Posts Tagged ‘corporate giving’

A new kind of speed: From zero to favorability in under 40 strategies


The Zenvo ST1 is among the fastest cars in the world and can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in under three seconds. Among the slowest is the MIA Electric, reaching 60 miles per hour in a blistering 30 seconds. The poorly named Peel P50—because there’s no chance of ever peeling your tires due to excessive speed—can’t even reach 60 miles per hour.

While the idea of any kind of speed—car or otherwise—is thrilling in today’s fast-paced world, what really gets Joe Waters’ heart pounding is far more enduring than five to 30 seconds. Waters’ finish line is favorability. He can go from zero to favorability in under 40 strategies. In fact, if you choose only one of his cause marketing strategies from his latest book, Fundraising with Businesses, you’ll engage your business partner and nonprofit community more meaningfully and productively than you ever might have just holding out your hand.

Peel P50

Nonprofits must embrace the fact that companies are beginning to part ways with traditional philanthropy and gravitating toward opportunities where they can blend profit with purpose. Rather than simply writing a check, companies want to embed their giving into the purchasing experience through programs like point-of-sale that include donation boxes, register fundraisers, pinups and round-up fundraisers.  “Smart businesses of all sizes are listening to consumers. Their reward is a competitive edge that goes beyond product and price. Although most forms of marketing are about visibility, cause marketing generates favorability,” says Waters.

Why is favorability such a worthy goal? Because it transcends the awareness that most traditional marketing efforts accomplish. When a community favors you and your corporate partner as a result of cause marketing, people act on that favoritism in a variety of ways to support you.

We interviewed Joe Waters live via webcast earlier this year, and I wanted to share one of the sound bites with you. In this clip below, he provides listeners with the best way to approach businesses about a partnership.

Clip: Joe Waters’ Advice on the Best Way to Approach Bus

Fundraising with Businesses provides case stories, essential mechanics, helpful reminders and online examples to help you spot adaptable ideas you can customize for your organization. What’s more, the book’s final chapter shares seven steps for success to spur you into action when you close the cover.

Nonprofits willing to get creative and identify businesses that want to engage their employees and customers in doing good have much more to gain than charities that look at a list of companies for a check. Happy listening and may you reach favorability with great speed.

See also:

Cause Marketing for Nonprofits

Breakthrough Nonprofit Branding

Marketing Series I: Building a Persuasive Case, Seven Transformative Branding Principles, Multi-faceted Strategies and Bonding with Brands for Life

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7 ways companies will change how they invest in you

According to Credit Suisse’s latest Global Wealth report, Americans’ median net worth is just $44,900 per adult, placing the U.S. in 19th place behind Japan, Canada, Australia and much of Western Europe. An interesting statistic when you consider the level of individual philanthropy in the U.S. as compared with other countries. While individual giving is king in most funding mixes, it still pays to keep an eye on the donations coming in from businesses to your organization—especially in light of recent developments.

As corporate social responsibility evolves, businesses are questioning if traditional philanthropic giving is an antiquated expense line. Today, stakeholders and investors expect more integrated methods for tying social impact to core business activities. While this Executives have started to ask how their companies can stop giving money away and getting nothing in return is a worthwhile endeavor, many companies are finding the reality of cutting ties with charitable giving easier said than done.

According to Paul Klein, founder and president of Impakt, “Executives have started to ask how their companies can stop giving money away and getting nothing in return, but putting an end to corporate philanthropy isn’t easy. The reputational risk of leaving worthy charitable organizations out in the cold is considerable, making leaders reluctant to take decisive action. However, new approaches are possible, since the end of giving for nothing may not be far away.”

It’s also worth noting the latest data from The National Philanthropic Trust: giving among U.S. corporations accounted for only five percent of total giving to charities in 2011. This underwhelming statistic seems to support the lack of enthusiasm Klein has observed in his work with corporations.

In contrast, what continues to capture the hearts, minds and bottom lines of companies are partnerships that directly connect to the business’s existing business model. What’s more, according to the 2010 Cone Cause Evolution Study, 90 percent of consumers want companies to tell them the ways they are supporting causes. Eighty-three percent of Americans wish more of the products, services and retailers they use would support causes. While the end of philanthropy may be coming, businesses recognize consumer opinion and the need to do a better job of blending profit with purpose.

Klein has developed seven strategies at Impakt to help businesses phase out philanthropy and begin to embed social impact in their core business strategies. I’ve listed Klein’s recommendations here:

1. Develop a five-year exit strategy. Almost every large corporation supports at least one large charity in a significant way. In these cases, it’s important to identify a social objective that can be achieved over five years and allocate financial and other resources towards that objective on a diminishing basis. When the social objective has been achieved, the charity will no longer require support.

2. Begin investing in social change in other ways. “Charitable organizations don’t have a monopoly on social change, and sometimes social enterprises and other businesses can achieve better results.” If social change is important to your business, you should understand the strengths and weaknesses of all the players and start to reallocate charitable dollars toward organizations that deliver the most value, regardless of their sectors.

3. Focus on opportunities that can deliver return on investment. Pure philanthropy has virtually no business value. It’s altruistic and intended to help charities in ways that can’t be measured. Corporations can start shifting philanthropic spending toward social investments that have the potential of creating ROI. That might mean, for example, making a loan to someone with little or no credit to help start a business.

4. Stop funding charitable initiatives that don’t get results. Even without conducting a formal evaluation, you likely already know which organizations aren’t performing. Stop supporting those groups in 2015. Then take a year to reduce or eliminate funding for other organizations that may be of more value but aren’t the right partners for your business. During the transition, provide funding for capacity building to help organizations become more sustainable without your support.

5. Move CSR to finance or operations. Doing so is anathema to CSR managers (most of whom report to marketing or H.R.), but it will increase accountability, ensure business programs that have social value are resourced properly, and support the strategy for exiting out of donations. The transition will be difficult but the results will be better.

6. Focus on value. Start asking how you can give or invest less while bringing about greater social change. This is a standard question for businesses but it’s rarely posed to charities. Organizations that can help you answer it will be worthy of continued support.

7. Embed social change in your business. Financial institutions should find new ways to give vulnerable people access to capital. Companies in extractive industries such as mining or oil and gas should put a high priority on adding more indigenous suppliers and employees. Car companies should focus on sustainable transportation. Pharmaceutical companies need to create new revenue models that focus on preventing illness.

Klein’s recommendations may be alarming if you’re a nonprofit that has a large focus on traditional corporate giving; however, his thoughts are a sound warning that your strategies must attain new levels of ROI. Joe Waters, author of Fundraising with Businesses, says asking companies to simply write a check is tired. Nonprofits need to get creative and look for ways to engage employees and customers while impacting the business’s bottom line. These partnerships will always be easy to justify and renew in the finance department where Klein recommends they be managed.

At Execute Now!, we advise clients on a myriad of financial areas relating to corporate social responsibility. We create financial scenarios for nonprofit clients interested in weighing their options among potential partnerships. We also provide forecasting for various types of funding based on their dependability. Finally, we shed light on what a business partner will be looking for in the finance/operations departments to optimize reporting.

Personally, I found Klein’s use of the phrase, “giving for nothing,” a disappointing representation of the corporate perspective he’s working with today. On the other hand, nonprofits looking for the positive note in his seven strategies should focus on how each tactic informs how charities must aspire to work with companies if they choose to keep them in the funding mix.

See also:

Fundraising with Businesses

Cash Flow Strategies

Zilch: The Power of Zero in Business

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Waters’ new book gives you license to steal

“To be successful in anything you need inspiration. It’s what drives us to keep pushing and excelling. Without it you just hit a dead end. You stop learning and exploring,” explains cause marketing author Joe Waters.

Joe Waters recently inspired us with his new book Fundraising with Businesses: 40 New and Improved Strategies for Nonprofits, which tells a great success story in each of his 40 chapters dedicated to a revenue strategy with companies. I’ve excerpted one of his stories to give you inspiration and glimpse of Waters’ numerous featured partnerships:

Hashtag fundraiser

Over the holidays in 2012, global supermarket chain Lidl offered to donate five four-course Christmas dinners to food banks in Belgium for each tweet with the hashtag #luxevooriedereen, which is Dutch for “luxury for everyone.” The campaign went viral and spread rapidly on Twitter. While Lidl had privately committed to only 1,000 meals, they graciously increased their donation to 10,000 meals.

License to steal!

Waters advises you that when your nonprofit uses hashtag fundraisers and social media in general, you have to plan for the unexpected and be clear on your donation. After Waters explores the case story, some of the meaty sections that follow are “How it Works in 1-2-3,” “Things to Remember,” and “Steal These Ideas!” Who wouldn’t want to read a section called “Steal These Ideas!”? Brilliant.

Too big, too small or just right?

Despite the fact that cause marketing has been in existence since the early 1980s, author Joe Waters is still surprised by the amount of confusion surrounding this idea. Additionally, smaller nonprofits that represent the bulk of our sector are misdiagnosing why great cause marketing partnerships are passing them by and going to the bigger nonprofits. Too often, smaller charities approach businesses for cash gifts when they could be leveraging much more if they are willing to get creative.

“Just because you’re small doesn’t mean you have to think small,” says Waters. He asks, “What if the business is new or struggling?” Does your strategy account for the other assets the business may bring to the table if it can’t write a check? Or, if the company does have money to give, can you see beyond the check and realize the enormous amount of possible donations from customers and employees through an innovative campaign?

Welcome pieces of advice

Each of Waters’ chapters are further bolstered by advice boxes where Waters shares best practices in areas such as “Three Types of Decision Makers,” “Four Ways to Turn Unwanted Gifts Into Nonprofit Gold,” or “Ten Fundraising Ideas for B2B [Business to Business] Companies.”

I encourage you to indulge in a little guilt-free stealing and experiment with Waters’ Fundraising with Businesses. Your bottom line won’t be sorry.

See also:

The End of Fundraising: Raise More by Selling Your Impact

How to Write Fundraising Materials that Raise More Money

The Influential Fundraiser

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Four things you need to know before pitching a corporate partner

This post first appeared on Katya Andresen’s site,

When a company contributes to your cause, how does it affect how people feel about the company? If you’re a nonprofit, it’s important to be able to answer this question. Why? Because most companies have twin agendas when they support a cause: doing good and doing well. The longest-standing partnerships are those that not only provide value to the nonprofit but also to the company’s philanthropic AND business agendas. If you want to engage corporate partners, it’s important to understand both.

So, I’m going to share some interesting new research on how corporate social responsibility (CSR) and cause marketing can do that. Consider it useful fodder for your corporate partnership pitches.

First, let me share the basics that are well known in research. CSR can create a brand halo for a company. It makes consumers more likely to view the company as likeable and trustworthy. It might inspire brand loyalty. And if price and quality are considered comparable, a consumer might be more likely to choose a socially responsible company’s product over the competition. All good reasons for a company to support your cause.

But how does a company’s social responsibility affect how consumers actually view its products? Do consumers think the products are better if the company is invested in good causes? This has been a question with frustratingly few answers over the years. Some past research has suggested that the more active a company is in social responsibility, the more consumers might question product performance. For example: is that chemical-free counter cleaner from that tree-hugging corporation really going to work? Consumers may think not.

So it’s exciting that a new set of studies from Alexander Chernev and Sean Blair of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University tackle the specific issue of how CSR influences the way products are perceived. Their paper, “Doing Well by Doing Good: The Benevolent Halo of Social Goodwill” describes several studies that led to four conclusions by the researchers.

1) To consumers, good company = good product

The first big finding is that when consumers think a company is socially responsible, they are more inclined to view the product as better than others. The study described in the Chernev and Blair paper describes a winery that donated a portion of proceeds to charity. People who knew this act of good perceived the wine as superior. So CSR can enhance perceived product performance! But read on–it’s critical that it is the COMPANY, not necessarily the product, that be viewed as socially “good.”

2) Consumer mindset dictates when “good” matters

In research with a hypothetical running shoe, consumers were more likely to feel the product was better because of the company’s CSR if they were in an abstract rather than concrete mindset. The researchers got consumers to think abstractly by asking why they exercised. They got a separate group of people to think concretely by focusing them on how they exercise. When people were focused on the “why,” they were more influenced by the social good of the company. This finding is in line with fundraising research, which shows people are more generous when in an emotional mindset.

3) A socially responsible company trumps socially responsible product

Here’s the most surprising finding: a socially responsible company may drive more business than a socially responsible product. People feel better about a product that is created by a company that donates to green causes than a company that created a product with environmentally friendly technology. The researchers tested sunscreen, bug spray, laundry detergent and air conditioner refrigerant that had attributes such as being chemical-free and tested that against a company that made one of those products and donated 10%of sales to charity. What was interesting was consumers tended to favor the latter–maybe because they worried “social good” meant a less effective product. When “social good” was decoupled from the product and assigned to the company as a whole, people felt the best about the product. They believed it meant higher performance.

4) Consumers smell self-interest a mile away

People like companies that do social good, but that warm feeling can be attenuated when they sense crass corporate self-interest behind those good works. For me, this finding echoes the truth equation from Charles Green, which says trust is the sum of credibility, reliability and security DIVIDED by the self-orientation of the company (or person). Self-orientation is self-interest and refers to how much an organization is perceived as focusing on itself vs. others. The more a company seems focused on its own needs, the bigger the denominator in the trust equation and the lower the level of trust. This seems to hold true in CSR too. A study with a pretend company named eco-Inks showed that its self-interested advertising about the product’s petroleum-free attribute was far less effective than putting that messaging in its CSR outreach–or having a nonprofit speak to the merits of the company.

See also:

Katya Andresen’s site:

Cause Marketing for Nonprofits: Partner for Purpose, Passion and Profits

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What should you ask yourself when considering a corporate partnership?

Michael Edwards’ book, Small Change: Why Business Won’t Save the World is our feature this month and is an essential read for any nonprofit that’s engaging businesses with their mission. We offer another compelling excerpt below from our Page to Practice interview.

CausePlanet: Your book makes a terrific case for nonprofits staying out of the business of market strategies to create social change. What advice would you give a nonprofit CEO who would like to disengage a business partnership but faces unanimous opposition from the board?

Michael Edwards: At the moment, market-based strategies are much in vogue, and there’s a huge amount of hype about their impact and effectiveness. Board members obviously listen to that hype and want to become involved, perhaps without delving very deeply into the costs and benefits of these strategies. So I understand the question that you’re raising. I think the way to approach this question is NOT through blanket opposition, which just seems defensive, but through a principled and pragmatic analysis of the nonprofit’s mission and how best to promote it in a rapidly-changing world. There is already plenty of evidence that shows how a mission for social change can be damaged by the adoption of market-based strategies, but often nonprofits don’t know about it, or don’t mobilize it in and for their work. Board members aren’t stupid, so if they see that something isn’t working for their organization and others like it, they are usually open to discussing why that is.

CausePlanet: The allure of a large gift from a philanthrocapitalist is very powerful for a nonprofit organization—especially because their methodology makes sense in the corporate world. What questions should nonprofit leaders ask of themselves or the philanthrocapitalist to determine if the collaboration is appropriate?

Michael Edwards: Money always has a “steering effect” on the organizations that receive it, especially if it comes with strings attached, and those strings are often quite tightly-wound by “philanthrocapitalists” because they believe that close guidance is essential for success. After all, that’s a basic lesson of venture capital investing and supply chain management, even though it’s incompatible with the freedom and flexibility that nonprofits need to respond effectively on the ground. So, nonprofit leaders should ask themselves what trade-offs are acceptable in each situation, and how far they are prepared to go in making compromises in order to unlock these new resources. Sometimes these trade-offs will be manageable through careful negotiation with the donor, but at other times the best option may be to forgo the gift entirely. That’s a tough choice in today’s economic climate, but growth isn’t always the best path to impact.

CausePlanet: In chapter four you identify only two ways that businesses should safely collaborate with nonprofts: 1) delivering social and environmental services; and 2) strengthening the financial management of nonprofit organizations. Are there any potential pitfalls nonprofit leaders should try to anticipate with these recommended channels?

Michael Edwards: I think that depends on the mission of each nonprofit. A community organizing or campaigning group, for example, may need little of either of these two things, though no doubt we could all benefit from stronger financial management. Over the last ten years, nonprofits have been pushed further and further towards service-provision as their core mission, and away from the social and political work of civil society. I think that’s a real problem, because it’s that social and political work that creates the biggest impact over the long term (think of the Civil Rights movement, for example, or the mass membership groups that pushed the federal government to pass landmark social legislation after World War II). So, I want nonprofits to recover that part of their mission at every opportunity. If a focus on service-provision or market-based revenue generation pushes them away from doing that, I’m against it, but if the two can be successfully combined, that’s good. So, a pragmatic way of approaching these questions is to ask how nonprofits can increase the social and political impact of their service-providing and revenue-generating activities. There’s already some good work on that question from the Building Movement Project at Demos in New York and others elsewhere.

For more information about Small Change, visit Michael Edwards’ site at For the complete interview, visit our summary store or subscribe to our monthly summaries of Page to Practice. Or, you can keep up with what we’re reading on Facebook and Twitter.

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