What Gives!? How Philanthropy Fosters Engagement In The Modern Retail World

Malouf_Jake HeadshotBy Jake Neeley, Malouf director of philanthropy

There are many classic, presumably obvious reasons why a person or business should participate in philanthropy-based work. It creates happiness, reduces stress; it’s just humane. Really, any reason that moves you to action is a good one.

As I talk to my peers in the mattress industry, I often hear about the important responsibility to keep the lights on and ensure that organizations stay afloat. So, among this, is there still room for doing more? Should philanthropy be a priority? The resounding answer is yes! To survive the next decade, it must be a priority. Here’s why.

According to a national research survey from Cone Communications:

  • 89% of Americans are likely to switch brands to one associated with a cause, given comparable price and quality, jumping nearly 35% from 1993 to 2017.
  • 91% wants even more of the products and services they use to support the cause.
  • 54% of Americans bought a product associated with a cause over the last 12 months, increasing 170% from 1993 to 2017.

Cause Consumers

Now, I’m not saying your primary why should be to get more sales. If your genuine desire isn’t first to do good, we’ll all see right through it and it won’t help. What I am saying is today’s retail consumers favor companies and products that do good. The “cause consumer” is here and their appetite isn’t satiated.

In fact, 78% of consumers want companies to address important social justice issues. And, 70% believe companies have an obligation to take actions to improve issues that may not be relevant to their everyday business, according to the national research survey from Cone Communications.

Philanthropy for the Employee

It’s not just important to our customers, it’s also critical to our employees. Fortune Magazine’s partner Great Place to Work surveyed more than 380,000 employees at hundreds of companies and found philanthropy at the corporate level “is associated with greater employee retention, higher levels of brand ambassadorship on the part of workers and more enthusiastic employees.”

“Staffers who believe their organizations give back to the community are a striking 13 times more likely to look forward to coming to work, compared to employees who do not perceive their employers to be generous toward the community.”

Deloitte’s 2017 Volunteerism Survey of working Americans, meant to explore how people view volunteerism, found that “a culture of volunteerism in the workplace may boost morale, workplace atmosphere, and brand perception,” and helps develop future leaders. “80% of respondents reported that active volunteers move into leadership roles more easily.”

Businesses are an integral part of building communities and healthy economies. When our businesses flourish, we all flourish and are more capable of giving back to build the next generation.

Using Retail to Fight Trafficking

One of my favorite examples of a business giving to its community and customers revolves around someone in our industry; Deep Water Home in beautiful Chelan, Wash.

The story starts with their interior stylist, Diana Hoyt, who had a tough experience near Spokane a little more than a year ago. In a nutshell, Diana stopped at a rest stop right as another man pulled up and let out a younger girl. As she got out of the truck, Diana noticed the girl was wearing a small white dress—even though the temperature was below 20 degrees—and had bruising on her legs. Diana immediately knew something wasn’t right, but she didn’t know what to do to. She froze. As the girl got back into the truck and drove away, Diana said she will forever remember the image of this young girl’s face.

A few months later my path crossed with Diana during the Summer 2018 Las Vegas Market where I organized an event to launch a new campaign called OnWatch; which is free online training designed to help people recognize the signs of sex trafficking and what to do if you see something. Diana later told me that as we started talking about the signs, the memory of the young girl flooded her mind. As we explained the solutions to make a difference, Diana said she went from feeling hopeless to empowered knowing that if she had her experience again, she could intervene.

As soon as the event ended, she went to her employer and began developing ways to get their community involved. Within 3 months we worked together to create a public event in their store with all of their employees to create awareness about trafficking and use OnWatch as a solution for everyone to make an impact. Since that time, they have continued to get their community involved and even been asked to hold an event in Spokane where she had her original experience.

Working on their community event inspired me to build additional resources to help anyone get involved and do an event as they did. Consequently, we launched a toolkit full resources needed to get your business or community trained to recognize the signs of trafficking.

Do Good

Giving is good and well worth the time and investment it takes. In some ways I know I’m preaching to the choir because, according to the Small Business Administration, 75% of you are already giving back. For those who aren’t or those who want to be better, my parting advice is to find what works for you and your organization and do it.

Be genuine. Do good. Make an impact.

Visit IAmOnWatch.org