Picking the right cause for your business
Consumer demand for and potential business return on investment (ROI) from cause-driven commitments are now well documented – it is not a question of why engage in social and environmental causes, but how to pick a cause that is right for your business to support.
Whether your company is considering a philanthropic gift or a long-term corporate responsibility program, picking the right cause should be the result of due diligence and research in these three areas:
Start by identifying what the business is best at. By aligning the cause to a core competency, your employees and existing operations can be leveraged as assets to support the cause. This allows the business to consider other non-monetary contributions, such as skills-based volunteering and in-kind training, to support the cause.
PepsiCo deployed members of their PepsiCorp program to support Gleaners and Forgotten Harvest on separate projects aimed at leveraging PepsiCo’s logistics expertise to affordably and efficiently distribute food to under-served areas of Metro Detroit.
Understanding potential business risks can help the company identify a cause that delivers both a risk management solutions and a positive impact for the community where it operates – creating win-win results.
Starbuck faced high employee turnover rates (between 150-400% is the industry average) among its part-time staff which impacts business continuity and quality of service. By focusing on employee benefits and healthcare policy, Starbucks has seen an impressive drop in turnover to just 65%.
Engage with stakeholders, both internal and external, to ascertain their expectations of your business. By fostering dialogue with a variety of representative voices, such as industry associations, local nonprofits, customers and staff, you are able to capture and understand what stakeholders expect from your community engagement.
Comcast developed a low-cost internet program to comply with regulatory requirement, but decided to keep the program long after the regulation expired because many low-income families came to depend on the program for service they otherwise would not be able to afford.
The final step, once all three elements have been considered, is finding alignment – a common cause that connects all three interests. A cause that is important to the business and important to your stakeholders will be more authentic, which consumers expect, and more strategic, which can support business performance.
At the intersection of these areas is an incredible opportunity for your business to commit to a cause that is uniquely right for you.