Local Focus, Big Impact

Nov 21, 2011 11:13 AM ET

What Do You Stand For?

Although the issues are just as pressing, it can be hard to think globally when Americans themselves grapple with a sluggish economy, unemployment, poverty and hunger. So it's understandable that the 2011 Cone/Echo Global CR Opportunity Study revealed Americans are more likely to want companies to address the quality of life locally (47% versus the global average of 36%) than nationally or globally. Responding to this demand, a number of organizations are refocusing their efforts on local communities.

Cauzoom, a technology start-up in the Boston area, is making sure impact stays focused in the surrounding community. The company has developed a straightforward campaign, "Support Local Causes,” which helps small nonprofits on a local level by enabling donors and community members to donate and interact through social media. John Deere has laser-focused its efforts in Moline, Illinois, the home of its worldwide headquarters. The company recently announced a plan to build a life-size John Deere Series S Combine out of cans of food, which will then be donated directly to the surrounding community with the help of a local food bank. Lipton has also found a unique way to address competing global and local needs through "Caring for Communities is Our Cup of Tea,” a campaign which combines local impact with a global education. Winners of the grand prize will take a trip to Kenya to visit a Rainforest Alliance Certified farm, but they will also receive $25,000 to dedicate to a sustainability effort in their own community.

In the age when multinational corporations often take on large national or global issues, consumers may find it difficult to connect how these companies' huge efforts translate to their lives or the lives of those around them. Even in today's sophisticated cause marketing and corporate responsibility environment, there is still an opportunity for companies to focus efforts, at least partially, on the local level, appealing to Americans' desire for local impact, strengthening their brands and the communities in which they operate along the way.