Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Loads of Hope by TIDE

Do you wash with Tide? I do and have for years. Personally, it gets the stains out best. Now here is another reason you should use Tide... No, no, not because they sponsor good-looking, NASCAR drivers. But because they travel city to city by washing the clothes of victims of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, California wildfires, Iowa floods, and other places.

Tide's Loads of Hope helps for days, weeks and years after a natural disaster by providing clean clothes and a sense of comfort to families in need. They travel with the Tide CleanStart truck, which is their free mobile laundry facility. With 32 high-efficiency washers and dryers, the Tide CleanStart truck:

- Can do 300 wash and dry cycles a day - equal to one year's worth of laundry for a single family.
- Will wash about 9,000 loads of laundry over a four-week period.

- Has washed more than 20,000 loads of laundry for New Orleans families.
Most importantly, the Tide CleanStart truck means we're equipped to take action whenever and wherever there is a need in our country.

They have been doing this for three years. This program is perfectly aligned with their brand, it such a great thing to do and captures the spirit of the Tide family and employees. We all know that when hit with a natural disaster, most families are left with only the clothes on their back. Through floods, fire, and dirt, etc... I am sure the opportunity to put on clean clothes is welcomed.

Way to go Tide. Great program for you and the families and individuals you help! Who ever thought washing clothes could be such a great thing to do!

PS: Next time you are walking down the laundry detergent aisle at the super-market, go ahead and grab Tide. You'll not only have clean clothes but support a great program.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Subaru "Shares the Love' Campaign

My second car was a Subaru. I totaled my first car, a Toyota Corolla in an accident, and broke my leg in three places and went through the windshield, requiring a lot of stitches to my forehead. So, it landed in the junkyard.

Now, I was on the hunt for a new car...(after five months of being in a cast.) Out of college, working, making decent money...I really had my eye set on a sports car. It was hot. But, it wasn't a logical car. I knew it but I really wanted it. The sports car was a 2-seater with a trunk that was so small it couldn't even hold 5 grocery bags. So, I was persuaded to buy a Subaru. They were, after all, a 'reliable' car, had great gas mileage, and had front-wheel drive, which was essential to driving through snow (or so I was told), and the insurance premium was lower. I bought it, at first somewhat reluctantly, but that car was in fact reliable and rarely had a problem.

Of course, when I read about Subaru's new charity campaign, I felt obligated to share it. After all, my Subaru got me through bad snow storms, saved me lots of money compared to the fancy sports car, and I had it for many years.

Subaru's new "Share the Love" campaign, is running through January 2nd, and lets new-vehicle customers select one of five charities to receive a $250 donation from Subaru of America, following the purchase or lease of a new Subaru vehicle. How great is that. Sure it's a way to influence the buyer's decision, sure they probably want to move 2008 cars off the lot by year's end, but it's not like Subaru is just in it for the grab. They have a history of being very community-minded company. But, I do have to be honest, I thought the title of this campaign was better suited for VW Beetle... the "Love Bug"... get it? You can read more about the campaign here.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Top 50 Givers of 2008

You gotta love these year-end lists. They really do intrigue us, don't they?! The lists are ever where at this time of the year and we hear and read about in People Magazine, GQ, Entertainment Tonight, Fast Company, Forbes and the list goes on....

Well, here is a list worth 'giving' out (pun is completely intended!) Business Week, The Top 50 Philanthropists for 2008 was posted on Yahoo last week. Among them was Warren Buffett who led the group, followed by Bill and Melinda Gates, William Barron Hilton, Veronica Atkins (wife of the late Dr. Atkins) the Walton Family, Shelby White, Herbert and Marion Sandler, Oprah Winfrey, Peter Peterson, and Michael Bloomberg. All of these donors give through family foundations. Seven of these individuals gave more than $200M and nine more gave more than $100M.

Now, I realize that big dollars can translate into big impact and giving that amount is unfathomable to most Americans. The article also points out that these philanthropists, much like everyone else, have felt the economic downturn. You can read the article here.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Look Good, Doing Good

Kenneth Cole is taking his designs to the ultimate "A-wear-ness". His company is donating 100% of net proceeds from the sale of AWEARNESS merchandise to the AWEARNESS Fund - a not-for-profit entity that supports, encourages and empowers acts of service, volunteerism and social change. To find out more, please visit their ABOUT page.

As a long time lover of Kenneth Cole fashion, I find his new philanthropic entity 'smashing daaaling' and extremely well branded. Just the name, Awearness, how simple, clever and closely aligned with fashion is that? Right on. Plus, by keeping the Kenneth Cole Company giving focused on this new philanthropic fund, the Awearness Fund, it builds even greater brand awareness for his company name and merchandise. Not that Kenneth Cole needed a boost to his brand, but this is a great way to communicate that he and his company stand for something more than the bottom-line. Kuddos. I love this whole intiative and will without reserve promote it where I can.

His company is partnering with Volunteer Match (one of my favorite organizations and one I direct clients to all the time) to encourage social change on issues such as AIDS, homelessness and more. The purpose of the initiative is to promote awareness and advance volunteerism and service, and raise funds, all in an effort to make a difference.

You can read more about this partnership here.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Boost Your Brand by Giving Back

Boost Your Brand by Giving Back (tm)

A philanthropy program for businesses is not just limited to Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies. Actually, any business of any size and at any stage of the business can have success through charitable giving. So, if you think you are too small or don’t have the resources or that you are just in the first couple of years of beginning your business and a giving program is not the right time, let me tell you to lay those assumptions to rest.

Nearly ninety-two percent of Americans have a positive image of a company that supports causes (Cone, 2007). Believe it or not, your business qualifies as a part of that statistic. The study doesn’t say, “Americans have a positive image of really big corporations that give back.” Rather it refers to all businesses, of all sizes, from all different types of industries. So, if you are a business owner (solo entrepreneur) the very same analysis applies to you.

Think for just a moment when you donated your time, or a product or service or when you wrote a check (regardless of the size) to a charity, in your community. How did you feel about giving? Did someone else or group know you gave? Did you share your giving story with customers or clients? Aside from the intrinsic rewards you feel, there are significant extrinsic rewards that can benefit your business simply by implementing a giving program. Again, no matter the size.

Customers, clients and communities recognize businesses for their philanthropy (also called community involvement). When you give, you are creating customer and community connections. This is boosting your brand and branding creates loyalty among customers. Eighty-seven percent of Americans will switch from one product or service to another, even when price and quality are equal, if the other product or services is associated with a cause (Cone, 2007). That is a statistically significant.

Wouldn’t you like to boost your brand? The American Marketing Association defines brand as a “name, term, sign, symbol or design or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers”. We also know that branding is your message and how you communicate it to customers and communities. Ask yourself, “What are you doing to differentiate your brand (business) from another similar business offering the same service or product?” (Notice, I didn’t say “competitor”. Trust me, there are enough customers and clients for everyone, and it’s your job to connect with those who want to business with you because of your value and values.) Having a business giving program is one way to successfully brand your business. Keep in mind, cutting a few checks here and there or volunteering once in a while does not comprise a business giving program. As altruistic as your intentions are, a giving program has a strategy so that it works for both business and causes.

Here are just a few tips to help you boost your brand through a giving program.

1. Identify your values: Brand is based on values, period. Your business values influence every decision and action you make.

2. Identify mutual benefits: Your aim should be to have a giving program that serves your business, customers, community which makes a difference in the world.

3. Create a connection: Build a meaningful connection with your customers on every level of your business. Each experience is crucial to defining and building your brand. Even your message creates an emotional connection that shifts the value perception and equation to build customer trust and loyalty.

Not sure if your giving back is building your brand? If you can’t define your giving program through your brand, your customers won’t be able to either. Your brand and giving program must be aligned to authenticate the brand connection with your business, customers and communities.

I share all of this AND more in my new Boost Your Brand by Giving Back (tm) Audio. You can get your copy of this mp3 for only $27 at http://www.givingadvice.com/products.html.

© 2008. Maggie F. Keenan, Ed.D. All rights reserved.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Wear the Cause

There is a gem of an online store called Wear the Cause. Here is what they are about...

"Wear The Cause is clothing that raises awareness. Our fashionable clothing contains cause related substance within the imagery. Each shirt represents a different cause, health, animal rights, education, society, and the environment. Our mission is to educate and entertain the world, and a percentage of proceeds will donate to charities. Wearthecause.com is our main home for shopping our store, learning about causes, discovering artists, and being part of the team. Our apparel is available for men, women, and children. We have short sleeve, and long sleeve graphic T-shirts, tanks, camisoles, hoody's, collards, as well as baby clothes. On our cause page you can learn about current issues occurring around the world, and link to charity sites to help get involved. Our cause clothing is created from artist online submissions. Artist involved get a bio of themselves and there art, with a link to their website....Join our community and support a unique blend of fashionable clothing, with cause related substance, plus an online artist collective, as well as charity involvement. Through our clothing we can create a visual spread of cause related information to viewers, with hopes of sparking interest, and raising awareness. We need artist to submit their cause related designs. So shop, learn, create, spread, and love cause."

How cool is this! Wear the Cause has creatively and successfully blended cause awareness, artists with a desire to share their message and work, and attire that is so very hip. I know what I want for Christmas! You?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Take the Cue from this Pink Pool Stick

Yesterday was a rainy, damp Sunday. It was perfect for staying indoors, watching t.v., which I rarely do. As I flipped through the stations, I landed on an exhibition billiard show. I think it was America vs. Europe. Top men and women professional billiards playing for, well I don't know it could have been a title or some high stake. Either way, I was fascinated at the talent of the players and the techniques they used. I mean, it was as if, their mind directed the 8 ball to go in a particular direction.

The entire tournament was fascinating and I was stunned at the professionalism and exemplary talent among the women billiard players. I've never seen women play professional pool before. Plus, the outfits the women wore were really fabulous. They looked super sheik. And to think, I always thought of pool as the pass time for guys to hang out with buddies in basements across America. To my surprise.

Then today, I came across an ad for a pink cue stick made by Viper. Part of the proceeds go to The Breast Cancer Foundation. So, to the ladies out there that are thinking pool can be your sport, this cue stick is for you. Now what I am not able to tell you specifically, is which breast cancer foundation they are supporting. There is the National Breast Cancer Foundation, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, The American Breast Cancer Foundation and The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Nevertheless, the point here is you get a fab pink cue stick and it helps fight a terrible disease.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Pound for a Pound & 2 Thumbs Up!

What a great cause related marketing campaign! WeightWatchers launched a month long campaign, "Lose for Good", to support two nonprofits, Action Against Hunger and Share Our Strength.

What was exceptional about this program is that their customers, both online subscribers and those who attend local meetings, had the opportunity to participate. to lose weight and support two causes at the same time. The campaign will "donate the cost of a pound of food for each pound lost during campaign period. Pounds lost by Members will be determined by average weight lost per meeting attendance during campaign period multiplied by total number of attendances during campaign period. Pounds lost by Online Subscribers will be determined by total weight loss recorded in the Weight Tracker during campaign period. Weight losses are subject to our healthy weight loss guidelines. Cost of food will be calculated by each participating charity. Donations will be made 70% to Share our Strength up to $700,000 and 30% to Action Against Hunger up to $300,000." (WeightWatchers)

In addition, participants could spread the word through Facebook and MySpace using the widgets that WeightWatchers provided through their campaign website. Again, oh so smart! They implemented social media to create awareness for their program and the two charity partners they selected. Participants could also send e-cards and share the video to reach out to family and friends.

This was a well branded, well designed, well "everything" CRM campaign. Good for WeightWatchers and good for the participants to may have reached a new weight goal and helped someone else while doing it.

To learn more about the Lose for Good campaign, click here.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Corduroy to Promote Early Education

I know what you may be thinking, corduroy.. as in the pants we wore back in the 60's and 70's as kids. Nope! It's a children's book and it was used to jump start the Jumpstart's Read for the Record Campaign to set a world record for the world's largest shared reading experience on the same day with the same book. Read for the Record Campaign is Jumpstart's annual event. This year's book Corduroy is about a teddy bear's adventure in a department store.

I happened to watching the Today's Show with Matt, Meredith, Ann and Al on October 2nd. The rapper LL Cool J, Honorary Spokesperson, and actress, Mary-Louise Parker, singer/songwriter, Jesse McCartney, actor Greg Kinnear and Maria from Sesame Street read Corduroy on The Today Show for Jumpstart's Read for the Record! They were set up on the Plaza with lots of little fidgie' (fidg-i) sitting and listening to the story.

Jumpstart advocates for adults to read to children at an early age. Children that are read to at a pre-school age develop skills that prepare them to thrive in school. The Jumpstart model is quite successful. And, their Read for the Record Campaign created national awareness. This campaign is an excellent example of how one organization can reach the stars (no pun intended). With celebrity-readers, national broadcast network support, and communities & schools reading on the same day, the same book and breaking a record is amazing. Aside from the national pr, Jumpstart has an excellent and solid track record of making an impact. Impact being the measured progress and success of kids and the number of children served through the program. It was recently named one of the top charities by Fast Company's Social Capitalist Awards.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Boost Your Brand by Giving Back

Join me for my "Boost Your Brand by Giving Back" FREE Teleclass

When: Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Time: 3:00pm EST

This information-packed teleclass will inspire you to rethink just how important giving can be for your business. Learn my three secrets for boosting your brand and building connections with your customers and your community.

You've heard me say, giving makes a difference for your business. And it does. Did you know that customers/clients have a more positive image of businesses that support causes? This isn't fluff. It's based on solid studies and it's not just for Fortune 500 companies either. Any business of any size can have successes for their brand by giving back.

I'll be revealing my three secrets for boosting your brand and building connections with your clients, customers and community. You'll learn:

1. How your giving decisions influence your marketing message,
2. What you need to do to create an emotional appeal with clients and customers, and
3. How to make your brand stand apart from others in the marketplace.

Not sure if your giving back is building your brand? If you can’t define your giving program through your brand, your customers won’t be able to either. Your brand and giving program must be aligned to authenticate the brand connection with your business, customers and communities.

Read more about the teleclass here.This is one of my most favorite topics, and I'm ecstatic to be sharing it with you on this live call. You'll also have the chance to ask me questions LIVE on the Q&A portion of the call.

I will share with you the three strategies to positively impact your brand and create meaningful, long lasting connections with your clients, customers and community.

Register Here!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Economic Blues Leave No Room for Green

In AdvertisingAge today, there is an worth a read, "Economic Blues Leave No Room for Green." Essentially, the green-marketing movement is taking a hit from hard economic times. Companies are having to place less emphasis on their cause-related and environmental issues due to downturns. "In fact, marketing that is 'beneficial for society' or that minimizes the impact on the environment now ranked at the bottom of the top five priorities.. for the next 12 months" according to a Duke University study of seventy-two Fortune 1000 companies.

Unilever is just one example. Unilever is having to shift its marketing priorities as a result. One executive acknowledged that while green is a good way to go for consumer product, it's not among families high priorities at the moment. What does this mean for Unilever? While the company hasn't dropped it's cause-related marketing for Dove, it will focus on the new Dove Go Fresh line, and Wal-Mart Stores are even talking less about their sustainability themes with releasing 37 stories a month versus 72 stories a month this time last year.

The wane isn't necessarily the effect that going green isn't important to consumers. Rather, families and individuals are feeling the pinch a the gas pump, grocery store and other areas of their lives. So, while green is good, when it comes to the pocketbook, people will opt for discounts and lower priced products, at least for now.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What Small Business Donors Should Know about Microfinance Organizations

Organizations like Charity Navigator are great watchdogs on charities. It can help any donor, even you a small business owner, learn about the efficiency and accountability of a charity and its use of funds. You will soon be able to read more about how to evaluate charities in my new ebook, "5 Tips to Help Small Business Evaluate Charities Before Giving." (www.givingadvice.com/products.html) But, there's a growing breed of charities that provides donors information on their dollars given and allows donors to chose specific projects and fund what appeals to them. These organizations are commonly called, microfinance organizations and they are gaining popularity fast among small businesses and solo-entrepreneurs. Among the most well-established are Kiva, Accion International, DonorsChoose and GlobalGiving. Kiva, for example, allows donors to finance microloans to budding entrepreneurs in third world countries. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal discusses this new breed of charities. The cool part about Kiva and other similar organizations is that donors can direct where they want their donation to go, and they get updates which track their contribution. Often, you can get a photo online of the individual your donation is assisting.

This new, quasi, eyes-on approach to giving is very appealing to donors. To boot, many of the microfinance organizations are doing an above 3-star rating on Charity Navigator. While there will always be critics with opinions about microfinance organizations, and I am happy they have a full time job and are paying taxes, the elevated interest in organizations such as Kiva is not going away anytime soon. To move families and individuals from a marginalized status in the global economy to a playing field which provides them some level of financial freedom and fair game in a market-place is very liberating both for them, their community, and the donor. The rewards have a large ripple effect. The one reward that has a lasting impact is the direct gift exchange between the donor and recipient. Lives are touched. Gratitude is felt and an impact is made on lives regardless of the size.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Strength is in the Giving Story, Not This TIME

While reading a recent issue of MORE magazine, (and the same magazine I was featured in the April 2007 issue), I came across a full page advertisement for Baume & Mercier watches. The ad had Teri Hatcher of Desparate Housewives wearing one of these exclusive watches. So, just another company securing a celebrity face for their product? For sure!

Baume & Mercier and Teri Hatcher contribute to programs that improve education, seek to cure cancer and protect the environment. When you visit the "charity-celebrity" webpage it doens't tell you anything about their partnership, giving campaigns, and not even a story about it. Nor did the ad.

OK, I am going to be hard, but this is not how to tell your cause related marketing campaign story. Their is no connection to consumers. No connection to a story. Aside from the barely there message, there are too many causes aligned with this campaign. You can't figure out which causes are those of Ms. Hatcher or Baume-Mercier. That is important to the brand. As a matter of fact on the webpage it directs viewers to another individual who appears to manage the charity-celebrity inquiries. What? This re-direct to who? For what? I just want to hear HOW Baume & Mercier is giving back and why the connection to causes they selected. What's the heart felt message that consumers need to hear? Are they making contributions through the sale of every watch purchased? Teri Hatcher is beautiful, but I am not buying a product based on celebrity endorsement. I can't connect with a celebrity. But I can connect with the reason why a company wants to make a difference in the world. I am interested in the corporate culture behind the product made.

In an article I authored several months ago, I recommend companies to not stick with pink because it's popular (not to discount the importance of a cause but rather to dare to be your brand), be focused on cause(s) that align with brand and values...one that consumers can clearly get why you identified the charities you did and then communicate that story, that message. Keep it simple. Surely, the Baume & Mercier ad didn't capture that.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

For the Love of Lipstick

This recent TimesOnline article tells a great story about how one company has managed to turn women’s love of lipstick into a multi-million pound charity fundraiser that is helping hundreds of HIV projects around the world.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cause Related Marketing: What Customers Love

Okay, I am caving in a bit. I have not been a particular fan of cause related marketing (crm) for several reasons. The biggest one is that it has the perception of being a philanthropy program, but from a purest point of view it's not. It has a shelf life and depending on the extent to which a business owner wants to work with a specific charity, it requires some legal stuff.

However, after reading a lot of studies and latest trends, crm works and customers love it. It can be just one way your business giving back. Get the scoop on cause related marketing here.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Building Relationships with Charities through Your Business's Giving Program

I was just interviewed yesterday by a reporter for an upcoming article in a small business magazine. I will let you know when that runs. One of the questions I often get is, how does a business go about selecting charitable organizations to support. In all honesty, this is a very important aspect in developing your giving program, but it's the one area that gets the least attention.

Before identifying and selecting organizations, I take the business through an assessment. This process gets you clear about what is important to your business, and what your business stand for. Often the lines can get grey between your interests and your business interests, but the distinction is important for your brand, long term impact, and building relationships with charities.

You may get at first glance the importance for your brand and impact, but you may not have thought about the importance of building relationships with charities you support. Well, here's why it is important and what you need to know.

First, strategy. It's all about strategy. If you follow my writings and teachings you know that strategy is critical to impact. This is why you want to carefully identify and select those organizations which you can support with a quiver. Next, your giving back is not always all about you and your business. It's also about the charity. Understand that nonprofits create, develop and cultivate their donors. This doesn't mean just individuals or family donors. It also includes business, corporate and foundation supporters. So, as a business, the charity truly wants to keep you in their loop, on their radar, and in their giving circle. This is how they continue to raise dollars and build their capacity. In a competitive nonprofit marketplace today, they want to build a relationship with you so that your support begins to mean more than just the contributions you give. It’s about the possibilities that the relationship can offer mutual benefits for the donor and charity.

As the relationship grows and becomes sustainable over time, you as a business owner can become a major benefactor to the organization. Often, the nonprofit can engage and recognize your support and communicate what that has meant to the community.

One time donations, unless really large, do not create impact nor always build relationships. And these two elements are critical to the success of your giving program.

© 2008. Maggie F. Keenan, Ed.D. All rights reserved.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Green is the New Pink

It seems like every where you turn today, companies are going green. I'd like to think it's because they want to enjoy a wee bit of the Irish but that's not it. Going green has a caught on fast and it's a good thing for consumers, companies and the world we live in. It's not exactly about giving back in a monetary way, as we do through donations. But it is a way to make to difference now and for future generations.

I often get asked, "What does going green really mean"? For starters, I am not an expert on green practices (csr), just philanthropy. But I keep myself informed about practices that make a difference for the world we live in.

This is what I know 'going green' to mean for companies and you can begin with any one of the areas sited below to implement in your business. You don't have to do all of them. Just pick one and get started. These key terms are mentioned in Elizabeth Roger's, The Green Book.

Sustainable practices: values the earth's resources and puts future generation’s needs before immediate needs.

Renewable: the use of energy and resources that can be replenished so that they are never fully depleted, such as wind or solar energy.

Recycled: the turning of old product into new product, such as plastic bottles, cans, newspapers, etc...

Fair Trade: Products are made ethically with sustainable practices.

Organic: fibers or foods grown without the use of most chemicals.

Many companies are going green. One example is
Melaver, Inc. They are a family-owned, development business that is leading the way in Georgia and other southeastern states. I facilitated a philanthropy session for their company and can say they are the best I have seen in sustainable practices and giving back.

So, I encourage you to think of just one way you can begin 'going green' that is easy for you to manage and makes a difference.

© 2008. Maggie F. Keenan, Ed.D. All rights reserved.