First, let’s be clear: Brands do not and should not launch corporate philanthropy programs to raise brand awareness or win an award.
They do it because giving back is the right thing to do, and because companies are global citizens that have a responsibility to try to make the world a better place. But if, in the process of improving life for those in their little corner of the world, they raise their corporate profile, it’s a nice bonus – a win-win, as business owners cutting a deal would say.
Have you heard the story about Kiddie Academy, which won Franchise Update Media’s 2022 Cause Marketing Champion award for its work with the nonprofit Family Promise?
Case Study: Kiddie Academy
Kiddie Academy, a childcare franchise based in Maryland with more than 300 locations, wanted to celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2021 in a creative and meaningful way. So, Kiddie Academy decided to make a $40,000 donation to Family Promise, a national nonprofit that supports families who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness. The donation established a scholarship fund for underprivileged women who wish to work in early childhood education, no matter which childcare they may work for.
Additionally, Kiddie Academy updated its corporate policies to be more working parent-friendly and published blogs, social posts and other relevant content about how franchisees can support working mothers with flexible schedules and benefits. With the help of a PR agency, Kiddie Academy sent out news releases and shared posts organically. The franchise’s changes to its policies in support of working parents led to being named one of Baltimore Business Journal’s “10 Best Places to Work in Baltimore.”
And that’s not all. The combination of a sizable donation, internal change and a nice placement on a prominent list of best places to work equaled PR magic: a mention on the TODAY Show website and other PR wins worth an estimated $1.6 million in ad value equivalency.
Why Corporate Philanthropy?
If your franchise brand wants to be a better corporate citizen, aligning with a nonprofit related to your industry or that serves the same audience or geographic area is a great first step.
Partnering with a nonprofit helps you to:
- Reach new audiences. A nonprofit’s patrons may not have heard of you before, but they clearly have a soft spot for the organization’s mission. They will appreciate your support of the charity, also.
- Increase brand loyalty. Consumers appreciate a brand that takes a stand. A 2018 Accenture consumer survey showed that consumers prefer to support brands that embrace social change initiatives.
How To Be a Good Partner
At the most basic level, charities need cash to carry out their missions. However, there are a number of avenues through which you can funnel cash or other donations to help your nonprofit partner and make the most of your good deeds in the process.
Drive for Donations.
Whether it’s a food pantry or a nonprofit that supports single moms, there are charities that spend countless hours just to meet people’s basic needs. One of Curious Jane’s clients, One More Child, is a faith-based charity that works to meet the needs of children and families. Over the years, the agency’s employees have brought in cases of diapers for Mother’s Day, and one Thanksgiving, they competed to see which team could donate the most canned goods (the sneaky Digital Team arranged for a late delivery from Instacart to secure the win). There are charities doing this kind of critical work in every community, and they certainly would appreciate anything your franchise or team does to pitch in. There’s no shame in sending a photo to your local media for a little free publicity for your business and the charity.
Be a Sponsor.
Sponsorships of fundraising events and programs are among the easiest ways to help your charity. If your brand can’t swing a major sponsorship right now, consider donating services or goods for a silent auction, sponsoring dessert or the band at a dinner or buying tickets to their gala. You’ll get your business’s name listed on the program, signage, etc., to let attendees know you’re a good corporate partner.
Taking a page from Kiddie Academy’s playbook, brands marking a major milestone could invite a charity to share in the spotlight. You could charge for admission and donate the proceeds or ask attendees to bring in canned goods, toys or other items the charity needs. You are likely to attract a bigger crowd and secure news coverage if your celebration benefits a nonprofit. As a bonus, such an event could open doors for you to introduce more of your business partners and vendors to the charity, which could help them secure even more donations down the road.
Your franchise brand can earn positive coverage, raise brand awareness and attract new and loyal customers just by supporting a nonprofit that you most likely would support anyway. And the nonprofit and its clients benefit from your support and also from the media coverage you receive. It’s the ultimate win-win.