business.com receives compensation from some of the companies listed on this page. Advertising Disclosure
BDC Hamburger Icon

MENU

Close
BDC Logo
Search Icon
Updated Jan 31, 2024

5 Ways to Promote Your Business With Charitable Marketing

Giving back helps the community and boosts your company’s reputation.

author image
Julie Thompson, Senior Writer & Expert on Business Operations
Verified CheckEditor Verified
Verified Check
Editor Verified
Close
A business.com editor verified this analysis to ensure it meets our standards for accuracy, expertise and integrity.

Table of Contents

Open row

In today’s environment, companies are no longer judged solely on their bottom line; the role they play in the community also affects their reputation. Charitable giving not only helps the communities and causes that a business supports but also improves the company’s image.

The way you go about marketing your charitable efforts can either boost or tarnish your company’s public relations. Consumers are getting better at distinguishing the companies that are just trying to improve their image from those that actually care about the causes they are supporting. 

Read on to learn how you can successfully promote your business with charitable marketing.

How to promote your business with charitable marketing

Employing these strategies can help your business find success with charitable marketing.

Get people talking about you in a positive way.

To get business done, you must build customer relationships. One way to do that is to let people see that you’re giving back to the communities that support you. Rather than simply writing checks or donating food to good causes, companies become a force for positive change while enhancing customer appeal and long-term competitiveness. As a result, some companies have reconceived their products to address social issues, while others have transformed their supply chains.

Did You Know?Did you know
In 2022, giving increased from corporations (3.4 percent increase from 2021) and foundations (2.5 percent increase from 2021), according to the National Philanthropic Trust. But the largest charitable giving came from individuals, who represented 64 percent of total giving in 2022.

It’s not just your customers who will praise your social responsibility; your employees will as well. Millennials, who are currently the largest generation in today’s workforce, care very much about social responsibility and often factor it in when choosing where to work.

A global survey from the IBM Institute for Business Value found that 71 percent of employees and employment seekers want to work for environmentally sustainable companies. Nearly half of those surveyed would accept a lower salary to work for an environmentally and socially responsible organization.

How can your company apply this strategy? All businesses, regardless of their size, can benefit from targeted charitable marketing. First, make storytelling a central part of your charitable marketing efforts. Use your website, social media platforms and email newsletters to showcase the stories of your company and founder. Additionally, you can tell your customers’ stories through testimonials and case studies. Use photos and videos to complement each narrative as much as possible.

Go green.

Many green initiatives call for an upfront investment that can save a lot of money over time. For example, you can install energy-efficient LED light bulbs, which can last approximately 20 years, and slash utility bills with little upfront cost. Likewise, adding solar panels to the roof of a warehouse can generate electricity and allow you to buy a lot less energy from the local utility company.

TipBottom line
Businesses can take advantage of climate-friendly tax credits. Tax credits include those for reduced emissions, energy efficiency, solar energy and more. Reducing your company’s carbon footprint benefits everyone.

How can your company apply this strategy? Going green is a win-win, and it doesn’t always require a huge investment. Reducing packaging, for example, can mean you spend less on raw materials while also being able to advertise a new and more environmentally friendly package design. In addition, purchasing locally sourced ingredients or products helps both the planet and local companies. Likewise, modifying an office to be more energy-efficient can reduce heating and cooling bills.

Partner with a charity.

Although your reasons may be wholly altruistic, you can still set giving goals. For instance, if you have a family member who has a particular medical condition, you may want to target charities helping those with the disease.

You could also tie your charitable contributions to your products or services. For instance, if your market is parents with young children, you could choose charities such as children’s hospitals or educational initiatives. A good example is Savings.com’s savingsCARES initiative, which directs a portion of the savings shoppers receive by using the site’s coupons to support a range of important causes worldwide.

As an alternative to monetary donations, you could partner with charities to provide a service. For instance, a laundromat or dry cleaning business could volunteer to clean clothing for people who are experiencing homelessness.

How can your company apply this strategy? When you partner with a charity, be creative. Consider a local one that aligns with your values and niche instead of choosing a well-known one. Start by donating company products that will benefit the organization in an impactful way or that will be designated to a specific charity event or fundraiser. The organization can cross-promote your business and products, giving you access to many new leads and potential revenue.

Be transparent.

Don’t overpromise and underdeliver. You are running a business that needs to pay rent, utilities and your staff, so take the time to do the required budgetary planning to sustain that contribution. Seek legal counsel if you are unsure of how to partner with a charity.

How can your company apply this strategy? Supporting a cause can increase your business’s engagement with both your customers and your employees. It can also help expand your investor and partner network.

Develop the market.

Other kinds of giving can also be regarded as charitable investments. For example, technology companies often support organizations that seek to provide more children with the opportunity to learn about computers. This is a charitable action that brings them a lot of good press, but it’s also good for the industry over the long term.

Tech businesses need a base of customers who care about using technology and feel good about it, and they need access to employees with the right skills to produce value for their organizations. By putting money into helping kids develop these interests, they’re encouraging them to grow into the sort of people who will be good students, employees and customers.

How can your company apply this strategy? Donate your old computers and tablets to organizations specifically set up to provide refurbished computer equipment to kids, such as Computers for Kids or Computers with Causes.

Examples of charitable marketing

Consider these examples of how top brands successfully promote their business with charitable marketing:

  • TOMS has had philanthropy on its mind since the company started selling shoes. Over the years, the globally recognized brand still gives one-third of its profits to a range of grassroots organizations.
  • The eyewear brand Warby Parker utilizes charitable marketing to offer free eyeglasses and exams to students in need while also training adults to administer essential eye exams and sell glasses affordably.
TipBottom line
Amazon, Walmart and Verizon have all made pledges to reduce their carbon emissions over the next decade.
  • Swedish furniture store IKEA currently uses wood that is 99.9 percent Forest Stewardship Council-certified or recycled, and 100 percent of its cotton comes from Better Cotton farms. Over 935,000 solar panels power its stores, and employees have received bikes to encourage them to lower their carbon footprint. In this case, IKEA’s charity marketing benefits its sustainability and its customers, and engages its employees.
  • Bombas, best known for its socks, donates an item for every purchase (one for one). Bombas partners with over 3,500 giving partners nationwide, including shelters, street outreaches, rehabilitation centers, schools and medical services. The company has donated over 100 million items, including the top three requested items in homeless shelters: T-shirts, socks and underwear.

Mistakes to avoid with charitable marketing 

Before you leap into charitable marketing, it’s essential to keep your business’s heart at the core. The more genuine the cause, the better it will be for your company and the chosen charity. Here are some common pitfalls to avoid.

The cause doesn’t align with your business.

You must support a cause that aligns with your company. Whether the cause supports your company mission, needs your products or connects you to the local community, your choice can have long-term effects on your brand.

TipBottom line
When you're choosing a cause, ask employees for their input. If there is a common cause, it will be easier to build relationships with your employees, boost productivity goals to give more financially and provide the organization with volunteers within your company for extra hands on the ground.

The cause lacks transparency.

To successfully support a cause, you will need support from your employees and customers. The more transparent you can be with your intentions and actions, the better.

Create a webpage that details all of your philanthropy efforts. Notify your employees and customers of all the details in an email newsletter or direct mailing. The more you focus on the cause, the easier it will be to motivate others to get involved.

The cause falls flat on social media.

Blasting your cause on every social media platform may be tempting, but oversharing can waste time and resources for most companies. Choose and focus on the social media platforms that engage most of your audience.

Remember to use video to build your brand; it can help tell a visual story, thereby compelling others to understand your vision and inspiring them to help. Sprinkle your cause within your feed, and ensure a healthy mix of behind-the-scenes stories, FAQ, polls and informative posts.

The benefits of charitable marketing 

In business, being charitable doesn’t have to be pure sacrifice. Companies that go out of their way to give back to the community and make sure that people feel good about being their employees or customers get a lot of benefits in the process.

Outshine the competition

You might have an excellent product, great customer service and a winning social media strategy, but you could remain stagnant without putting social responsibility at the forefront. According to Mailchimp, 70 percent of consumers are interested in social and environmental issues. 

By utilizing charitable marketing, your company can stand out by appealing to your base. When you are transparent about your cause, consumers are more likely to spread the word and build brand loyalty.

Recruit and retain top talent

According to Gartner, 65 percent of employees prefer to work for organizations that value social and environmental causes. Focusing on charitable marketing can help you recruit and retain top talent.

Having a team that shares your company’s social and ecological values can boost morale, increase engagement and help employees connect internally on a deeper level. Charitable campaigns can create new avenues of company transparency that will build trust and growth.

Increase sales

Once you have inspired your customers and motivated your employees, your sales will increase. Having a charitable cause gives purpose to the people who are making and buying your products.

Continue to monitor your charitable marketing to see if the campaign succeeds consistently or if you need to make a change. After a campaign has run its course, consider polling employees and customers to see where to go next. Keeping a pulse on your target audience is helpful for charitable marketing and the overall sustainability of your business.

author image
Julie Thompson, Senior Writer & Expert on Business Operations
With nearly two decades of experience under her belt, Julie Thompson is a seasoned B2B professional dedicated to enhancing business performance through strategic sales, marketing and operational initiatives. Her extensive portfolio boasts achievements in crafting brand standards, devising innovative marketing strategies, driving successful email campaigns and orchestrating impactful media outreach. Thompson's proficiency extends to Salesforce administration, database management and lead generation, reflecting her versatile skill set and hands-on approach to business enhancement. Through easily digestible guides, she demystifies complex topics such as SaaS technology, finance trends, HR practices and effective marketing and branding strategies. Moreover, Thompson's commitment to fostering global entrepreneurship is evident through her contributions to Kiva, an organization dedicated to supporting small businesses in underserved communities worldwide.
BDC Logo

Get Weekly 5-Minute Business Advice

B. newsletter is your digest of bite-sized news, thought & brand leadership, and entertainment. All in one email.

Back to top