There’s no question that philanthropy is a worthy endeavor for a business to pursue. Still, it’s not always a priority — especially when client demands keep leaders immersed in operating the company. Not to mention, supporting a cause usually involves a financial contribution, whether it’s a monetary donation, a gift of free products or services, or a promotional partnership.
But, let’s be clear: generosity comes full circle, so what you donate will come back to you. This is particularly true as the market evolves and we see younger millennials and Gen Z on the scene. These socially-minded generations want to spend their dollars with brands that align with their values. So, it’s no longer just about sharing your product or talent with followers; you now need to demonstrate how you’re giving back to your community.
Here are a few tips for ramping up your goodwill and spreading the message about your cause.
Select a cause you genuinely care to support.
When it comes to charity, most folks can see right through an inauthentic play for attention. Don’t tack your brand onto organizations or causes that you personally don’t care to support. If you do, you’ll find that you’re less motivated to make an impact, and your inattention will be transparent for all. Philanthropy is about action, not lip service.
Of course, you also need to consider whether your ideal clients will connect with the cause as well. For example, you may be a big fan of seals, but a Save-the-Seal program may not be as widely applauded as a cause such as LGBTQ+ rights advocacy that could have a greater impact on more people. Before contributing anything, confirm that the organization is legitimate on CharityNavigator.org. This site provides unbiased evaluations of non-profits based on financial health, accountability, and transparency.
Look beyond direct monetary donations.
You have a lot of charitable opportunities at your disposal! While financial contributions may be an easy solution, consider getting your hands dirty and investing your time and energy for one of your chosen causes. I recommend event pros to take on at least one pro bono event each year.
Whether you’re a planner, venue, photographer, florist, or other event pro, you have a service that is sought after by non-profits that host fundraisers, galas, and other large-scale celebrations. By contributing your services, you can give them far more than a paper check. You can help them to elevate their events, draw in more interest to the cause, and boost fundraising and marketing efforts simply by donating your professional time and talent.
Put the word out to your followers.
A big part of corporate philanthropy is being loud and proud about your efforts! Not only does it tell your audience that you’re committed to a cause (that ideally aligns with their values), but it also educates and encourages your followers to get involved as well. Integrate your philanthropic endeavors into your social media and website content organically. Tell your clients and colleagues about what your go-to organizations do to make a difference. Simply put, become a brand ambassador for your cause!
Beyond your direct association with an organization, educate yourself about the cause so it can become a consistent part of your marketing. For example, suppose you promote your contributions to the LGBTQ+ community only in June for Pride Month, or you only share Black Lives Matter support when a tragedy happens. In that case, your followers will see that your efforts are merely performative.
No matter how large or small, your business has a platform, and it’s your responsibility as a leader to use your space as a channel to share about causes that are near and dear to your heart. In all ways, we are better together than alone — so harness the power of community and do what you can to give back to the causes you care about most.
Brittny Drye is the founder and editor-in-chief of Love Inc., one of the leading equality-minded wedding blog and digital publications. Her inclusive efforts have been celebrated by the New York Times, The Advocate, OUT Magazine, Refinery29, NY Daily News, Cosmopolitan, and more. She served on the 2018-19 North American Advisory Board for the International Academy of Wedding & Events.