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.


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Posted on

July 2, 2013

About the Author

Lee Ann Head

Lee Ann Head

Lee Ann is a former contributor to Shelton Insights.

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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®.

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.

Aaron Crecy

Digital Marketing Director

Aaron is responsible for planning, executing and measuring digital marketing strategies for Shelton Group and our clients, with an emphasis on inbound, content, SEO, social media, email and paid initiatives. He constantly researches and explores new tactics and strategies to improve digital campaign performance and results.

Aaron brings to the table more than 20 years of marketing leadership experience with premium consumer-facing brands. He came to Shelton Group by way of Malibu Boats, where, as Director of Global Marketing, he oversaw strategic marketing planning and execution for multiple product lines, with specific emphasis on social media and digital. Prior to that, he served as CMO for a leading daily fantasy sports operator, guiding it from startup to the industry’s third-ranked site.

Scot Case

Senior Consultant

A sustainability strategy consultant since 1993, Scot has served as non-profit leader, as a partner in an environmental marketing firm that he grew and sold, and as an executive in a multi-billion-dollar, international company. He has published dozens of articles and case studies, was co-author of the original “Sins of Greenwashing” study, testified before Congress, and been quoted on NPR, Good Morning America, CNN, The New York Times, Business Week, and the Wall Street Journal. Scot was also highlighted in an Emmy award-winning documentary on sustainable purchasing.

Casey Ward

VP Account Services

Casey manages our relationships, growth and development with a specific group of clients that includes Environmental Defense Fund, Cotton LEADS and CertainTeed Insulation. She provides leadership and support for the account team members who manage the day-to-day processes for these clients. She contributes to strategic direction for each client and guides our creative efforts to ensure everything we do builds toward meeting – or exceeding – the client’s goals. Her ability to simultaneously see the big picture and pay close attention to the details helps her champion her clients’ needs and identify new growth opportunities for them.