Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a term that’s gained traction among business owners in recent years. This phrase refers to any policies or management practices that business owners implement to create a positive impact in the community.
As a business owner, you might be interested in starting up a CSR program of your own or incorporating nonprofit partnerships into your business plan. Perhaps there’s an organization that’s dear to your heart that you’d like to support through a virtual fundraiser. Or, maybe you’ve learned about some of the benefits your business can receive from CSR programs, including a positive boost to your public image and better engagement with customers.
But at the end of the day, you’re a business owner, not a fundraising professional. That’s why we’ve compiled a few tips for using your business to give back. Whether you run a kennel, flower shop, or dance studio, these insights will help guide your philanthropic efforts.
1. Choose a cause that aligns with your business principles.
If you’re serious about getting involved with philanthropic causes, it’s important to seek out nonprofits and other charitable partners that align with your business’s mission. This will lead to a more sustainable relationship because you’re working toward a common cause.
For example, a dog daycare business that is familiar with animal welfare issues might seek out animal advocacy organizations to be the beneficiaries of their fundraising efforts. This type of partnership is advantageous for both parties, as the nonprofit will receive financial support and insider knowledge, and the business will improve its brand reputation and connect with potential new customers.
2. Consolidate your online fundraising approach.
You know how to attract customers to your business and keep a steady stream of revenue flowing. But you may not be as well-versed in the ins and outs of conducting a fundraiser to benefit a nonprofit.
Here are a few basic virtual fundraising channels to help you get started:
- Mobile giving: Mobile giving platforms make it simple for donors to give to a cause using their smartphones, tablets, or other mobile devices. In particular, text-to-give services enable organizations to solicit donations with a quick text message. This convenient giving experience can encourage more people to give to your chosen nonprofit.
- Email giving: Email is another frequently used messaging platform that’s effective for fundraising campaigns. With an email campaign, you send mass messages to your audience members with a link to an online donation page where they can contribute.
- Crowdfunding: NXUnite defines crowdfunding as a fundraising tactic in which nonprofits and other charitable organizations create donation pages that supporters share with their peers, typically via social media, to generate many small donations. To support these campaigns, share crowdfunding pages with your network of employees and customers to get them directly involved in fundraising.
Choose a platform that you can easily implement. For example, if you already have a solid email presence with a weekly newsletter full of updates from your business, you can easily include a link to a nonprofit donation page as a part of your letter to inspire readers to give. On the other hand, if you have a sizable social media audience on your business’s pages already, a crowdfunding campaign might have the most success and raise the most money for a community organization.
3. Offer employee matching gifts and volunteer grants.
Having a comprehensive CSR program isn’t only something that customers expect from your business—employees increasingly seek out jobs that offer opportunities to get involved with charitable giving. In fact, 58% of employees say it’s very important that their company offers a corporate matching gift program, one of the hallmarks of a quality CSR program.
To adopt a matching gift program, your company would need to financially match donations made by employees to eligible nonprofits up to a specific amount. Most corporations match gifts on a 1:1 ratio, but some also choose to triple or even quadruple the size of employee donations.
Volunteer grant programs are similar to matching gift programs, but instead of matching employee monetary donations, your organization would contribute a donation in exchange for a certain number of hours volunteered by one of your employees. For example, you might choose to offer a donation of $10 for every hour volunteered by your employees for up to 50 hours a year.
By incorporating matching gift and volunteer grant programs into your business structure, you can help your employees feel more personally fulfilled and connected to their community, give a nice funding boost to a worthy cause, and strengthen your reputation as a business owner in the process.
4. Get your employees and customers involved.
If you’re looking to engage both employees and customers in charitable giving, empower them to become fundraisers themselves.
With a peer-to-peer campaign, you can recruit volunteer fundraisers to create and share their own fundraising pages and encourage their friends and family to donate. Donations are usually collected in a specific period leading up to an event or throughout the event itself. These donations all help contribute to an overarching goal set by your business, and by the end, your business will be able to write a sizable check to a nonprofit or another community partner.
Some top peer-to-peer event ideas for your business might include:
- 5K fundraiser: Invite supporters to register for the event and raise money until race day. Celebrate your fundraising success on race day, and be sure to offer prizes to winners! You can also host a virtual 5K and encourage participants to find a trail or path to run the race remotely.
- Auction: Encourage volunteers to fundraise in the weeks leading up to the event, and ask for item donations from other local businesses (and be sure to contribute several items from your business, too!). Reward top fundraisers at the event and use the time to get your brand name out in the community by placing your logo on all event marketing materials. Alternatively, you can host an online auction and allow participants to put in their bids over a longer period, such as a week.
- Festival: Ask volunteers to fundraise using their networks, and use the funds to put on the event and make a gift to a nonprofit partner. Incorporate food trucks, live music, and activities for kids to engage the entire community in your fundraising event!
When your fundraising efforts culminate in an exciting event, you can support and engage your local community while getting your business’s name out in the local area.
5. Launch a merchandise fundraiser.
Depending on your business, you may already offer merchandise to customers in your physical facility or online store. If that’s the case, you can easily put some of your merchandise funds toward a charitable cause or create new items to sell through a merchandise fundraiser.
Start by designing basic items like t-shirts, mugs, and pens with your business logo and your nonprofit partner’s branding. Then, promote the fundraiser across your social media pages, email newsletters, and website, stating that a portion or all of the sales will go toward charity.
If it’s within your budget, you should also consider using an automated solution like Gingr’s pet business software to boost revenue with online and in-store retail sales tools, including barcode scanners, online shopping carts, and inventory trackers. With each sale, you’ll raise funds for a good cause while increasing brand recognition as supporters use your merchandise in their day-to-day lives.
There are plenty of ways for your business to give back to the community and develop a CSR program that engages employees and customers on a deeper level.
Check out all the resources available to help you solidify your online fundraising approach, develop opportunities for employees and customers to become fundraisers themselves, and leverage the power and influence of your business to reach your fundraising goals.