Social responsibility programs can do good (and do your brand good)

Social responsibility programs can do good (and do your brand good)

Localize your efforts and make sure to describe what’s actually being accomplished.

Our EcoPulse ’13 study shows that a third of of consumers are swayed in their purchase decisions by a company’s nonprofit partnerships and donations.

When asked which corporate philanthropic activities would most positively influence them, 35 percent of respondents pointed to local community activities they could see, with 27 percent saying they are most influenced by programs to support local initiatives like stocking food pantries or promoting recycling, while another 8 percent say they most value companies sponsoring local employee-volunteer programs.

Far fewer (twenty percent) are influenced by national philanthropy initiatives, such as donations to health and human service nonprofits like the American Cancer Society (16%) or environmental organizations like the Sierra Club (3%).

A comparable number (nineteen percent) are most influenced by international donations or partnerships with health and human services nonprofits like UNICEF (10%)  or  international environmental organizations like the World Wildlife Fund (9%).

Align efforts with brand identity and localize, if possible

Obviously, whatever philanthropic activity you pick must align with your business and your target audience.  If you are a company that makes personal care products, it makes great sense to direct your efforts to health and human services programs; if you make children’s products – towards education or child welfare initiatives. If your target audience is made up of outdoor enthusiasts, focus on environmental preservation efforts.

But the key take-away is to make your efforts visible at the local level, if at all possible. Sponsor local walks, clean-ups, etc. and involve your employees as brand ambassadors in the communities where they live.  People care about what’s in it for me/my community and your efforts will be more  salient if they can be seen with your customers own eyes.

Describe the impacts, not just what you are doing

These findings also underline the importance of publicizing your CSR initiatives through advertising; on-pack labeling and corporate sustainability reports for building your sustainability reputation and influencing purchase decisions.

And finally, to get the most impact, remember that people are more impressed by the actual impacts of an initiative than your investment totals. For example, readers are more influenced by the fact that infant deaths dropped by 50% in a region of Africa than they are hearing that you spent $100,000 on water-purification systems.


, ,

Posted on

July 2, 2013

About the Author

Lee Ann Head

Lee Ann Head

Lee Ann started Shelton Group's research department in 2000 and paved the way for us to become the insights-grounded creative agency we are today. After 17 years leading our research team, she recently moved to New Orleans, handing down the title of Vice President of Research & Insights, but remains an integral part of that team as she continues to oversee client projects and proprietary studies.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Suzanne Shelton

President and CEO

Suzanne is the voice and the vision of Shelton Group. Drawing on her extensive experience in energy and the environment – and 25+ years in the marketing and advertising industry – Suzanne provides high-level strategic insights for our clients and guidance for our research and creative departments. She regularly speaks at conferences around the country, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and the International Builders’ Show, and serves as a guest columnist for publications like Fast Company, Green Builder and

Susannah Enkema

VP Research & Insights

Susannah directs our research team and plays a key role in extracting the nuggets of information that pave the way for recommended marketing strategies and creative approaches. Susannah has nearly two decades of market research and strategy experience, including her role as president of SE Consulting, where she led the services for the likes of DIY Network and the makers of GORE-TEX®.

Laila Waggoner

VP Client Engagement

Laila leads our client engagement process, overseeing activities from both a strategic and a tactical level to ensure our work generates desired results – and clients’ satisfaction. She brings 25+ years of marketing leadership experience to her client relationships, with particular expertise in the homebuilding and remodeling industries as well as member-driven organizations, such as the Vinyl Siding Institute and Plastics Pipe Institute. Before joining Shelton Group, she led strategic marketing teams for Owens Corning’s insulation business.

Matt Brass

VP Creative

Matt steers the creative department in concepting, designing and producing campaigns. He ensures sound strategy and deep insights inform everything his team develops, and works closely with the accounts department to ensure copy and designs will meet our clients’ goals. As a designer and filmmaker himself, he’s also a principal contributor to all of Shelton’s in-house photography and videography work.

Courtnay Hamachek

VP Operations

Courtnay oversees our day-to-day operations to keep us running smoothly and support our growth. She establishes project management systems and processes to help our teams anticipate bottlenecks, prevent process issues, and keep projects on time and on target. Courtnay has built extensive experience over 25 years in all aspects of marketing, from account services and project management to design and production.

Mike Beamer

VP Business Development

Mike joined our team to help provide strategic vision and foster our agency’s growth by overseeing new business leads and managing agency marketing and website content. He arrived in Knoxville steeped in energy efficiency and renewables – he previously led client service for an agency division in Boston dedicated to marketing communications strategy and branding for B2B and B2C clients in that space.