We are all used to hearing a company promote their charitable actions. We often dismiss them, believing that while good is being done, it’s really just a method to curry favor with potential customers, many people are paying attention. Research has shown that 9 out of 10 consumers expect a company’s focus to go beyond profits and to include environmental concerns. People are paying attention to how companies behave. But is there still a missing element? In this blog, I’m going to explore the difference between corporate responsibility and a cultural uprising.
Corporate Responsibility or Cultural Uprising
I have long been a believer in the corporate responsibility to give back. However, it’s one thing to have a CEO decide to dedicate man-hours to community service. It’s another thing when employees as a group decide to combine their human capital —their time, energy, passion, skills, networks, and charisma— to take on an otherwise impossible project and do good in the world. When that happens, giving back is no longer a vehicle for the company to fulfill their charitable obligations. Instead, the company is the vehicle by which the good is accomplished. That is a pretty remarkable shift.
The Power of the Grassroots Movement
Grassroots movements have long been one of the most powerful ways to organically accomplish change. Mahatma Gandhi has become one of the fathers of this philosophy. His peaceful protests lead to one of most remarkable cultural uprisings in history. While it may seem a bit lofty to compare a man like Gandhi to your company’s charity, the point is, sometimes the greatest change happens from the bottom up. The question remains, is that even possible?
Here’s a great example of how a company created an atmosphere to foster a cultural uprising.
Project Confidence: Unify Through Giving
Confidence was a 3-year-old girl in desperate need of a heart transplant. There was little hope for her in her home country. Thus began an 18-month project in which 100 employees of an Austin, Texas-based company called “Software Advice” rallied around her cause. Partnering with a non-profit called Heart Gift (an organization that helps partner companies with children in need or heart transplants and other surgeries), this employee organized project was resolved to find a way to help Confidence.
They began an initiative to raise the money for to pay for her travel and lodging. Confidence became like an adopted child of each member of the company. They worked tirelessly to raise the needed funds for her and followed her progress as she came to America to undergo surgery and began receiving other medical treatment. At the most recent update, Confidence was alive and well.
How Companies Can Foster a Cultural Uprising
I think the key to the puzzle is that charitability, giving back, and a cultural rising can’t be forced. People are beginning to learn the difference between corporate programs that are simply trying to meet the annual quota and a movement of people striving to do good. Here are three things you can do to foster a revolution:
- Be the platform for meaningful volunteer work: try finding ways your team’s expertise can be utilized. Find a project that will be on-going and the progress can be tracked and celebrated by all.
- Begin to build it into your brand: just as you are always looking for ways to become more efficient or increase the bottom line, make looking for charitable opportunities part of your DNA. In other words, if you only ever mention it at the annual meeting, it’s not really a part of who you are.
- Celebrate giving back: just as you would recognize a big project or sale, celebrate your employees’ collective contributions to giving back.
I would love to hear about how you or your company are promoting your charitable efforts in non-traditional ways. At Idea Agency, we believe in our community and have helped local non-profits in many ways from our many years’ commitment to volunteering as a team to our upcoming paint project (stay tuned for more details). As branding experts, we believe giving back to your community is an integral part of any successful brand. If you’d like to learn more about branding strategy or our unique branding process, please contact us or check out some of our work. Cultural Uprising is one of the many initiatives embraced by the Brand Establishment of which Idea Agency is a member.