For a cause: How workplace campaigns can benefit brands

BizReport: June 17, 2011
Jun 17, 2011 1:45 PM ET

Biz Report - For a cause: How workplace campaigns can benefit brands

by Kristina Knight

I recently chatted with Jana Taylor, Vice President of Marketing with Benevity about the challenges and rewards of workplace giving opportunities.

Kristina: What is the benefit of a business/corporation partnering in a workplace campaign?

Jana: At Benevity we like to say that your employees are your brand. When it comes to cause marketing campaigns, involving your employees in these initiatives, and, importantly, the causes that you're supporting can have a huge impact. Employees are amazing brand ambassadors for your cause marketing campaigns. And there's research to support this: Cone's 2010 Cause Evolution Study study found that 70% of consumers are more likely to make a cause related purchase or donation if an employee recommends it.

What's also key is for companies to incorporate their cause marketing campaigns and align corporate giving with their workplace giving programs. This is important for employee engagement/team building, extending the brand and resonating positively with employees and the community at large.

Kristina: What isn't working in these campaigns? And, how can that be fixed?

Jana: What isn't working in cause marketing programs is that many companies are struggling to realize meaningful consumer engagement. Specifically, consumer choice and corporate matching are missing from many cause marketing campaigns. Giving is personal, yet most cause marketing initiatives give individuals the chance to help support only a single cause selected by the company. And corporate matching is rarely used or clearly communicated.

So how could cause marketing be more meaningful to consumers? Here's where taking a page from (effective) workplace giving programs could help cause marketers hugely on the engagement front: give people greater charity choices and use corporate matching to incent giving to the corporately-chosen or strategic causes. (And while you're at it give them a way to aggregate their donations conveniently and get a tax receipt.)

Kristina: More choice, more corporate matching seem like simple fixes...what is the hold-up in integrating these options?

Jana: We think there are two main reasons for the hold up. The first is traditional thinking on the part of some cause marketers. The traditional MO of cause marketing is one company and one cause partnering for mutual benefit. A great example of choice-driven cause marketing is eBay Giving Works (where sellers and buyers can support their charities of choice). The second is solutions, especially technology. To offer more consumer choice in their cause marketing campaigns, companies need a way to enable consumer choice - and a way to administer the back-end requirements of distributing the donations to the various charities. With about 750,000 registered charities in the US (excluding private foundations), doing this manually would be burdensome.

Kristina: How can a platform like Benevity help businesses bridge this gap?

Jana: Although we admit that here at Benevity we're a passionately biased bunch, and we don't want to sound too bold, we do have a software platform that can power both consumer choice and real-time matching. We can also help companies create branded funds (like the Company X Environment Fund, comprised of three environmental charities) so matching can be to the corporate cause or an individual charity. Creating cause marketing offers with greater consumer choice and clear corporate matching offers a way to ignite participation. Companies have a way to create a greater connection with their customers - and, through, corporate matching, a way to be more authentic, transparent and targeted in their cause marketing programs.