These days, it’s next to impossible to turn away from the seemingly neverending parade of dilemmas plaguing our world. The dizzying speed at which information now travels has borne a new generation of informed consumers, who seek solutions to global issues that only entities with sufficient financial pull can provide. What results is a symbiosis of sorts, between companies aiming to adopt philanthropy as a quality of their brand, and consumers willing to purchase products from the companies whose charitable acts have the largest impact.
When planning for philanthropy, businesses strike a balance between charity and promotion. Genuine efforts are a must, as indicated by a 2017 study on corporate social responsibility (CSR), which found that 65% of consumers check to see whether a company’s philanthropic stances are backed by actual results. The study also showed that 87% of consumers prefer the products of companies who advocate for a cause, however 76% said they would avoid purchasing from companies whose stances conflict with their own. Most companies would rather not polarize their consumer base, and therefore choose to tackle universal issues such as hunger or homelessness.
Subaru, for instance, has cultivated a brand reputation as outdoorsy, reliable, inclusive and kind. To substantiate this image, they support well-reputed, non-controversial charities like the ASPCA, the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and Meals On Wheels. Subaru’s philanthropy campaigns–such as their Share the Love program, in which, for each purchased vehicle, the company donates $250 to numerous nonprofits–draw in passionate, charity-minded employees who encourage each other to volunteer. By serving up dinner with Meals On Wheels, erecting homes with Habitat for Humanity, and more, Subaru employees contribute measurably to global wellbeing, and build their brand’s authenticity one new house at a time.
Subaru is far from the only company dreaming up creative ways to make an impact, however. Discovery Communications, creator of TV programs like “Shark Week” and “Deadliest Catch,” has committed to preserving over one million acres of land in India and Bhutan, upon which it plans to double the world’s tiger population over the next five years. Online invitation service Evite has created a feature that lets users opt out of bringing a gift to the party, in exchange for making a donation to one of 150,000 charities. Another popular approach–mainly utilized by attire companies–is the “buy a pair, and we’ll donate a pair” strategy recently adopted by eyeglass retailer Warby Parker, and Tom’s, a shoe vendor.
As the world’s problems become increasingly visible, so too does the role companies play in solving them. Consumers wired into a daily feed of tragedy and suffering demand answers, and it’s likely the brands that best embody philanthropic solutions are setting a gold standard for modern CSR.