Charitable Giving Is Good Business

Read the original post published on the iCrossing Great Finds Blog on September 28, 2011.

It’s both good business and just plain good to make charitable giving part of your corporate growth plan. A charitable giving program can lead to an increase in sales, brand awareness, and positive consumer sentiment as word about your company’s effort spreads like wildfire. This blog posts shows you how companies such as Capital One, JCPenney, and Target use social media for charitable giving – and to encourage you to do some good of your own, I offer up my own cause for the Humane Society of the United States, as discussed later in this post.

Giving through Social Media

Target Corporation has always been well known for giving 5 percent of its income to charity. In 2009, Target wanted to get the public’s opinion on donation-worthy organizations. Target modified its Facebook page with a voting app and launched “Bullseye Gives.” Facebook members and Target shoppers could votes for 10 organizations deemed worthy of receiving donations from Target. Each time people voted, they could share their activity with their Facebook friends and incite additional voting (and awareness building) from peers. Capital One also allows for simple giving through its website. If donors use the Capital One No Hassle Giving Site for their charitable transactions, Capital One will pay the transaction fee to ensure that 100 percent of the donation goes to the intended charity. Capital One also gives nonprofit organizations the tools they may need to do some fundraising on their own and is helping to make fundraising through social media channel easy for deserving organizations.

Last holiday season, JCPenney teamed up with The Salvation Army for a joint campaign called “The Angel Giving Tree.” Each company had a page dedicated to the campaign on its site. Not only did this campaign help raise money for The Salvation Army, but participating companies were able to build positive online buzz through the use of these pages, the campaign, and their social media channels.

When a business gives, customers respond. People who believe it important to give back to society are going to spend money at companies that support important causes. And when people see a trusted company donate a large amount of money to, say, the Japan Disaster Relief Fund, they are encouraged to donate individually.

Individuals can also use social media as a way to raise funds and awareness and to help rally the troops through grass-roots giving. Each November in Minnesota, GiveMN.org organizes Give To The MAX Day on Twitter, enabling area nonprofits to spread the word about the organization and to receive donations from social media participants. Individual participants can then share what they donated and why, which builds even more awareness for the organizations. @HelpSpreadThis allows Twitter users to donate a tweet a day to raising awareness around child abuse and to help children in abusive households. Charity: Water has provided clean water for more than 2 million people throughout the past five years and goes above and beyond by offering individuals the ability to create their own campaign. Using MyCharity: Water, individuals can fund raise through their own pages that are set up to take donations — and 18 months later, can see the GPS and photos of the project they helped fund.

How Would You Like Use Social Media to Give?

Shameless plug alert: because the issues you care about online help define your online identity, I am doing a little fundraising of my own. I’m using Facebook’s Causes app to raise $500 for the Humane Society of the United States this year for my birthday. I’d love to have most of this money raised by early October. So if you would like to help provide for rescued animals and pets displaced by Hurricane Irene, please consider donating through My Birthday Wish page!

SEO Benefits of Charitable Giving

Not only are businesses giving back to important organizations and doing good when charitable giving is part of their business plan, but they are also experiencing another benefit as well. The amount of goodwill done for organizations can turn into a little bit of publicity and a lot of online benefit for the business itself.

Invariably, businesses generate a certain amount of buzz when they donate to charities or nonprofits. Businesses can encourage that buzz by talking about their donations via press releases, social media, and other forms of outreach. The resulting coverage by news media and bloggers, combined with a business’s own outreach, generates links to the business’s website and circulation of a keyword phrase or two to help with search engine relevancy. Savvy businesses can link their own their own websites and social media platforms to third-party citations for increased cross-promotion for themselves and their charity partners.

Businesses that give might also receive a static link from a charity’s website thanking the business for donating. Depending on the type of organization it is, this link could be a .org, .gov, or .edu link, which can pass more link equity on to the business’s site.

Also, each mention, release, or post about the donation will have a positive sentiment, which goes a long way in increasing the brand’s overall reputation.

If your business is considering including charitable giving in its business plan, or has donated to organizations in the past, please continue to keep up the good work! The overall benefit in increased sales, customer loyalty, brand awareness, and reputation building can go a long way to improve your business overall.

But don’t give just to get. Give because it’s the right thing to do.

Finally, please consider giving to my Birthday Wish to raise money for the Humane Society of the United States and help provide shelter for rescued pets. And if you want to see pictures of my rescued pets, just ask!