As companies grow, the amount of support they offer to the communities around them should grow, too. There are many ways for companies to give back, from engaging employees in cause initiatives, donating to a charity, starting a foundation, or donating a percentage of their revenue. (You can find a full list of the types of cause marketing campaigns here).
But once a company decides that they want to give back in a meaningful way through cause marketing, the question becomes: How do you find the right cause for your business to support? At Refuel Agency, we’ve been executing successful cause marketing campaigns with brands and agencies across sectors for 30 years. Here are our top tips to find the right cause for your brand to support.
Why support a cause as a business?
Cause marketing is here to stay. Consumers see their purchasing choices as an extension of their values and beliefs. If your company fails to stand up for what they believe or worse, engages in unsustainable or unethical practices, you will lose brand loyalty fast.
However, supporting a cause without any alignment is unsustainable, and doing it simply for quick publicity is greenwashing and unethical. So choosing a cause that truly aligns with your company and where you can make a real, long-term impact is critical. Your support could come in many forms, from financial contributions, awareness campaigns, or donation of your products, services, or technology. The key is that you build something that works.
1. Refer to your mission statement
Your mission statement exists for a reason—it’s a compass to guide your company’s path forward. And as such, it’s a good place to start when you’re looking for a cause to support. It will help you determine what you believe and what is at the core of your company. Linking the cause you choose to support to your corporate identity makes it more inspiring internally and authentic both internally and externally.
2. Look locally
Have you heard of compassion fatigue? Thanks to the rapid availability of information, consumers are constantly bombarded with information about problems they couldn’t possibly solve—and it causes fatigue.
But the antidote to broadscale compassion fatigue is to zoom in, on smaller-scale, local problems that you can help to solve. Supporting your local community shows those around you that you really care, builds genuine relationships, gives everyone a sense of ownership, and allows people to truly experience compassion. You will also have an easier time identifying, vetting, and involving your company in an organization that is close to where you are.
3. Ask your people
On a similar note, there’s nowhere better to find a cause to support than to look within. Most likely, many of your team members have causes close to their hearts that they actively follow and support.
So poll your team and get them involved. Aligning with the passions of your people helps to not only support a good cause, but it helps employees to experience a sense of ownership, as well. Employees feel motivated when their company believes what they believe.
4. Do the research
Before you fully commit to investing in a cause or nonprofit, do your due diligence to fully understand what this investment will mean and that you’re spending your money wisely. Overall, you’re looking for an organization that is transparent, accountable, and committed. Then, you want to understand what percentage of your donations will be going directly to the cause and decide if you’re comfortable with the split.
Once you have completed this due diligence with your shortlist of organizations, you can create a budget for your cause initiatives and trust your chosen organization to spend your donations wisely.
5. Spend a day volunteering
You can do all the research in the world, but there’s no substitute for the genuine connection achieved through on-the-ground experience. To get this, spend a day volunteering with one or more organizations.
This allows you to meet the staff, the other volunteers, and get a sense of how everything works and the impact being made. You will be able to ask some questions you may have, and through the experience, gain a personal connection to the cause.
At the end of the day, if you’re investing time, money, and resources into a cause, you should feel moved by it. You will do much better and long-lasting work for a charity you are emotionally connected to and that you believe in than one you’ve never really experienced or only support half-heartedly.