Business That Cares

The month of January is named following the god Janus, the god with two minds, one looking behind and one excited. Apparently the god Saturn, gave Janus the introspective ability to see into the past and the present of seeing into the future. I can make no claims of experiencing god-like capabilities, but in reviewing days gone by year’s tales and tweets, it appears that there is a craze is to find newer and better ways for business to do good.

And they are the styles I see that’ll be significant in the year of 2011 for creating positive new directions running a business philanthropy. More and more studies in public psychology and behavioral economics have been dealing with the question of what motivates people to give. Businesses expecting to use cause marketing and to participate their customers in giving, and non-profits seeking to find ways to get more value off their corporate sponsorships should tap into these clinical tests more.

Take for example, the recent research about amusement recreation area goers who paid more because of their photos on a ride when they could choose their own price and the profits visited charity. Skeptics of the Panera Cares BUSINESS DESIGN, (we profiled their first cafe opening, St Louis Bread Company Cares) which can be an example of this type of approach, should check out the video on CBS News.

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For more clinical tests on consumer offering behavior check out: Ways Your Company CAN PROVIDE More Bang For the Buck. This past year I predicted that Cause Marketing and Corporate Giving wood be more differentiated. Well, I had been wrong. The lines have got even blurrier between CSR, Employee Volunteerism, EVP, Cause Marketing, and Corporate Giving. Is it more they are distinctions or that they justifiably fall under the CSR umbrella?

More and people cite all of these in the context of one another and frequently interchangeably. Beth Kanter suggests in her blog post. Corporate Altruism: The Blurring of the Lines Between CSR and Cause Marketing that possibly the lines do not distinguish one fore another but that it’s more of a continuum. Season has been fighting finding a definition of itself CSR earlier this, but more than being a continuum, I love the image of the overencompassing arc, like this of the umbrella.

Employers are seeing that when giving back to the community is a company grassroots effort, not only will there be more buy-in from the employees, the more total offering in time and money, but more devotion returned to the company also. Using social media to involve the public in making your choice for a company’s giving will increase and bigger. As businesses shall continue steadily to involve the general public in their giving programs, so will the public be more mixed up in judgment of corporate and business giving. Witness the outcry within the Punk Buckets for a remedy, BOBS Shoes and Target’s financing of political marketing campaign.

While some of the public will want to be more included in corporate providing, others like Michael Hiltzik of the LA Times (who offered us an awesome raise your voice) may choose to be left only with their own philanthropy. Whatever an organization will, you can be certain the public will be viewing to make sure a company’s providing is neither insincere, nor causing harm in any way other way, nor plain dumb just. Even though many were dubious of Panera’s business model, more and businesses are discovering innovative philanthropic business models. Even staid Nordstrom is planning to open a philanthropic section store in Manhattan with all earnings heading to charity.