By Nikki Carlson, co-founder/co-president of ChicExecs Retail and Strategy Firm. She has over 21 years’ experience in PR/marketing.
Corporate give-back initiatives are far from a new idea, but they’re one of the best ways to gain a competitive advantage in the market — all while making the world a better place. Not only do give-back programs support the work of charities, but they’re also great for employee engagement and business growth.
There are so many benefits of creating a give-back initiative at your company. According to one survey (registration required), 71% of employees say they want to work at a business that gives back. Plus, according to a 2016 report by Aflac, 61% of investors say charitable initiatives are a sign of an ethical (and less risky) business.
You know you want to partner with a charity, but where do you start? Follow these six steps to choose the right give-back initiative for your brand.
1. Start local.
There’s nothing wrong with partnering with a national or international charity, but sometimes it’s best to start local — especially if you have a small business. Partner with local children’s charities, food pantries and more to show you’re engaged in the local community.
P.S. This can be huge for local SEO! Backlinks from local organizations and businesses are very valuable for local search, so don’t overlook the power of partnering with local charities.
2. Partner with reputable charities.
Maybe you want to start a brand new charity of your own, or you want to support a little-known charity or cause. That’s all well and good, but to reap the PR benefits of this partnership, it’s a good idea to go with recognizable, reputable charities. If customers recognize the name of the charity you support, they’ll be more likely to support your partnership.
3. Choose a nonprofit that aligns with your brand.
It’s great if you want to support a nonprofit that provides mosquito nets to impoverished areas, but this needs to tie in with your brand’s story, product or mission. Otherwise, your customers will think, “What do mosquito nets have to do with body wash?”
As tempting as it is to partner with a cause you personally support, this give-back initiative needs to match your product, company identity and customer expectations. For example, if your main audience is women, you could partner with a charity that supports women’s education or maternal healthcare.
4. Vet the charity’s work.
Consult charity guides like GuideStar to make sure the nonprofit is a good steward of its resources. You should vet the nonprofit both before your partnership and annually so you know where your money is going. For example, if the charity spends your donations on fundraising events and not on the people they serve, it might be time to support a different charity.
5. Ask employees for their input.
If you want more employee engagement, make sure you choose a give-back initiative that your team is excited about. According to one survey (registration required), 31% of employees say they don’t volunteer or participate in their employer’s give-back programs because it isn’t for a cause they personally support.
After all, you aren’t in business by yourself. Ask your employees which causes they connect with the most. You can even send out a survey and have people anonymously vote for their favorite charities or causes.
You can also host give-back programs based on your employee’s experiences. For example, ChicExecs hosted a give-back initiative with Susan G. Komen when one of our team members went through cancer treatment. It made it much more meaningful to partner with an organization that already did so much for one of our own.
6. Choose a communicative, marketable charity.
Ideally, you should partner with a charity that’s marketable. If they have a large communications team, it means they have the resources to spread the word about your partnership. If the charity has a ready-made audience that’s receptive to messaging about your partnership, that’s a huge win for your PR, too!
You can also ask a nonprofit if they’re able to co-sponsor an event or co-create a product with you. This will help you get more mileage out of this give-back initiative, spreading the word to a larger audience for less effort.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, corporate give-back initiatives should make a difference in the world. PR is definitely a welcome side-effect of giving, but your main motivation should be to make positive change. Give-back initiatives are one of the many ways you can promote your business while doing a little bit of good in the world, but make sure you partner with the right charity. Follow these six tips to find the best give-back initiative for your brand.