During this time of deep societal shifts and growing consciousness about political, social and environmental issues, corporations have been trying to reconcile the paradox of whether capitalism and social consciousness can co-exist. In January 2018, Laurence D. Fink of BlackRock sent an open letter to CEOs letting them know that BlackRock will no longer support them unless they start contributing to society. When this happened the paradox was eliminated, and the sense of urgency for corporations to launch meaningful strategies to address social issues was ignited. The message was clear: to survive in business in the 21st century businesses must strive to connect cause, meaning and purpose. Additional data from multiple sources supports this new business imperative:
- 81% of millennials expect their favorite brands to make a public declaration of corporate citizenship.
- In 2015 Nielsen reported that 66% of consumers are willing to spend more on a product if the brand is perceived as being socially conscious
- Cone Communications found that more than 9 in 10 millennials are willing to switch brands if the new one is associated with a cause
Ignoring the demands of the world’s largest investors as well as consumers that have over 300 billion dollars in annual spending power is not a move most brands can afford to risk. The problem is that this same set of consumers also perceive cause marketing efforts as inauthentic, and they are skeptical about corporate social good efforts. The good news is that many brand marketers have found a solution that works. Crowdfunding technology offers a great option to increase impact from philanthropy dollars, and it helps brands create an authentic cause connection. Three tried and true crowdfunding strategies that can be implemented by corporations looking to launch cause marketing programs are:
- Rewards and Experiences: It is no secret that millennials value experiences more than material items. With crowdfunding a VIP experience or unique brand related reward can be offered to fundraisers that participate in a challenge, share on social media or get a certain amount of donations. This strategy generates excitement around the cause connection, and it helps the brand benefit from the “halo effect” (gained via social media impressions and partnerships.) A genuine connection can be created by delivering an experience that is aligned with the brand’s core principles.
- Multi Charity Challenges: Many corporations have generous grant programs. Multi Charity challenges are the perfect opportunity to engage grant beneficiaries and amplify the impact of grant dollars with crowdfunding. Multi-charity challenges can be delivered in the form of virtual fitness events, straightforward fundraising challenges or crowdfunding hubs around a specific area of interest. The brand benefits from the social media impressions that result from organic shares as well as from connecting clients with causes they care about.
- Empower individual Change Agents: Crowdfunding enables individuals to connect with the causes they care about while having an impact that goes beyond just donating their money. With crowdfunding individuals can donate their voice, network and time to the causes they care about. You can empower your customers and other stakeholders by providing them with the technology they need to connect with the causes they care about most. And/or you can leverage social media influencers to fundraise on behalf of your partner organizations (while helping you spread the word of the social good your brand is doing.)
Keep in mind that cause marketing strategies need to be delivered in a way that feels authentic, and that it is true to your brand voice and principles. Regardless of the strategy you choose, keep in mind the following “must haves” when deploying a cause marketing strategy driven by crowdfunding technology:
- Technology: Use the best in-class technology designed to be scalable, simple to use and seamlessly integrated with your brand
- Data: Ensure that you can capture data insights to understand what your customers care about, and have a strategy to leverage that data for future engagement with your brand
- Storytelling: Leverage crowdfunding strategies to share stories of your social good with all your stakeholders: investors, customers and employees. The content is authentic and produced in real time.
Consumers wouldn’t care if 74% of brands in the world disappeared tomorrow. Ensuring your brand stays resilient by connecting consumers to your ‘why’ while outperforming your counterparts by up to 400% sounds like a value proposition worth getting behind. Don’t wait until it is too late.
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