How philanthropy and social responsibility attract new loyal customers

When time is limited and resources are scanty, donating time, profit, equity, or product might seem like the last way to draw in new customers.

If it causes us to raise our prices, will our customers care whether or not we’re making responsible and sustainable choices?

Or do they just want it fast and cheap?

While it seems like there will always be a few holdouts, worshiping at the altar of Walmart with their don’t-care-if-I-have-to-replace-it-in-a-month, Earth-is-my-landfill attitude, they’re no longer the majority.

With local outreach and support accomplishing great things these days, integrating philanthropy into your company culture and operations pushes your brand above the fray.

How it looks from the outside

Beyond the act of giving, launching a philanthropy program and/or forming a public partnership with a non-profit or community organization allows you to re-introduce a better business to your customer base.

Recent statistics show that:

  • 59% of Americans are more likely to buy a product associated with a corporate–non-profit partnership, and
  • 85% of consumers have a more positive image of a business when it supports a cause they believe in.

Rather than focusing all marketing efforts solely on selling products and services, you can pepper in announcements of the work your team is doing in the community, thereby building a positive reaction to your brand and its ideals.

How it looks from the inside

Internally, employees perform 13-26% better when they are socially engaged. In fact, 60% of Millennials state that a sense of purpose factors heavily into their employer choice.

In February 2017, Fortune announced the 50 Best Workplaces for Giving Back. It’s no surprise that Salesforce earned the #1 spot.

Pledge 1% is an effort spearheaded by Atlassian, Rally, Salesforce, and Tides. As Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff pioneered a now-famous robust philanthropic model that, in 2014, he spun off as Pledge 1%. The non-profit now has more than 1300 pledges across 30 countries.

In a related piece, Fortune highlighted how employees respond to philanthropy as part of corporate culture:

Among 357,000 people surveyed for the list, those who had a positive experience of giving back at work were four times more likely to say their teams were willing to give extra to get the job done. They were also more likely to be brand ambassadors eager to express pride in their employers and to say they want to stay with their companies for a long time.

Particularly if you’re trying to attract Millennial talent and grow, adopting and promoting your social and environmental efforts will likely strengthen your team as a whole.

How you can take your measure

There’s no better time than now to announce your workplace commitment to making the world a better place.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Could you commit to an ongoing philanthropy program like the 1% Pledge?
  • Do you or any of your employees participate in charitable or community-building events? How can you incorporate those efforts into your philanthropy program?
  • Do you regularly make charitable donations or support local non-profit organizations?
  • Do you participate in telecommuting programs to conserve fuel?
  • Do you use temperature regulation strategies, such as closing the window drapes on cold winter nights and hot summer days, or opening windows rather than using air conditioning?
  • Do you unplug small appliances, equipment, and peripherals like printers when not in use or when you close for the night or weekend?
  • Do you offer filtered tap water rather than bottled water?
  • Do you recycle around the office – paper, toner, food and beverage containers, etc.? Do you use washable dishes instead of disposable ones?
  • Do you print duplex and in draft mode? Do you print stationery as needed yourselves rather than bulk-ordering pricey, non-recyclable paper?
  • Do you reuse packaging materials and donate what you cannot use?

The other 1%

As members of Pledge 1%, a global philanthropy movement to integrate giving into the DNA of companies of all sizes, we donate 1% of our time and our profit to Pets for Patriots, a non-profit organization that helps veterans and military members adopt the most overlooked shelter pets.

As the founder and director of a brand agency that serves a client base of socially impactful small businesses and non-profits, I recognize that these types of partnerships strengthen our ties with the community, build brand loyalty, and boost the engagement of our in-house team.

As a person, I wanted to work with a New York-based organization that addressed causes that motivate me to act: veterans affairs, mental health awareness (especially PTSD), and animal rights. Donating our 1% to them made perfect sense.

Not a fan of the idea of 1%? Check out Buy1Give1(B1G1), which allows you to create your own 1-for-1 giving model. For instance, when your store sells a product, a child is given access to pure drinking water.

How a CSR policy looks

Business owners can very easily adopt and publicize a plan to demonstrate to the public and their staff how they’re committed to the idea of a sustainable world.

You may even want to develop a formal Sustainability Policy to highlight how you’re working to use sustainable materials and practices, as well as encouraging such practices among others.

A Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Policy is a way in which a business monitors the public’s social perception of them as being responsible. The goal of social responsibility is to encourage the company’s actions toward the positive impact of consumer, community, and employee responsibility.

Business News Daily shares the following from Susan Hunt Stevens, founder and CEO of employee engagement platform WeSpire:

[CSR] often represents the policies, practices and initiatives a company commits to in order to govern themselves with honesty and transparency and have a positive impact on social and environmental wellbeing.

The article highlights the following areas, all of which may become part of your CSR policy:

  • Environmental efforts
  • Philanthropy
  • Ethical labor practices
  • Volunteering

If you’re really committed and have the proper structure in place, you might even pursue earning the coveted title of B Corp, a business designation for those that use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.

Not feeling all that formal? Joining a program like the 1% Pledge allows you to create buzz around your endeavors and build community.

And it feels pretty great to boot.

We are official Pledge 1% ambassadors!

If you are interested in or have questions about signing up – it’s super-easy – drop a comment below or email us at connect(at)

Management consultant and brand strategist for small teams. Fan of dark tea, thick books, peace, and unity.

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