No matter whether a company is big or small, its brand is arguably one of its most valuable assets. It’s what attracts customers and employees, and what frames the company’s narrative. It not only shapes the products or services the brand sells, but also the company’s perception with the general public. Businesses spend billions of dollars each year finely tuning, promoting, and protecting their brands.
And yet, one of the most affordable tools for brand building is also one of the most overlooked. I’m talking, of course, about charitable giving. According to Charity Navigator, businesses only gave about 5% of all charitable donations in 2016. Sure, that’s up 3.5% over the previous year, but it’s teeny compared to individual giving, which was 72% of all giving in the same time period.
Charitable giving is, in my opinion, an untapped branding resource, and it’s one that’s not only for big companies. It demonstrates to customers, employees, and the general public, a company’s values, while having an overarching positive impact on the brand and the bottom line. And the good news is that charitable giving doesn’t have to just come in the form of dollars to have an impact (though it doesn’t hurt). Here are three ways companies can improve their brand using via philanthropy.
Make giving part of the company culture
I recently wrote about how companies can lower their recruiting costs by empowering employees to give charitably. This is an excellent first step to make giving part of the company culture. Another step is, of course, to provide actual dollars. It could be in the form of a “charity bonus” given to employees, specifically designed to be used in their own charitable giving. Or a company could match employee donations to their favorite charities (up to a certain amount, of course), a very common and traditional way for companies to be charitable. Or a company could, simply write a check. To get employees involved, some companies will make a donation to charities where employees volunteer or sit on the board. Whatever way a company decides to donate, it’s essential to make it part of the company culture in order to have an amplifying effect on the brand as well as the impact of the donations.
Offer products or services pro bono
With all the recent hurricanes, floods and wildfires, there seems to be no end to need for charitable giving in affected areas. While money is always helpful, it can take a while for those donations to have an impact. A more immediate way to help is to donate actual products or services to the people who need it most.
A great example of this is when Anheuser-Busch, the largest been company in the U.S., donated over 155,000 cans of water to residents in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Arlington, Texas. This simple gesture not only made for some good press and positive brand impressions, but it also directly helped people in need.
Be seen doing good
Charitable giving is often only associated with dollars, but it should also include a service component. Companies can turn this into a strong employee engagement program by creating a day of service event, where employees go into the community and volunteer. It could be a team building exercise to plant an urban garden, make and serve food at a homeless shelter, or help with a neighborhood cleanup. Some companies even donate money based on the amount of hours employees volunteer. By encouraging employees to participate in these types of events, companies can earn goodwill by being seen as active participants in the communities where they do business.
There are many other ways companies can improve their brand through charity, and Pinkaloo can help. Whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a mom-and-pop business with less than 10 employees, we offer an affordable solution for helping employees become more charitable. If you’re interested in finding out how, contact us to schedule a chat.