Give-back campaigns are on the rise again, but in 2021, shoppers’ expectations around these efforts have changed.
Modern consumers now want brands to create real, meaningful social impact and can easily see through mere publicity stunts and marketing campaigns disguised as philanthropy.
As a result, this means that in order for brands to build authentic connections with customers who value that “give-back” element, charitable efforts need to be rooted in brand values, mission, and company culture—not a one-time gimmick.
The next questions, then, are:
- What charitable causes are relevant and meaningful within the space that my brand is in?
- What type of give-back campaigns make sense for my brand?
- How are other brands finding success with give-back campaigns?
We’ll answer all of these questions and more. Let’s jump right in.
Finding a cause that speaks to your brand
For brands searching for meaningful ways to give back and make a positive impact, looking for causes that best align with your brand and the industry that your brand falls into is a best practice. For beauty brands, for example, a focus on supporting inclusivity may be a good fit.
The beauty industry is rapidly evolving to be more inclusive of people of all races and genders, and supporting causes that advocate for minority groups can take this movement even further. Studies show that 48% of consumers are aware of a beauty brand’s reputation and attitude towards BIPOC and the LGBTQ+ community. This means that offering 100 shades of foundation isn’t enough to make a statement— the goal should be to include these values throughout their brand’s DNA to build loyalty and trust from their customers.
For a wellness or CBD brand that is looking for ways to increase their impact, focusing on mental health-related causes is a natural fit. Did you know that nearly 1 in 5 U.S. adults live with a mental health condition? As the conversations around mental health awareness grow, brands from all industries are getting involved, and you can too! May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which presents the perfect opportunity timing-wise to launch a new give-back campaign that maximizes social impact.
Why social impact is crucial for your brand
Addressing pressing societal challenges contributes to your brand’s transparency and authenticity—and this sits well with the modern consumer.
Who is the modern consumer?
Today, the largest segment of consumers falls under the Millennial umbrella, which has recently overthrown the Baby Boomers as the largest living generation within the US.
As proud advocates for social causes, 81% of Millennials will support companies that are working to become good corporate citizens, or are already making meaningful progress in that direction. With Mental Health Awareness month in full swing, brands that are placing an emphasis on providing support to those living with mental health conditions will resonate highly with these conscious consumers.
This stance has only become more solid since the onset of the pandemic, with more shoppers encouraging brands to be more vocal about societal issues.
So how do you launch a give-back campaign that does this well? The first step is all about planning.
How to plan a social impact strategy
The digital-first nature of the eCommerce and direct-to-customer business models take some of the traditional giving back methods off the table: You can’t simply put a donation jar next to your register, after all.
However, there are creative workarounds that can help create a similar type of setup for eCommerce.
Before you get into the nuts and bolts of execution, though, you need to nail down a documented strategy.
Brainstorm ideas with your team
First, sit down and brainstorm with your team about initiatives that can help strike a positive chord with your target audience and produce a significant impact on a cause that your brand is aligned with. Create a shortlist of causes or organizations to consider supporting, and decide which ones are the best fits for your needs.
Set a goal for your campaign
Like any campaign a business launches, setting a clear objective allows you to accurately measure success and acts as a performance benchmark. Consider speaking with leadership at the organization you’re supporting to gauge how much you’d need to raise to make a lasting impact for them.
Your goal might be things like:
- A dollar amount raised for the non-profit partner organization
- A funding match total (e.g. matching shoppers’ donations dollar-for-dollar)
- Launching a mental health program for your employees to continue education efforts around mental health conditions and offer support to employees who may be living with mental health conditions
Nail down the campaign messaging
Brainstorming and goal-setting are only the tip of the iceberg; you still need to fine-tune your messaging to be sure it aligns with your brand values, mission, voice, and tone. Be sure you document your messaging strategy for your give-back campaign so that all partners have a reference point they can revisit when questions arise.
Determine your campaign dates
How long are you planning to run your give-back campaign? If you only intend to make it active during a specific timeframe such as Mental Health Awareness Month, you still need to set an explicit launch and end date for internal reference and so your customers are clear about how and when they can get involved. If it’s an evergreen strategy, you can keep the timeline open-ended, but still establish regular intervals for performance evaluation.
Create a plan to execute your campaign
When you’re ready to bring your campaign to life, be sure to leverage smart tech and tools that make executing a give-back campaign simple. ShoppingGives enables brands to work with a selected partner organization or charity while also giving their customers an option to donate to their preferred nonprofit at checkout. This bridges the intention-action gap and encourages shoppers to act right off the bat while getting something in return—your product.
3 examples of brands giving back
If you’re searching for inspiration for ways that your brand can give back, take a look at a few brands that have already found success with their campaigns.
Kenneth Cole has been a company of social advocates from the start and is always engaged in projects with a mission of improving the lives of others. As a clothing and shoe retailer, Kenneth Cole is committed to being inclusive and making the world a better place.
In May of 2020 Kenneth Cole joined forces with the Mental Health Coalition to launch the “How Are You, Really?” campaign to bring awareness to those living with mental health conditions and let these individuals know that they are not alone.
Together with the Mental Health Coalition, Kenneth Cole set out to destigmatize all mental health conditions and enable equitable access to vital resources and support for all. As an evergreen strategy, Kenneth Cole supports the Mental Health Coalition as well as other causes like the Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund and the New York Public Library to help make a massive impact every single day.
Highline Wellness is a rising, New York City-based cannabis wellness brand focused on safe, reliable, and affordable hemp-based cannabinoid products. Its core mission is to make a more pleasant world, one dose at a time.
During the social justice protests of 2020, Highline Wellness used their power as a brand to stand up and be social advocates for the fight against racial injustice. Not only did Highline Wellness pledge to donate 10% of all orders to support organizations that are working to secure the political, educational, social, and economic rights of all people, but they also set out to educate themselves on inclusivity, diversity, and social justice.
When consumers shopped with Highline Wellness, they were able to make a positive impact by purchasing products they love and supporting a great cause at the same time. As an evergreen strategy, Highline Wellness enables their customers to support the cause of their choice so that every purchase made can make a positive impact for the causes that their customers care about most.
Huron is a men’s care company that offers high-quality, high-performing personal care products at approachable prices. Huron makes sure that all of their products are 100% vegan, cruelty-free, and made in the USA in 100% recyclable packaging.
For the Huron team, mental health awareness is a cause that they are passionate about. Huron knows that even though 1 in 5 adults experience challenges with Mental Health, more than half of those individuals will not seek or receive treatment. Additionally, societal norms and expectations also impact different genders and races, and men, in particular, are less likely to seek help or discuss their concerns with loved ones or professionals.
In addition to driving donations towards charitable causes, Huron is on a mission to continue educating individuals on the importance of mental health and is actively working to remove the stigma around asking for help.
It’s never too late for your brand to get started with a social impact strategy
There are many moving parts when launching a give-back campaign for your brand, but proper planning helps streamline the process.
Run an effective brainstorm session and you may be surprised at the number of ideas your team can come up with around a meaningful give back campaign. When it comes to goal-setting, use this tool to figure up your potential impact. From there, define your campaign strategy and define its time frame to increase its effectiveness. Then all that’s left to do is launch.
It’s never too late to implement a social impact strategy— the most important thing is to start! Capitalize on the momentum of mental health awareness this year and get your next give back campaign in motion!