Companies and Nonprofits Need Each Other More Than Ever

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Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR  

When the dust settles after COVID-19, every generation will have numerous memories to share and reflect upon. So will many organizations, both large and small for-profit and nonprofits, most of whom were severely affected. 

According to Double the Donation, a software donation platform, overall giving in the U.S. grew 4.1% last year for the 6th straight year of growth. Recent projections for this year paint a less than optimistic picture. 

With a few exceptions, businesses are also taking a hit due to the pandemic and accompanying unemployment rates. But herein also lies an opportunity for both sectors to help each other. 

Changing Values 

A recent article cited studies since the pandemic began that 78% of consumers in the U.S. want brands to address social justice issues. 87% said they would purchase products from companies that advocated for a cause or issue that was important to them. 76% also replied that they wouldn’t patronize a company that supported issues that were against their beliefs. And the biggest “tell’ was that 75% acknowledged that they would be inclined to patronize a new company if the values aligned with theirs. 

What Brands Can Do 

Marketers should know their customers. If they don’t, they need to act immediately to identify their values. There are several ways to do this. 

Brands with little or no budget can check out what their top competitors are doing, what causes they’re supporting, as well as pay attention to pages with customer comments, suggestions, etc. Going to the website of the cause or nonprofit competitor’s support can be revealing. Look at what they and their supporters say about the brand and its involvement. 

Another way is to recruit loyal customers who are representative of the brand’s target audience. Ask them to participate in a virtual focus group where important values and questions like those addressed above can be discussed. Doing so will give a clear picture of customer attitudes as well as the future intent regarding their continued buying. 

The final option is to commission a survey of people in the community who are representative of the brand’s target audience. The same kinds of questions that would be asked of the focus group will yield valuable information. 

The information gathered from one or more of the above studies should provide enough data on which to decide whether and where to direct brand efforts to collaborate with a cause or nonprofit. The next step would be to identify the potential partner and open discussions on that possibility. 

If an agreement is reached, a strategy and timetable on such a campaign needs to be drawn up and agreed to. This should include each party’s responsibilities, communicating the results regularly with each respective audience, and how the brand will be acknowledged. 

An important aspect often overlooked in such planning is the possible use of employees and pro-bono services. If the selected partner can also use volunteers, it can be vital in building employee loyalty. Pro bono services have financial value to the recipients, too, and are cheaper than an outright donation. 

“When the dust settles, I will only measure my success by the happiness that has ensued within myself and happiness I have brought in other people’s lives.” Mdoda Zondo, South African social scientist.


Ronn Torossian - How PR Firms Can Lead by Example with Diversity and InclusionAbout the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading digital PR and social media PR firm.