Giving back used to be the thing only non-profits, religious groups, and schools took part in. But now it has built its way into the corporate world. This is in large part thanks to the vast majority of consumers who reveal they want to buy from companies that are giving back, that are mission-driven and supporting a cause.
No business should have to give back. It needs to come from an authentic desire to support and help others. Not a sense of obligation or another box to be checked on the startup to-do list. I believe if you do choose to give, you often get in exponential return. The support and feedback my business received when we launched our mission and giving back programs were amazing. To say we saw leaps in customer commitments would be an understatement.
This wasn't the result of a haphazard draw from a hat to choose a charity. In order to give back with value, it must be something that not only builds your brand but is attached to your audience's intimate emotions and passions.
Don't feel limited here. When it comes time to find a social element to bind to your business, there are three channels to consider.
1. Align it with your business mission.
Look to your business mission, the reason you have this business in the first place, and find an emotion, idea, or purpose you can align to a cause. One way to look at this is to consider what emotion your business brings to life. Then, connect with a cause that bolsters the emotion.
For my business, it has been about creating happiness in the small moments of life. Our mission to inspire happiness is not only part of our story, but part of our efforts in giving back.
We built the Stay Grounded Community Fund, a program donating a portion of product sales to the MakeAWish Foundation to help children with chronic disease to find happiness through their pain. Happiness is a vehicle that can fuel a better world, and we work to have our product bring happiness to others. Not only do we share this on our website and media outlets but it is part of the product. Within the unboxing experience, we share a product pamphlet that tells the story of how the product was made sustainably and how their purchase is helping others.
2. Connect it through your product.
Build a connection through the product you are selling within your audience's preferences. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers. Really connect with their main purpose and why they may use your product.
Think about it like this. If you are a baby product company, it is safe to assume most of your consumers are newborn mothers. Their livelihood is currently centered around being a mom and keeping their babies safe. An emotional connection to them would be a baby in need of medical help, or perhaps a mother unable to get pregnant and experience the joy of motherhood for themselves. For the company this could look like donating a portion of sales to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund or Operation Shower.
You wouldn't necessarily support a children's foundation if you are selling luxury watches, or an ocean preservation foundation if you're a local bookstore in Nebraska. Keet your cause connected to your product and your target audiences' interests as much as possible in order to capture attention. Allow the cause to build your brand and purpose, not derail it.
3. Turn to your supply chain.
Investing in a supply chain cause is one of the most sustainable and responsible ways to give back. You will be giving back in multiple ways by creating a product that is manufactured, moved, and stored responsibly.
My business has a monthly coffee club where we source beans from various farms and manufacturers. This supply chain trail has a great deal of opportunity to spark change. It not only offers our consumers an ethically sourced product but also provides a demand for local farmers' products.
I conducted a deep dive search all around the globe for organic Fair and Direct Trade coffee roasters, and began an interview process to understand their operation. It was tedious, but we ended up partnering with some of the most unique family-owned farms that produce micro-lots.
Making the decision to give back may be an upfront investment and an initial profit share. But in order for your business to succeed in the long run, you need to be a part of social causes. It will help your business's image and give your customers the opportunity to be supportive.
Let's be honest; it's also the right thing to do.