Sport Relief is back on our screens again, with the leading lights in British sport and entertainment joining forces to lead the public in doing their bit for causes that matter.
But why should celebrities have all the philanthropic fun? Small businesses can have a social conscience too! Operating with a sense of duty to principles beyond your own bottom line is a self-evidently good thing to do, but it also has some very valuable business advantages that you should bear in mind.
A demonstrable social conscience has a valuable effect on the kind of business, and, more importantly, the kind of brand people perceive you to be. This can have a tangible, positive effect on sales: 89% of customers say they would switch to a brand associated with a good cause.
A commitment to doing good is a win/win: it benefits real people with real problems while also helping your business differentiate itself and show why it’s unique. A business that gives a damn is a business that’s more likely to become a natural go-to for increasingly socially conscious modern customers.
Here are a few ideas for how you can show that your business has a conscience.
They say that charity begins at home. Well, funnily enough, so do your sales.
Wherever you operate, there’ll be local causes and initiatives that would appreciate a helping hand and a gesture of support. There’s plenty of ways you can get involved, but a joint fundraiser event is probably the most visible.
Working with a charity will also allow you to make potentially valuable connections with a network of local patrons.
With the right publicity, a charity event could really do some good while also building your brand as a business with a genuine conscience. For inspiration, check out how we helped grant-funded organisation Dewsbury Sacrifices pack out their inaugural remembrance event.
You don’t have to be a signed up Extinction Rebel to reduce your business’s environmental impact. The clock is ticking on our chances of limiting a catastrophic rise in global temperatures, so every business, large and small, ought to be doing their bit to achieve sustainability.
If you’d like to really ensure your efforts are effective, consider applying for a certification like Green Accord, Green Mark or Investors in the Environment. These organisations help you audit and improve your procurement, energy use, waste policies and other work systems.
What’s more, you’ll get something to show for it. These organisations allow you to use their logo, which you can feature in your own marketing material to show that you’re putting in the work to save the planet.
This may seem like the hardest thing to implement on this list, but ensuring your employees are earning enough to live on is the clearest possible signal that your business’s commitment to justice and fairness isn’t just so much marketing fluff.
Given that the rising cost of living is becoming an increasingly salient, politically hot-button issue in many parts of the country, particularly for under-40s, paying a truly liveable wage sends a strong message to younger customers (and, potentially, employees) that you’re a business that’s really on their side.
The living wage is accredited by the Living Wage Foundation. The WLF's own surveys show that 93% of businesses who’ve signed up to the scheme have benefited from it, with 86% reporting a boost in their reputation.
The best part? A happier, more loyal workforce, of course! But the second best part? As with the green initiatives mentioned above, you’ll get an official ‘Living Wage Employer’ badge to use in your marketing materials to inspire trust.
People aren’t necessarily cynical about businesses wearing their socially conscious credentials on their sleeves - in fact, all evidence shows they welcome it. But customers can also smell phoney philanthropy from a mile off.
The 2010s were a deluge of big brands gratuitously attaching themselves to worthy causes, then never speaking of them again once that ad campaign was done. Some of these campaigns were just in sheer poor taste, like Mastercard’s reviled (and swiftly cancelled) campaign during the 2018 World Cup, when they pledged to donate 10,000 meals to starving children - but only whenever Messi or Neymar scored.
On the sunnier side of the equation you have companies like Dishoom, the innovative restaurant chain. Dishoom has systematically incorporated its charitable ethos into the permanent running of the business.
Printed upon each menu is a cast-iron pledge - ‘for each and every meal you eat at Dishoom, we donate a meal to a child’. So far, they’ve donated 8 million meals and counting to kids in the UK and India. Now that’s altruism you can set your watch by.
What we mean here is that an ostentatious, seemingly random donation every now and again won’t cut it. To really make sure people know your intentions are sincere, find a way to put them into practice at the very heart of your operation.
Doing good feels good, but it also does good things to your brand. Demonstrating that your business has a social conscience helps customers tell you apart from your competitors, while creating a strong impression of trustworthiness and responsibility that will only make them more likely to choose you first.
To show your community that your business has an altruistic side, we would particularly recommend a sponsored content article, written by a professional journalist and published on your local news website.
Enjoyed this article? We’ve got more stashed away: