How to Use Charity to Develop Your Brand

Americans are the most charitable people in the world. Private philanthropy in the US has the size of around 1.4% of the country’s GDP, which is almost twice as much as the next most charitable country in the world, Canada. 67% of American households donate an average of 4% of their incomes to charity.

SIngapore Airlines Charity Run

photo credit: RunSociety / Flickr

With 71% of total charitable donations, individuals are the biggest charity donors in the country. That is surprising for many reasons, including the fact that charitable giving can come with significant benefits to businesses. If you are a business owner, a CEO, or someone in charge of the development of a brand, here’s how you can leverage charitable activities to further develop your brand.

Identify What Matters to Your Audience

When brands give to charities, their philanthropic drive is often not the most important motivation. Like many other brand activities, involvement with charities is a form of communication with consumers. The best-case scenario is that a brand’s involvement with a charity will increase the trust in the brand, ultimately leading to an improved brand image and greater sales.

Brands should associate themselves with the charities that matter to their customers. Making sure the brand matches the audience is branding 101. People will connect with your brand more easily if the things that matter to them also matter to your brand. You can also decide that you want your brand to be a trailblazer for a certain cause that hasn’t been getting enough attention, even from your audience. But in that case, you should be sure the audience will have a positive reaction.

Find the Right Approach to Giving

Brands have many different ways to donate to charity. Giving straightforward donations seems like an obvious one, but it might be hard to publicize unless you plan to advertise it. And that’s not something you should be doing. Studies found that consumers had better opinions of a company’s product if they knew the company was involved in charitable activities. However, that effect was diminished when they found about the activities from advertisements.

Your brand can leverage public relations and direct contact through social media to spread the message of their charitable donations. However, there are other ways you can give back that won’t make your brand look like it’s blowing its own horn too hard. Creating a product or a service and donating the proceeds from the sales is one way to do it. Giving up a percentage of proceeding from existing products can also do the trick.

Work with Your Communities

Brands have many touch points with different communities. Their employees form a community. Their consumers form a community. The people who live in the areas where the brand has physical assets are also a community. You can specifically target each of these communities in communications. But you can also work with them to see what they need and what matters to them the most.

You know how the best brand ambassadors you can ever have are your employees? Well, they will like working at a place where charitability is an important value. They will be happy to work for you, and they will be happy to tell people about you. There’s nothing better than word-of-mouth marketing, and that’s one way you can get it started. Working with audiences and local communities can have the same effect. The fact that your brand cares and is willing to help those who are involved with it will resonate.

It All Comes Down to Values

Finally, you should understand that the charities you choose to support reflect the values of your brand. The development of values is an important part of creating a brand with which people will be able to identify. Having values and displaying them often means doing a little extra for the causes that matter to the brands.

The world we live in is riddled with big problems that affect whole societies. Environmental issues are an example of problems that have global importance. Your brand can do its part to address these issues. The way your brand does it can speak volumes about its values. Relying on the strong community the brand has built demonstrates values. So does showering the people who are more actively involved with attention or money. Taking up a leadership role in fighting these problems is another way to demonstrate core values. And people who share those values will know how to appreciate it.

Using charity to improve your branding is a win-win situation for your brand and the charities it works with. The increased exposure helps both achieve their goals. However, you should be careful when leveraging charity to improve branding. If you do it the wrong, or if you publish it in the wrong way, your brand’s charitable activities will backfire. There’s nothing that can bury a brand like being perceived as inauthentic. So don’t be afraid to give, but be careful with how you do it.

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