Corporate social responsibility (CSR) at a company can take many different forms. Sustainability, diversity and inclusion, volunteer initiatives, grants and scholarships – these are all different avenues a company can take with their CSR program. Despite varying practices, one thing is universally understood: CSR programs are an essential component of business in today’s world. Cause initiatives, in particular, are quickly becoming a popular way to promote CSR at a company to it’s employees, customers, and investors.
A cause initiative is exactly what it sounds like -- a form of CSR that supports a specific cause. Typically, a company will choose to support a number of different causes through volunteering, grants, and disaster relief efforts. However, taking a stand on a specific issue is becoming an emerging trend in the corporate sector. Brands will partner with an organization and weave their CSR into their business plan, and promote the initiative through cause marketing.
Tito’s partnership with Emancipet to start the Vodka for Dog People program is a great example of a cause initiative. The mission of this program is to make low cost veterinary services widely available across the nation through ongoing collaborations and the donation of all proceeds from dog related merchandise sales on the web store.
The Vodka for Dog People website states: “The vision of our Vodka for Dog People program is to unite with our friends, fans, and partners to better the lives of pets and their families far and wide.”
You’re probably asking yourself, what makes a vodka company choose to support this specific cause? The founder of the company, Tito Beveridge, has always been a strong advocate for animal welfare. The company first made a connection with Emancipet almost 16 years ago when they started finding strays near their facility. Throughout the years, employees have been fostering and adopting many of these dogs and are encouraged to bring them to work. It was a natural next step for Tito’s to turn that relationship into the foundation of their CSR efforts. This is a cause that has been embedded into the company’s culture since its inception – which is a big reason why this cause initiative is so powerful.
The key to implementing a successful cause initiative is to address issues that align with your company’s core values while also taking your employees values into account.
By choosing to support causes that employees are passionate about, you are all but guaranteeing an elevated level of employee participation and ultimately, a higher level of employee engagement. One way to get this information is to have employees complete an electronic survey. A 100% response rate is not guaranteed, but those who respond are likely to participate enthusiastically. Empowering employees to have input is a strong message showing employees that leadership trusts and values their opinions. This will ultimately affect the success of your initiative.
Once you’ve gotten input from employees and chosen a cause to support, the next step is creating a partnership with an organization. Ideally this will be an organization that you know well or have worked with in the past, but creating a new relationship is just as effective. In any case, you’ll want to make sure the organization’s mission aligns with your goals for the cause you have chosen.
You can follow the Tito’s example and create a special line of products whose net profits will go directly to the organization. You could also take a percentage of sales from an existing product line and donate those to the organization. You could even host a joint fundraising event benefitting the organization. The possibilities are endless, and you shouldn’t be afraid to be creative.
The partnership can be solely monetary, but the more successful cause initiatives have an employee volunteer component as well.
Creating an avenue for your employees to contribute to your cause initiative is a terrific way to foster an engaging and productive work environment. Employees want to hear about the good things their company is doing, but they also want to be involved and feel like they are making a difference themselves. According to a recent study, 88% of millennials say their job is more fulfilling when they are provided opportunities to make a positive impact on social and environmental issues.
Once you have all the details ironed out, it’s time to create a plan for promotion. Marketing is a vital component of any cause initiative because it depends on the participation of the public as well as the employees. If you have chosen wisely, you should already have a compelling story to tell, much like the story of Tito Beveridge rescuing stray dogs.
Another important aspect of a cause initiative is organization and administration of the program. Keeping track of the donations and employee volunteer hours will inform you on the success of your initiative and allow you to track the impact of your partnership. Choosing the right software to manage the administrative side will save you time and resources while allowing you to focus on the program itself.
When implemented correctly, a cause initiative can have tremendous benefits for the company, the non-profit organization, the employees, the investors, and the community.
If your company wants to reap the benefits of a successful cause initiative, DonationXchange is here to help. Learn more about our dynamic philanthropy platform.