Giving back to the community is a double win for businesses. Not only do they help lift up the people that help keep them in business, they also get a major boost to their reputation. But exactly how a business should go about contributing in the most ethical way has long been a topic of debate. The standard method of fundraising and donation is, in the eyes of many, not sustainable. Fortunately, there’s a new philosophy developing, and it could revolutionize the relationship between nonprofits and businesses.
It’s the perfect time for closer relationships between charitable organizations and businesses too. The rise of the internet has made it easier than ever before for customers to research the companies they do business with, and there’s a growing understanding that millennials see brand loyalty as being predicated on a shared system of values. That means that companies that build close working relationships with organizations that do good in the community can get an edge on the competition. That’s a far cry from the old model which promoted slashing costs above all else, and it’s a sensible way for smaller businesses that might have less capital to leverage to find a niche in their markets.
So what’s the solution? It could be to ditch short-term goals in favor of long-term ones. As consumers see more and more companies stripping away the environment and bleeding away their communities for the sake of quarterly earnings reports, a business that takes substantive steps to minimize their negative impact can be a powerful force for good. This can start with the integration of small methods into a company’s business model. The first step is transparency. Make clear what your hiring practices and work conditions are, and let the public market evaluate the good you do. When criticism arises, confront it head on. Employing new models like using recycled goods and taking a stand on sustainable work practices shows the consumer both that you’re willing to invest in ethical methodology and that you see loyalty as a double-sided process where you give as much as you expect to get.
Once you have your business’ ethical model in place, it’s easier to find partners to work with. It can be important to focus your attention. Perhaps your company is passionate about environmental sustainability or decreasing the rate of poverty. These shouldn’t be seen as short-term marketing initiatives but rather as long term objectives. Sit down to develop plans for a year, five years, ten years down the road, and then start looking for partners to work with.
The future of business is one where ethics are strongly integrated with a company’s brand identity. Branding can no longer just be about marketing. It needs to be rooted in a philosophical standard, and it needs to be both embedded within your company’s culture and broadcast to consumers through a transparent approach to communications.