consumers and talented employees.
According to the 2016 Nielsen Corporate Sustainability Report, 66% of customers worldwide are willing to pay more for sustainable brands. Moreover, the Net Impact What Workers Want report found that 45% of workers would take a 15% pay decrease to work a job that makes a social or environmental impact, with 51% citing “making a better world” and “contributing to society” as essential. From startups implementing the buy-one, give-one formula to corporations offering and encouraging matching funds programs to companies paying for volunteer hours, organizations are finding an identity outside of good business and investing in a new venture—the business of doing good.
Buy One, Give One
With consumers and workers alike becoming more social-minded, some businesses thrive on meeting multiple needs, combining a particular good or service and a sense of community-based involvement. From simple start-ups to international corporations, this dualistic approach to business has transformed the buy-for-less mentality into a pay-more-to-give -back consumer approach. For example, TOMS pioneered the buy-one-give-one business model by donating a pair of shoes to a person in need for every pair of shoes sold. Now, they have expanded their social-minded business to provide optometry and donated glasses to underprivileged individuals for every pair of glasses sold. Consumers are willing to pay a moderately higher price knowing that each purchase supports a greater cause.
Another example of conscious business techniques is coffee companies that are aligned with the Rainforest Alliance Certified group and Fair Trade organization. While other businesses may take advantage of farmers in developing countries, these type of companies’ goal is to pay a fair price to those harvesting the beans, which in turn, helps the local community and allows those people who purchase coffee from companies like Costa Coffee and Starbucks to help provide well-paying jobs.
Corporate Citizenship Programs
There are hundreds of brands known for being generous from time to time, but for some, it’s built into their DNA. According to research by Double the Donation, 65% of Fortune 500 companies have matching funds program. However, only 9% of employees who are offered these types of programs actually participate. So, building a culture of giving back is just as important as merely offering charitable options.
For example, General Electric supports a matching funds program in which employee donations for approved nonprofits between $25 and $25,000 are matched at a ratio of one to one, which helps boost worker participation. Google has a similar program, which matches funds raised at charitable events their employees are involved in. On top of that, Google created Google Dot Org to help communities across the world by donating $100 million annually in grants, as well as 80,000 volunteer hours and $1 billion in products.
Volunteering and the Power of Millennials
Another way companies build a culture of corporate citizenship is by offering employees the opportunity to donate not just with their wallets, but with their time. According to Double the Donation, 40% of Fortune 500 companies offer employee volunteer programs. But, as the generational shift between Baby Boomers and Millennials in the workforce and marketplace continues, that number may tick up.
Millennials have already surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest generation in the workforce, and according to You Brand, global Millennials had a spending power of $2.45 trillion in 2015, including $1 trillion in the U.S. alone. That kind of power in the work and marketplace is bound to shift organizational focus. A Cone Communications Millennial study found that nine out of 10 Millennials would switch brands to a cause-based organization. Having a volunteer program helps establish a culture of giving and brands your business as one focused on serving the local community, while helping you attract talented workers who desire to work for charitable companies.
As the average consumer evolves, the trend of branding a business based on giving back may become more widely spread. Moreover, younger employees have been known to not only want to do business with community-minded companies, they also want to work for these types of organizations. To maintain a competitive advantage, it is imperative to establish your business as one that serves the community and is in the business of doing good.
What does your company do to give back to the local community? How do you involve your employees in your corporate citizenship programs? Let us know in the comments section below!