Social and environmental problems are growing at a faster rate than philanthropic dollars can keep pace. What’s the world to do? I’ve recently written about a couple of ways people and organizations can do more good — impact investing, crowd funding and scaling effective and efficient nonprofits.
But, as the old ads used to say, wait, there’s more!
Growing evidence shows that when corporations do good, they can do well — increase the bottom line — at the same time. Whether you’re just starting out or perfecting what you’re already doing, Good Works! Marketing and Corporate Initiatives That Build a Better World…and the Bottom Line by Philip Kotler, David Hessekiel and Nancy R. Lee provides practical tips and advice.
Now, some of you may not be convinced that corporate social initiatives can benefit the bottom line, but the book dispels those doubts with hard facts. Here are just a couple:
- 94% of consumers would switch brands to one that supports a social cause if price and quality were about the same, according a 2011 research report by Cone Communications. That’s up from 66% in 1993.
- Corporations that “endear” themselves to all stakeholders wildly outperform the broader stock market, according to research conducted by Rajendra Sisodia, David Wolfe and Jagdish Sheth.
Leading business people agree and not just those known for their social responsibility, such as John B. Replogle, President and CEO of Seventh Generation. Jeffery Immelt, Chairman and CEO of GE agrees. And so do virtually all of the largest companies in the world: 95% of the Global Fortune 250 report on their social responsibility activities, according to KMPG.
They do so because corporate social initiatives:
- increase sales and market share
- strengthen brand positioning
- enhance corporate image and clout
- increase ability to attract, motivate and retain employees
- decrease operating costs
- increase appeal to investors and financial analysts
The book details six ways to integrate corporate social initiatives into your business:
- cause promotion: a corporation provides money, in-kind contributions, etc. that are used to generate awareness, increase revenue or bring in volunteers
- cause-related marketing: a corporation links monetary or in-kind donations to product sales or others consumer action
- corporate social marketing: a corporation supports a campaign to change behavior, such as improving health
- corporate philanthropy: a direct contribution of grant dollars, donations and/or in-kind services
- workforce volunteering: a corporation encourages employees to volunteer
- socially responsible business practices: a corporation implements business practices that improve the community and protect the environment
Detailed case studies are provided on companies that incorporate social initiatives exceedingly well. My favorite aspect of the book is the use of charts to give a snapshot of:
- what specific companies are doing
- examples of each corporate social initiative
- benefits from corporate social initiatives
- concerns in undertaking initiatives
- strengths to maximize and concerns to minimize
This isn’t a book just for big corporations. Small businesses, many of whom are already integrating social initiatives into the fabric of their companies, will benefit as well. For those who aren’t already thinking about social responsibility, this book will motivate them to start and give them some ideas about new ways to increase their bottom line. A separate chapter is aimed at nonprofits and public sector agencies but, honestly, they should read the whole book. It’s an investment of time that will pay off.