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The Great Disconnect: Time to Unite Community Giving + Loyalty Programs

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on February 24, 2023

Editor's Note:

Craig Brennan is the CEO of in/PACT, an Enterprise SaaS Social Good Loyalty Company. He spotlights the intersection of cause related marketing and loyalty marketing in this thoughtful article.

in/PACT and its partners work with Brands, Retailers, Financial Institutions and more to design, build, and manage Digital Giving Campaigns. To learn more, you can find Craig here, contact@inpact.com or call 215-323-5606.

The Great Disconnect: Time to Unite Community Giving + Loyalty Programs

By Craig Brennan, CEO of in/PACT

Corporations across dozens of industries invest in a variety of ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) initiatives to reduce their environmental impact, better serve communities and adopt best practice corporate governance policies.

Core to Corporate ESG Initiatives is “Social” Community Giving Programs which donate billions to tens of thousands of nonprofits each year. These Community Giving Programs are an essential part of Stakeholder Capitalism, extending the bottom line beyond shareholders to include employees, communities, and the environment.

Yet few consumers are aware of all the goodness these Community Giving Programs achieve. A recent national survey found that 64.4% of consumers are unfamiliar with the term ESG, a surprising statistic given the amount of money leading Brands donate to nonprofits each year. 

This insight begs the question - how can Brands engage their customers with their ESG initiatives and demonstrate their commitment to "Social" Community Giving Programs if their best customers are unaware or do not participate in these programs? 

Disconnected ESG Community Giving + Loyalty Programs

Our research team undertook the arduous task of analyzing 520 Corporate ESG Reports published in 2022. These ESG Reports highlight the investments being made across industries and companies to improve our environment, invest in various causes and communities, and adopt best practice governance.

Of the 520 Corporate ESG Reports we reviewed, 77% had Customer Loyalty Programs and 82%had Community Giving Programs. It is impressive to see so many leading Brands embracing both Customer Loyalty as well as Community Giving programs.

Over $9.3 billion was donated by these Community Giving Programs. Some Giving Programs donate $1 to $2 million to meaningful causes as other leading brands, such as Kroger, Salesforce, Wells Fargo, and others, donate tens to hundreds of millions to great causes.

Across all 520 Companies researched, the average amount donated was $27 million with a median amount of $9 million.

Corporate Community Giving Strategies – National or Local, Few or Many?

Our research found that some Brand Giving Programs support a handful of national nonprofit organizations as Adidas does in their “Run for the Ocean” program focused on cleaning up plastic from our oceans while other Brand Giving Programs choose to give to thousands of nonprofits across the country and around the world.

Some Corporate Giving Programs aligned with their Brand values to support causes/nonprofits which best support their Brand purpose whereas other Corporate Giving Programs take a much boarder approach to support thousands of nonprofits across dozens of cause categories in hundreds of communities across the country.

Examples include:

  • Starbucks which supports coffee growing communities around the world
  • PetSmart which supports pet related causes around the country
  • North Face which supports outdoor and sustainability related causes
  • Target which takes a boarder approach and supports thousands of nonprofits across dozens of cause areas in communities around the country

Loyalty Customers Unaware of Your Brand’s “Good Works”

Corporate Community Giving Programs make an enormous difference to causes and communities across the country, yet your customers are unaware of the positive impact your Community Giving Programs make.

Community Giving Program impacts are hidden assets buried deep within ESG Reports. Your customers don’t take the time to read ESG Reports and are unaware of your Brand’s good works.

Furthermore, your most loyal customers have no stake, no connection, and no participation in how these dollars are donated to nonprofits.

Unite Community Giving + Loyalty Customers

Today, a few leading Brands such as Kroger and Target unite the power of Community Giving + Loyalty Customers to build customer engagement, deepen loyalty and deliver increased customer spend.

The strategic opportunity at hand is for your brand to enable your most loyal customers to participate in your ESG Community Giving Program.

The good news is your customers already care deeply about their communities, the environment, the arts, health, kid sports programs, education, elderly, victims of natural disasters, and hundreds of other causes.

Each year consumers participate in national and local giving events including Earth Day, Giving Tuesday, World Cancer Day, Black History Month, Pride Week, National Adopt A Shelter Pet Day and so many other meaningful causes.

Your customers will care that your Brand cares for the same causes and nonprofits that they do.

The key take-away is that Corporate Community Giving Programs are already donating billions to these causes and nonprofit organizations. It’s a great time to begin the conversation between Community Giving + Loyalty and together to make a difference to both your customers and nonprofit organizations.

The First Step: Community Giving + Customer Loyalty Leaders Talk

The first step in this journey is for Customer Loyalty Executives and ESG Community Giving Leaders to come together as partners to leverage their Brand’s hidden asset to deliver both improved social impact and better business impact.

The journey begins by discussing 4 Key Questions to connect your Brand’s Community Giving Program with an effective Loyalty Donation Rewards Program:

  1. How best to align your Community Giving priorities to your Brand values?
  • How best to define Giving Areas (Local or National) aligned to your business markets?
  • What’s a creative approach to establish a simple method for your customers to earn your giving currency as well as a simple way to “donate” your given currency to local, regional, or national causes aligned to your Brand?
  • How best to design and manage time bound themed Giving Campaigns that are relevant and meaningful to your customers and local markets across the country?

Loyalty members need to have “Skin in the game” to make giving a meaningful experience.  Your giving currency can be earned either separate from or in combination with your loyalty currency to reward members with privileged access, product or service discounts, free products, or other loyalty rewards.

A giving currency can be earned by a shopping experience instore or online, spending $1 or $1,000, or tied to purchasing promoted items, or as Adidas did, tie their giving currency to encourage their loyalty customers to “Run for the Ocean” and measure the number of minutes ran for the cause then converting the hours to dollars for their chosen nonprofits.

Making It Work

Corporate Giving Programs donate billions to nonprofits. Consumers care deeply about a Brand’s purpose and how a Brand is meaningfully contributing to make the world a better place.

Let’s spread the good word and bring Corporate Community Giving and Brand Loyalty programs together with the promise to make both a greater social impact and deliver improved bottom line results.