As the craziness of Q4 winds to a close and we begin to slow down and prepare for time with friends and family, we often find ourselves with time to reflect and envision how we want our next year to come to life. Now is the perfect time to think about the impact you want to have on the world throughout 2018 and beyond, so here are five steps to kick off your impact program in 2018:
- Think about your customers What are some additional ways that they looking to connect with your brand that can be accomplished through a giving strategy? Have you seen customers purchase once but not seen repeat purchases as frequently as you like? Does your customer demographic align with the most charitable groups (millennials and women 21-45)? The most effective way to see your business grow through giving is to determine what gaps exist and filling them with a robust impact strategy that turns customers into loyal brand enthusiasts.Our partner YogaClub accomplishes this through their subscription model by highlighting the impact of each box they deliver to their customers. To date, more than 160,000 yoga & meditation classes have been provided to children across Los Angeles, thanks to a partnership we power with the nonprofit LA’s Best - and their customers love knowing that each box gives back!
- Think about your product(s) What are some causes that align with the products that you make and/or sell? The biggest mistake we see in the cause-marketing space is business owners choosing a cause that is unrelated to the product that they sell and unrelated to the customers to whom they sell to. It is very important to meet your customers where they are - for example if they are purchasing organic baby food, it makes sense to align your brand with a children's cause, not necessarily diabetes or cancer. Put yourself in your customers' shoes and try to envision what they are thinking about when they are purchasing from your brand.Here is an example from our partner SWAK Designs, an online women’s clothing brand, that donates 1% of every order to Dress for Success through Pledgeling. Customers are reminded of the impact of their purchase on every product page, as shown in the example below.
- Consider your budget Often times, a small amount of money can make a huge impact. Just $0.10 can provide a meal to a child in need and $0.55 can provide life-saving medication to a child in need. If you can determine a margin that works for you, simply add that cost to your cost of goods sold (COGS) and you will always be able to afford your donations.
- Determine the specifics Perhaps every vegan t-shirt sold will plant a tree, or every dog collar will provide a meal for a shelter animal, and you will ask your customers to add a donation at checkout. Get granular about the amount you want to donate and the frequency with which you can afford to donate. Be conservative in your estimate - you can always donate more if you have left-over budget, but it doesn’t look great if you cut back on donations mid-way through the year.Through Pledgeling, you have a variety of donation options to choose from, including a percentage of each sale, a dollar value of each sale, or a one-for-one model. Every site visitor can see a real-time impact calculator that displays the cumulative total of dollars raised. Customers love being part of the brand story in a transparent & authentic way!
- Plan for the major giving themes that fit your brand While giving back year-round is the most effective way to engage customers (and to make a positive impact on the world), it is important to be part of some of the larger moments in time throughout the year. International Women’s Day, Earth Day, Pride Month, Pet Adoption Month, are all examples of large cultural celebrations of impact that you can tap into to make a big splash with your brand and to possibly attract new customers who hear about you because of your impact program with a cause about which they are very passionate.That’s it! You are ready to launch your Impact Program, which will engage your customers, increase your sales, and make a positive impact on the world. This virtuous cycle will continue as you continue to communicate with your customers, thank them for the impact they are making by choosing your brand, and sharing stories of impact from your nonprofit partners.