Corporate Philanthropy as a Business Driver: 2019 Trends and Tactics

Traditionally, the landscape has focused on strategic marketing, specifically on the three Ps: product, pricing and positioning. Those pillars have helped companies increase their awareness and close sales.

But the corporate competitive landscape is shifting. The three Ps are making room for new strategic drivers, the three Cs: collars, customers, and community. While the three Ps are still critically important, the three Cs are influencing how companies operate internally, interact with external audiences, and differentiate their products and services.

Both the three Cs and the three Ps are influenced by corporate philanthropy, a trend that will escalate in 2019 as workplace giving becomes an even more important business driver.

The most successful companies in the marketplace have already recognized the importance of corporate philanthropy. They use it as a tool in their overarching business strategy, orienting their perspective toward effectively competing not just today, but well into the future. As we’ve seen companies adjust their tactics to set themselves up for the future market, we’ve come across five major themes and competitive arenas where corporate philanthropy’s influence is influencing the three Cs and becoming critically important to businesses.

2019 Corporate Philanthropy Themes and Competitive Arenas

The Corporate Talent War

What I like to call the Battle for Collars, the corporate talent war is the competition employers are now facing to attract and retain highly skilled, highly effective employees.

The battle springs from an increasingly diverse and employee-powered market. Take the traditional idea of collars. In the past, American workers were defined in two broad categories: blue collar or white collar. Now collars come in many forms. We still have the traditional blue and white collar workers, but more and more employees are making their own designations – zippered, casual t-shirts, and those that don’t identify with collars at all. Employees and their preferences are more diverse today than they were in the past because, today, the balance of power has shifted from companies to employees.

It was near the end of 2018 that the employee-centric marketplace became undeniable. The American unemployment rate dropped to its lowest in nearly 50 years, 3.7 percent, with average hourly earnings up 2.8 percent from the year prior¹. Employees are making their own rules because they have more choice in employers. Today’s most talented workers can easily switch to a competitor with similar or better compensation.

That’s good news for workers, but a challenge for businesses. To improve performance, companies need to attract and retain that top talent – and traditional benefits don’t cut it anymore.

This is where corporate philanthropy enters the mix. Over half of employees won’t work for a company that isn’t responsible², and engaging current employees in corporate responsibility (CR) initiatives halves turnover³. With corporate philanthropy and CR initiatives like volunteering and employee giving campaigns, companies can compete for new talent and retain the skilled workers they already have.

What Givinga is Doing
Most companies offer standard benefits including competitive compensation, retirement plans, and PTO. To help businesses compete with similar offerings from competitors, we’re helping companies add an additional, differentiating employee benefit at scale: charitable giving.

Givinga’s workplace giving software allows employees to create their own personal giving accounts, choose the charities they want to support, easily request a matching gift from your company, and raise funds from family and friends. Employees can add their own funds to Flexible Giving Accounts and link together with other employees around shared causes, so working at your company doesn’t just pay the bills, it makes an impact on the community and empowers employees to be influences of that impact.

Flexible Giving Accounts provide empowerment with control, giving employees complete flexibility and access while allowing companies to retain control of their giving pools. And, to further improve efficacy, we’ve created custom-designed giving platforms that allow companies to create and manage programs that are tailor made to their specific employee demographic. We take a consultative approach, instead of the easy way out with “plug, play, and manage” solutions that are a volume game to make more sales.

More importantly, we believe corporate philanthropy shouldn’t just be a differentiator for big businesses with big budgets. Our platform can handle everything from Fortune 100 companies to businesses with only 5-100 employees. The more we enable corporate philanthropy, the most successful our businesses and our causes will be.

Employee Influence

Employee advocacy programs can drive 16 percent better win rates, twice the sales pipeline, and 48 percent larger deals 4. Your employees’ social posts generate eight times more engagement than your branded social posts5.

Sales and marketing teams aren’t the only ones driving your sales and revenue. They never have been. Everyday employees, from customer service to operations, are influencing competitive position and business success.

Employees directly impact customer perception and can be a huge competitive advantage for your organization. Businesses need to create employee advocates (ambassadors) who regularly spread the word about your business and its benefits.

What Givinga is Doing
Creating employee controlled giving accounts and providing social philanthropy tools makes it easier for staff to advocate for your company’s causes – both of which tie into employee advocacy and brand awareness and reputation.

Flexible Giving Accounts allow you to give through your employees while maintaining control and oversight, creating empowerment as well as a wealth effect. We designed our platform specifically to provide these effects, centralizing giving and tracking donations. Employees can create a personal giving strategy, while your company can review total philanthropic impact (TPI). The result is a sharable, promotable way to demonstrate your company’s corporate citizenship to the marketplace.

Download Givinga360 Overview

Aligning, Supporting, and Projecting into the Community

“When business interests and values conflict, values are the dominant variable.”6. Harvard Business Review’s 2018 quote accurately captures the importance of corporate responsibility, but it misses the fact that business interests and values are typically closely aligned. Business values can and should positively impact business interests and performance.

That reality becomes clearer in the Edelman’s 2018 Earned Brand report. Edelman found that over half of consumers are belief-driven buyers who will select a product, switch brands, avoid purchasing, or even boycott a company based on its stand on societal issues7. For businesses, that means that becoming a strong corporate citizen can not only improve reputation, it can also directly impact sales and performance.

Brands need to align their businesses with community needs, projecting corporate philanthropy into the market to strengthen their position.

What Givinga is Doing
This is another area where employee ambassadors can make an impact. Using Givinga’s Flexible Giving Accounts to empower employee ambassadors to support the causes they care about most in the community (or across the nation) will help you broaden your philanthropic scope so you can clearly demonstrate your philanthropy to the community.

We also provide social giving tools so companies and employees can get the community involved in corporate philanthropy programs. Employees can plan and launch their own crowdfunding campaigns for important causes, maximizing their reach and impact. The more employees get involved and encourage their personal communities to get involved as well, the more brand power your business will have.

All activity, across all types of corporate giving, is tracked and reported on in a centralized platform, so your company can determine impact and use it to improve brand position and competitiveness.

The Battle for the Informed Consumer

Looking back on 2018, we saw a distinct increase in the need for product and service differentiation. Red oceans and increasing competition between high quality, affordable products have made it essential for businesses to find new ways to set themselves apart and appeal to well-educated consumers.

That’s a distinct change from the past market. Previously, the battle for consumers revolved around pricing. New age consumers, however, are looking for goods and services from socially responsible customers. Last year, 59 percent of consumers purchased goods or services from a socially responsible company and 32 percent of Americans plan to spend more with socially responsible companies in 20198.

Being socially responsible through corporate philanthropy like charitable giving and volunteering, is now one of the best ways to differentiate your brand when features and quality alone can’t.

What Givinga is Doing
While big businesses are already in the giving game, we make it possible for small and medium sized businesses to compete with the behemoths. We provide affordable, customizable tools for making corporate donations to legally vetted charities while empowering employees to get involved with the causes they care about.

Social giving tools like crowdfunding come into play here as well, helping your company and your employees increase their giving footprint and “play bigger” to compete with big businesses.

Furthermore, we provide reporting and impact projection tools. Reporting tools are key to competing for customers, because research shows nearly half of consumers are skeptical when companies claim to support causes9. Use Givinga’s reporting tools to demonstrate your impact, providing proof of your commitment. Coupled with social giving that gets your community actively involved in your corporate philanthropy efforts, you’ll be well-positioned to overcome initial skepticism and win over consumers.

Demonstrating Business Impact

Consumers want to see how your corporate philanthropy program is making a positive impact on the world around them. Your internal and external stakeholders want to see how your corporate philanthropy program is making a positive impact on business performance.

But even companies that have had corporate philanthropy programs for years struggle to empower employees and show business impact. Instead, most of today’s corporate philanthropy initiatives solicit employees to give to a single cause chosen by headquarters, and they have not been able to show a demonstrable impact on the business. That’s led to nearly three-quarters of companies saying that the most important way to improve impact measurement is to measure ROI metrics that affect brand, consumers, and employees10.

Small, medium, and large businesses all have a major opportunity to empower employees in 2019 and help all stakeholders – including business partners, C-Suite peers, employees, and consumers – see the impact of corporate philanthropy.

What Givinga is Doing
At Givinga, we believe that corporate giving is part of your larger business strategy. It shouldn’t be compartmentalized or cordoned off as a necessary cost center. It should be integrated with your current processes, future goals, and company mission.

We’ve developed a custom process that helps integrate your corporate giving tools and techniques with your business strategy. Givinga360 ties all your giving activity back to measurable business objectives like employee engagement, philanthropic impact, and even sales. The entire process is designed to customize your solution and give you the tools you need to measure ROI in the metrics that matter most to your business and its goals.

Track How Corporate Philanthropy is Affecting Your Business

Corporate philanthropy isn’t the only component that will affect your business this year, but it is a major player. It’s a key source of company, product, and service differentiation, as well as a factor in whether job seekers choose to work with your business.

For big businesses with established giving programs, now is the time to reevaluate tools and impact. Is your program engaging employees? Do they participate regularly? Do they even know about it? And, more importantly, how is your corporate philanthropy program driving market changes and competitive position? If your answers to these questions aren’t positive, you need to revamp your program so it’s more effective. Do this now, before you lose your early player advantage.

For many small and medium businesses, it’s prime time to get involved for the first time. Your demographic may have been underserved in the past, and you might not have had the resources to get involved on your own, but the corporate philanthropy arena is becoming more accessible. Corporate responsibility software can now be tailored to your needs, with flexible budgets and tools that help you compete with those who have been involved for far longer.

All businesses, regardless of size, should start benchmarking immediately. Where is your business at now? What are your KPIs in terms of employee engagement, sales, and brand awareness? Those are the KPIs that will change as you optimize (or implement) a corporate philanthropy program that’s designed to get results.

Download Givinga360 Overview


Resources:

1 https://www.npr.org/2018/10/05/654417887/u-s-unemployment-rate-drops-to-3-7-percent-lowest-in-nearly-50-years
2 http://www.conecomm.com/research-blog/2016-employee-engagement-study
3 https://www.satellinstitute.org/study-reveals-companies-engaged-in-csr-can-reduce-staff-turnover-rates-by-50/
4 https://everyonesocial.com/sales/
5 https://blogs.cisco.com/socialmedia/employee-advocacy-marketing-engine-of-the-future
6 https://hbr.org/2018/10/when-ceos-should-speak-up-on-polarizing-issues
7 https://www.edelman.com/sites/g/files/aatuss191/files/2018-10/2018_Edelman_Earned_Brand_Global_Report.pdf
8 http://www.goodmustgrow.com/ccsindex/downloads/GMG_2018_CCSIndex.pdf
9 https://www.cmo.com/features/articles/2017/6/2/do-genuine-good-and-reap-the-rewards.html#gs.C499cgSo
10 http://cecp.co/cecps-annual-trends-report/

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