Think Global, Act Local has been applied to everything from food to the environment to education. It’s moved from a bumper sticker slogan to a recognized concept that informs the way many organizations operate, particularly when it comes to social responsibility. Look no further than the daily missives from Triple Pundit or Sustainable Brands to see how CSR-focused corporate missions and strategies are driving the conversation.
But for now, we’d like to focus on the latter half of the mantra – Act Local. Successful companies use every tool in their arsenals to accomplish their goals and build their brands. One weapon they don’t overlook is the power of local teams – the feet on the streets. We recently posted a piece about The New Face of Sponsorship where we talked about the power of thinking small when it comes to maximizing the impact of sponsorships and building community relations. We seem to have struck a chord with some of our readers and decided that a deeper dive was in order. There’s no formula when it comes to engaging locally. The examples are as varied as the companies involved. But there are some threads that tie them together.
Philanthropy is marketing – Philanthropy puts your company name in the spotlight and associates your brand with worthy causes. That alone is beneficial. Some companies have taken it to the next level and devised clever strategies that drive revenue while supporting the community. Smart marketers know that relationships matter, whether they’re customer, partner or community relationships.
Employees are your best ambassadors – Companies that empower their teams to lend their time, talents and passion to philanthropy reap huge rewards. Beyond volunteering, employees can help you forge key relationships and make inroads with local community groups and customers.
Big impact does not require big bucks – Sure, big grants are wonderful and make a significant impact. But even small donations can mean a big difference to your community and your company. Check out our Go-Getter Do-Gooder list for ideas about lower cost ways to build your philanthropy profile.
Versaic’s client roster is packed with companies who have put the Act Local approach to work for them. Here are just a few of our favorite examples.
Corporate headquarters manages all of the philanthropy efforts for the chain of 420 Big 5 Sporting Goods stores but they rely on local store managers and staff to keep them tuned in to community needs. Thousands of community groups are supported with gift cards that can be auctioned to raise funds or donated to needy causes.
JW Marriott Grand Rapids
For non-profits in its primary focus areas, the hotel donates certificates for one or two night stays that can be auctioned at events. Additional organizations are supported with discounted hotel certificates that the non-profit can purchase and auction off at a higher rate. This builds broader community support while driving revenue for the hotel.
The Texas-based grocery chain sends requests for local support to its 150 stores for review and fulfillment. Gift cards are donated to support local events and all giving is overseen by corporate, ensuring guidelines and goals are met.
Youth sports teams in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas are fans of Murphy’s because each of the company’s gas stations supports two teams every season. Each station has the option of purchasing uniforms for the teams or providing gas cards so that teams can purchase fuel for traveling to games.
Nobody can resist a cute puppy or kitten and PetSmart knows it. The company’s events team has a budget to support local events and they wisely steer toward those events that can be held in their stores or close by. Local teams support the events, putting them front and center with customers and the community.
The Kmart Kares program provides vital support to community groups supporting the most needy with clothing and essentials. Any eligible non-profit that purchases goods at Kmart will receive 10% more in additional merchandise. By empowering stores to connect with local non-profits, the Kmart Kares program drives revenue, enhances Kmart’s reputation and supports the company’s philanthropy goals.
The field marketing team at US Cellular has a co-op budget for marketing materials and coupons, made available to each of their stores. Store managers request support for community events and causes. Corporate tracks and manages the program and the store teams are able to support the events they care most about which boosts employee engagement and loyalty.
Wyndham Hotels and Resorts
Wishes by Windham is a key part of Wyndham’s philanthropy program. The hotel chain donates points to local community groups and the points can be auctioned off at events and cashed in for rooms and discounts. This is another example of smart philanthropy – building key relationships, enhancing brand and driving revenue.