CONSCIOUS CONSUMERS CRAVE CONSCIOUS CAPITALISM

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giveback-sportsby Krista Kuhlman, Experiential Marketing Manager, Giveback Sports

Conscious capitalism, cause marketing, profit + purpose, – no matter what you call it, it’s revolutionizing corporations, organizations, and businesses across the country. Companies that value a dual purpose of increasing profitability, while bettering their communities and society, are quickly becoming the expectation of consumers today and generations to come. Increasingly more Fortune 500 companies are investing significant time and dollars into ways to authentically and seamlessly connect their products or services to causes with impact.

This noteworthy trend has emerged over the past ten years thanks to movement leaders like Patagonia, TOMs, and Warby Parker – iconic brands that baked this idea of “purpose” into their DNAs. By connecting the revenue-generating side with the charitable side of their businesses, socially progressive companies yield greater earnings and impact than they would keeping them separate. These companies differentiate themselves from the standard corporate social responsibility (CSR) of the past, to which companies feel they have a moral obligation to provide benefits to all stakeholders, conscious capitalism is about putting higher values and principles at the core of business operations. These profit + purpose businesses all have the same objective: sell more to help more. As EY Consulting Firm puts it, an easy way to think of CSR vs conscious capitalism is “where CSR could mean planting trees to offset carbon emissions, conscious capitalism could be choosing a business where planting lots of trees is how you make your money.”

In a global study by Cone Communications, 91% of consumers said they were likely to switch to a brand that supports a good cause and 92% said they would buy a product or service with a social or environmental benefit if given the opportunity. This provides a favorable circumstance for businesses not only attract customers and grow their bottom line, but also attract top talent as employees choose to work for companies with strong social credentials. Every business’ strategy will vary in different industries and different brands, but there are a few general recommendations for how to achieve a successful cause marketing partnership or campaign.

Organizations must find a cause that genuinely aligns with their business. Consumers are more informed than ever before to distinguish honest and authentic philanthropy verse insincere charitable giving used as a marketing tactic. This means businesses should choose causes that their employees, customers, and consumers believe in to relate to the overall mission and vision of the company. Organizations also need to stray away from strictly cash donations. Yes, money is always helpful and necessary, but when employees give their time and knowledge it can be just as powerful. Lastly, make the impact known! Consumers want transparency on how brands and businesses are positively affecting communities and the world. Social media is a great place to spread cause + brand awareness, highlight the organization’s work and accomplishments, and encourage others to get involved to be the change.

Conscious capitalism is the future of business. Cause marketing is the strategy for promoting a company’s social impact through means greater than monetary contributions. And profit + purpose is the powerful idea that organizations are meant to have a greater function and intention than the bottom line.

8 FUNDRAISING GALAS MUST-HAVES

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by Krista Kuhlman, Experiential Marketing Manager at Giveback Sports, LLC.

giveback-sportsFundraising galas are essential to nonprofit resource generation and help to create a buzz around the event’s cause that can last long after the event’s end. However, these galas are no small feat. They can take months upon months of planning, require substantial investments and endless details. Although an event to-do list is never-ending, below are 8 fundraiser must-haves to make the most of your next gala.

  1. Pre-event promotion – Timing is everything when it comes to promoting an event. Giving enough time for attendees to save the date is critical, but too much time can make the event lose relevancy. A general rule of thumb is to start advertising the event about 3-5 months in advance of the event date, with a heavy focus on the final few months leading up to the day. One important thing to remember is to not announce or promote the event without the majority of details finalized to avoid keeping guests waiting for additional information and to ensure consistent messaging. Encourage guests to purchase tickets early for the event by selecting winners at random from those registered to win a small prize or send teasers to potential attendees of the grand raffle prize or silent auction items.
  1. Story-telling – Fundraising galas are a night to celebrate the wonderful work nonprofits do in our communities and world. Attendees want to hear how the funds raised at the event affect the organization and what the organization’s vision is for its future. Use this opportunity to pull at the heart strings of attendees and allow them to see the impact donors have on the cause. The power of story-telling goes beyond the four walls of the event as those in attendance find a deeper connection to spread those stories through word-of-mouth.
  1. Have a hashtag – Hashtags are an effective and easy marketing tool to utilize at a fundraising gala. It allows all online conversation about the event to be grouped into a simple search and lets the audience connect to each other. It also increases event exposure and encourages social media users to find out more. However, if the audience does not know about the hashtag, they won’t use it, so make sure the hashtag is promoted on event signage, marketing collateral, website, social posts, and by the event speakers. A few tips to the perfect hashtag include making it short, unique, and relevant, avoiding hashtags that could be misinterpreted or have an unplanned negative connotation.
  1. Raffle – A raffle or “split the pot” is a simple way to raise additional funds at an event. Having the right priced raffle ticket – between $50-$100 is recommended – allows attendees, no matter their wallet size, be able to participate in a chance to win a coveted prize. Guests like raffles because there is typically a low barrier to entry with a small investment. Even if they are not the lucky winner, their dollars are going to support the cause. Raffles can also be promoted before and after the event to generate even more money from people outside of the event attendees.
  1. Auction – Holding an auction can be a lot of work, but totally worth it for the fun and engaging way to raise money at a gala. A live auction creates energy and builds momentum on items, helping to raise more money with friendly competition. A silent auction can be held over an extended period of time and allows for people outside of the event audience to be contributors, especially with mobile and online bidding. A live auction typically generates about two-thirds of a fundraiser revenue, while a silent auction is closer to one-third. However, offering the right number of items and the right types of items can be difficult to determine. A good rule of thumb is to offer about 6-12 live auction items and one silent auction item for every 7 guests.
  1. Content – Content from the fundraiser, including pictures, videos, and social media posts, are shareable forms of communication for attendees to enjoy following the event and makes them feel appreciated. Content also creates “FOMO” (fear of missing out) for those not in attendance and sparks interest in the next fundraiser or event. Posting pictures and videos to an organization’s website and social platforms helps to keep the event experience alive after the event conclusion and can be used in promotional material for future fundraisers.
  1. Party Favors – Stay top of mind following the end of a fundraiser by giving guests something to take home. An easy “favor” to have is a photo booth at the event where guests can take home pictures of the memorable night or download and share directly to social media. A branded item that ties into the cause, such as a personalized card telling the story of a child in need that the organization supports through donations, is another way to provide a reminder of the event and organization. A great example is the Alzheimer’s Association supplying colored windmills at End Alzheimer Walks. Participants can personalize these windmills with names of those affected by the disease and place them in their yards at home as a constant and personal keepsake.
  1. Follow-up – The final “must-have” of a fundraiser gala is to always send a personalized thank you message, expressing appreciation towards all event attendees, sponsors, committees, and volunteers. The message should report on the total amount raised and crediting donors with the event’s success. It can also begin getting the word out for the next fundraiser or annual gala, as well as ask attendees for feedback from the fundraiser for improvements for next year.

As challenging as planning, managing, and executing an organization’s fundraiser can be, the benefits of money raised, brand awareness, and allowing guests to find a deeper connection with the cause, can immensely improve a nonprofit for the better.

COST-EFFICIENT WAYS TO ENGAGE THE MILLENNIAL WORKFORCE

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Krista Kuhlman, Experiential Marketing Manager at Giveback Sports, LLC

giveback-sportsAs Millennials are now the largest age group in the workforce, there is no better time than now to cross-check employee incentive programs in order to attract, maintain, and secure the tenure of these employees. For Millennials, employee appreciation is key, and can be easy to implement in ways outside a traditional promotion, which can come at the expense of time and money for the company. Employees that feel appreciated become more invested, loyal, and productive. Learn how to motivate and engage employees with some of the top incentives Millennials are expecting in their careers that all organizations can implement.

  1. Wellness Benefits and Programs – Establishing a company wellness program may sound like a hefty investment of resources but can actually be quite simple to execute with an extremely positive impact on employees’ mental and physical health. Increased employee health can help the company save in health care premiums, absenteeism, and boost employee retention. Low-cost ideas include on-site massage chairs, free healthy snacks, flexible work schedules, corporate health discounts for local gyms, and designated areas in the office where employees are encouraged to de-stress and take a break from their work for a few minutes.
  1. Travel and Experience Rewards – It’s not a new revelation that Millennials value experiences over things. Seventy-eight percent of Millennials would choose to spend money on an experience or event over buying something desirable (Harris Corp. study). This is good news for companies as they look to incentivize employees. Although promotions are valued by Millennials, a more cost-efficient approach is offering a vacation, concert tickets, weekend getaway, or similar experiences to motivate and engage employees to achieve a certain goal. According to Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, “use of incentive travel as a key business strategy is growing at a brisk rate” and organizations are leveraging travel to drive employee retention, plus health and wellness.
  1. Company Celebrations and Events – Company success cannot happen without the tireless efforts of its employees. It is important to connect employees to the organization’s performance and recognize the value each employee contributes, both in and out of the workplace. Simple celebrations of employees’ birthdays and personal achievement, such as a wedding or new baby, are simple ways to recognize employees on an individual level. Project achievements highlight a team’s effort and lets employees know their dedication has meaning, helping to keep them engaged and excited about their work. Annual year-end or holiday parties are a fun way to allow employees to reflect on the organization’s accomplishments and spend time with one another in a stress-free environment. All of these celebrations help connect employees with each other, as well as increase motivation and engagement.
  1. Volunteer and Community-Based Projects – Millennial employees want to support their communities and causes they care about. Organizations that value giving back and encourage employees to take time to make a difference are increasingly more attractive to this workforce than those that do not. Companies can offer annual or quarterly service days to support a local food bank or humane society. Businesses can also partner with local schools to set up reading clubs between students and employees, or even offer paid time off for mission or service trips to impact people and causes around the nation and world. Organizations that show their commitment to purpose, in addition to business accomplishments and bottom lines, will gain greater loyalty and respect from employees.
  1. Team Building Activities – Team building activities are a simple way to nurture employee engagement, encourage teamwork, and should be integrated into a company’s engagement strategy. These activities foster relationships between employees, allow staff from different teams, departments, and management levels to bond on a personal level, and most activities can cost the company little to no money. Working lunches, basketball or flag football tournaments, wine tastings, or a ropes course are all great ways to give employees an opportunity to spend time together and can foster creativity, optimism, communication and productivity.

In the current economy, businesses overlooking the need to engage employees are jeopardizing retention of top talent. This is especially true with Millennials who, unlike their parents, will not settle in a career that does not provide them with the programs, benefits, and incentives they crave. It is important for companies to build robust employee engagement strategies, with or without large budgets, in order to create a culture of happy, healthy, committed, and energized employees.