Porter Novelli 26 Nov 2018 // 10:30AM GMT
The holiday season is upon us once again – with all its attendant rituals. The carving of the turkey. A game of touch football. For me, a hockey match. Those first purchases during the increasingly borderless Black Friday and Cyber Monday spending sprees of consumerism also usher in the season of giving. Those end-of-year charitable contributions. The tokens of appreciation to favorite charities and trips to food banks or shelters to help those less fortunate.
For the past seven years, #GivingTuesday has sought to harness that generosity into a sustained movement that brings meaningful change to communities worldwide. The brainchild of New York’s 92nd Street Y in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, #GivingTuesday reaffirms our humanity, celebrating that we are more than the sum total of our expenditures.
Whether it’s donating cash, clothes, a metro seat, time, talent or even a kidney, the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving – when our stomachs are stuffed and our wallets noticeably lighter – has nothing to do with what we get. It’s all about what we give back.
As communications professionals and corporate advisors, we have the influence – dare I say duty – to turn #GivingTuesday into the season’s newest ritual, to help the companies we represent invent their own giving rituals around the values they, their employees, and their communities stand for. Think of it as an annuity: if you get it right, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Studies show that’s exactly what consumers are craving. Increasingly, people feel more connected to brands and companies that align with the social causes that fit their beliefs. Our 2018 Cone/Porter Novelli study found that 88% of consumers buy based on their values, and they’re not shy about jumping ship when those values misalign.
Further, some 80% believe companies must embrace the need to positively impact society as much as they focus on boosting their bottom lines. Authentically assisting organizations locally and globally is a business imperative that corporate leaders must embrace.
#GivingTuesday presents an incredible opportunity for purpose-driven brands to build on their momentum and to test out new fundraising techniques, tools, and messaging in support of their true causes. Consumers are hungry for connections on issues that matter, and brands are in a position to make meaningful societal differences on a global scale.
Whether tackling social-justice issues or one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, marketers must identify purpose-focused activations that align with their business goals and culture. Brand leaders that zero in on purpose with laser focus will thrive. Those that don’t might just face unwanted consumer backlash.
There’s never been a better time to make a powerful statement about what you stand for as a brand. Disenchanted global citizens seek brands and causes that unite and bridge great world divides. They are increasingly looking to corporations to fill a perceived leadership vacuum. Our Porter Novelli study found that more than half of American consumers, for example, expect companies to take the lead in addressing major issues in the absence of government progress.
In this super-connected, new-power world where information is uploaded by the people rather than downloaded by leaders, brands can no longer simply stamp their mark on the world like cattle ranchers brand their steer. Our job is to help people stamp our brands in their own terms, to become co-owners instead of mere admirers and consumers.
In #GivingTuesday terms, that means everyone with a stake in a company is invited to use their creativity and passion to support the collective cause. Think matching programs and challenges, goals that reach beyond the wallet.
As #GivingTuesday founder and 92nd Street Y CEO Henry Timms said recently, #GivingTuesday is not the day to treat donors like ATM machines. It’s a way to mobilize communities around the values they stand for. We’re thinking long term. And scaled-up corporate giving in all its various forms could prove to be the game changer the world needs now.
Imagine this. Your juice company this #GivingTuesday liberates employees for a morning of do-giving, whether it’s whipping up fresh veggie beverages for the homeless or talking to students about the benefits of leafy greens. Maybe your publishing enterprise offers matching gifts for donations to literacy programs.
You don’t have to imagine. With November 27 just around the corner, make it a reality. Whatever your level of engagement, there’s a moral and business imperative to do something in support of the global-giving movement. Anyone, anywhere, can get involved. This toolkit is full of ideas on ways to help and promote your support. Volunteer, collaborate, and get social.
By Brad MacAfee, CEO, Porter Novelli