The act of giving back to the communities we live in can stem from a variety of motivations. As a business owner, you may do so to support a cause you personally support or a charity that’s close to your heart. As an individual, it may come from a desire to make a difference and feel good about it.
No matter what compels you, the landscape of giving is changing. In fact, a recent Mintel study highlights what’s shifting and how your business can adapt.
Volunteering is Up
While the great recession and its aftermath put a dent in the economies of giving, it apparently did nothing to dampen the desire to make a difference. Perhaps this is why volunteering has become more popular globally now than it has in recent memory. According to Mintel:
- 72% of American consumers said that they would like to volunteer more
- 43% of Brazilians say one of their personal goals is to volunteer
- 36% of Chinese consumers plan to volunteer over the next year
Some, such as those out of work, see volunteering as an opportunity to keep skills fresh, while others view it as a way to broaden their interactions with fellow community members. Still others cite the good feeling they get as reason enough to give back, a phenomenon that’s been validated by a London School of Economics study showing that the more you volunteer, the happier you’re likely to be.
For business owners, this adds a whole new dimension to the idea of volunteering. Motivated customers may be much more inclined to join your efforts to feed the hungry, collect coats and participate in other activities that help the poor, which is an area of significant concern for consumers. In fact:
- 29% of them said poverty in the US is the social issue they’re most concerned about.
- According to a Pew Research survey, 65% of US consumers said that they believed the
income gap between the rich and poor had widened over the last ten years
- 57% who felt the income gap was widening said it was a bad thing for society.
For further evidence that mindsets are changing, consider that 54% of baby boomers say that making a positive difference with their career is more important that making a lot of money, a philosophy shared by 26% of millennials. Astute business owners might leverage this insight by developing positions that are as altruistically rewarding as they are financially.
Philanthropy via the Masses
According to the Mintel study, philanthropy is no longer an activity carried out exclusively by the rich. In fact, a handful of universities, including Northwestern, Stanford and Yale have partnered with hedge fund managers to offer programs that give students the means to seek out and provide funding to non-profits – all in the interest of helping out.
Your business might emulate this by letting customers guide your philanthropic efforts toward causes they feel are most worthy.
Under the Microscope
No matter how your business gives back, know that people are paying attention. In fact, Mintel suggests that consumers are keenly aware of what businesses are or aren’t doing to integrate giving into their DNA. To survive under this spotlight, businesses should explore how they can inject an element of giving into everyday activities. For instance:
- Grocers might earmark a percentage of their products for local food pantries.
- Auto shops could consider recycling used tires into playground materials.
- Hair salons might partner with organizations that provide hairpieces for cancer patients.
As your business embraces giving, so will your customers. Some, in fact, are already ahead of the curve, making now more than ever an exciting time to give back.