Recently I had the pleasure of speaking in one of my former professor's classes at the University of South Florida regarding the importance of getting involved with non-profits and charitable organizations from a business perspective. I thought since the holidays are approaching and giving back to the community is on a lot of people's minds, it would be a great time to write a blog on the subject. As I started writing I realized it's way too much information for one post and would be more digestible as a short series. That being said, this is the first entry of the series!
The class I spoke in was an upper level Entrepreneurship course and the professor asked me to discuss what business benefits there are for organizations who choose to volunteer with and support non-profits. A statistic my boss always quotes immediately came to mind, "94% of consumers are more willing to support a company when that company supports a cause." That's a huge percentage! 94% of consumers is basically ALL the consumers! Beyond that, "55% of consumers are willing to pay more for products from socially responsible companies." Again, that is a huge portion of consumers! I know from personal experience that I am definitely willing to pay more for something when I know a portion of the proceeds are benefitting a cause I care about. I can't tell you how many times I have paid $30+ for a simple t-shirt that couldn't possibly have cost more than $10 to make just because I know that in doing so I am supporting something I feel passionately about. From the consumer standpoint, it's an easy way to give back without actually doing something beyond purchasing a product you already want.
Think about the shoe company TOMS. Most people easily recognize the brand name and know that for every pair of shoes they purchase, TOMS will donate a new pair of shoes to a child in need. Their entire business model is built around the one for one concept. There's nothing super special about the actual shoes TOMS makes (in my opinion). They're simple, versatile shoes - often made of canvas - with a typical starting point around $50 per pair. That seems like a lot for a pair of canvas shoes right? And yet, since its inception in 2006, TOMs has already sold over 60 millions pairs.
TOMS is just one example of a company that produces products people are willing to pay more for because in doing so they are being socially responsible. I haven't even started to touch on the myriad of other ways businesses can benefit by supporting and working with non-profits through both corporate social responsibility and cause marketing! From public image to brand recognition to increased exposure and employee morale - there are SO many reasons businesses should build community involvement and giving back into their organizational framework.
Stay tuned for the next installment of this series to learn more!