Business That Cares

The month of January is known as following the god Janus, the god with two heads, one looking in back of and one excited. The god Saturn Apparently, gave Janus the introspective ability to see in to the past and the gift of seeing into the future. I could make no promises of having god-like skills, but in critiquing the past year’s stories and tweets, it seems that there is tendency is to find newer and better ways for business to do good.

And these are the tendencies I see that will be significant in the year of 2011 for creating positive new directions in business philanthropy. Increasingly more studies in social mindset and behavioral economics have been handling the question of what motivates visitors to give. Businesses hoping to use cause marketing and to indulge their customers in giving, and non-profits wanting to find ways to get more value from their corporate sponsorships should tap into these research studies more.

Take for example, the recent study about amusement recreation area goers who paid more for their photos on a trip when they could choose their own price and the profits visited charity. Sceptics of the Panera Cares Business Model, (we profiled their first cafe opening, St Louis Bread Company Cares) which is an example of this type of approach, should check out the video on CBS News.

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For more research studies on consumer providing behavior check out: Ways YOUR ORGANIZATION CAN PROVIDE More Bang For the Buck. Last year I expected that Cause Marketing and Corporate Giving would become more differentiated. Well I was wrong. The lines have obtained even blurrier between CSR, Employee Volunteerism, EVP, Cause Marketing and Corporate Giving. Could it be more that they are distinctions or that they justifiably are categorized as the CSR umbrella?

More and folks cite all of these in the context of each other and often interchangeably. Beth Kanter suggests in her post.Corporate Altruism: The Blurring of the Lines Between CSR and Cause Marketing that possibly the lines do not differentiate one fore another but that it is more of a continuum. Year has been struggling with finding a definition of itself CSR earlier this, but more than being truly a continuum, I like the image of an overencompassing arc, like this of an umbrella..

Employers are seeing that when giving back to the community is a company grassroots effort, not only is more by-in from the employees there, more total providing with time and money, but also more loyalty returned to the company. Using social media to involve the general public in making your choice for a company’s giving is going to increase and bigger. As businesses shall continue steadily to involve the general public in their offering programs, so will the general public be more mixed up in judgment of corporate and business giving. Witness the outcry on the Punk Buckets for a Cure, BOBS Shoes and Target’s funding of political campaign.

While a few of the public will want to be more included in corporate offering, others like Michael Hiltzik of the LA Times (who offered us a cool raise your voice) may choose to be left by itself with their own philanthropy. Whatever a company does, you can make certain the public will be viewing to make sure a company’s giving is neither insincere, nor causing harm in any way other way, nor plain dumb just. Even though many were dubious of Panera’s business model, more and businesses are discovering innovative philanthropic business models. Even staid Nordstrom is planning to open up a philanthropic department store in Manhattan with all earnings going to charity.