In the early days of building a business, you’re usually just trying to make it. You want your customers to be happy and your bills to be paid and that’s enough when you’re operating a start-up. As the years continue though many feel a call to give back.
But how? And to who?
We love some socially, locally, and globally conscious brands. So we want to walk you through some steps to becoming one.
What speaks to your heart?
Just like your business, it’s important to identify your why. While any charitable effort is admirable, you’re likely to be more successful and contribute on a greater scale if you’re passionate about the way you want to give back.
Perhaps it’s a personal story that links you to a cause. Or maybe it’s something you’ve discovered in your business journey. You can likely do more when you’re already invested because you have a more intimate knowledge of the cause.
Ideally, you want to be able to see exactly how you’re making a difference. Getting as niche as possible will help you see the results of your efforts.
You may in fact be passionate about helping the environment, but that concept is super broad. Maybe you’re specifically concerned with sustainably manufactured products (like our clients at Sseko). Or you could be focused on ocean preservation. Or toxic-free materials. Or locally made items to reduce your carbon footprint.
Start big with where you’d like to see change happen, then start calculating all the ways your business can contribute to this cause. The further you drill down the more apparent your path will become. Odds are there are lots of ways your business can help, but you can start by slowly incorporating one piece at a time.
Small changes can have a huge impact! Don’t be afraid to help one person/animal/ecosystem at a time.
Business Adjacent Cause
While you can give to any cause at any time you choose, if you are going to make a cause a part of your public-facing brand, it helps to have alignment with your business.
There are a few reasons why this serves as a mutually beneficial direction:
- Consistent Messaging: If all of a sudden you start promoting about helping local animal shelters when you run a coffee shop, it may throw the people who are there for lattes and mochas off balance and send them away from your business.
- Brings Awareness: When your business and the cause are in the same playing field, then you know your audience is already interested in the topic and you can bring even more impact by educating those who have invested in your brand already, but not aware of the cause.
- New Customers: The flow can also go the other direction. People who care about the same cause as you might actively seek brands supporting it. Thus delivering you more customers and creating more opportunities for you to give back.
How to Give Back
Once you’ve decided who you want to help, there’s a lot of ways you can go about giving back. It will depend on your business model, your cash flow, your time, and your business/cause.
- Donate cash/percentage of sales
- Build a sustainable production model into your business
- Give away product/services to those in need
- Offer scholarship programs
- Provide awareness and education
- Create an employment model that improves the system/lives in your industry
- Partner with charitable organizations on events and content
- Use your platform to give a voice to the voiceless
- Harness your influence to change policies
- Form a charitable organization/nonprofit
Whether you’re trying to improve the lives of your team, your community, or the world, there’s not a wrong way to give back to a cause. That being said, you can really create magic when you pair a successful brand personality with a charitable endeavor.
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