Royal Cause was conceived when personal ambition collided with curiosity and frustration. As a board member for a nonprofit I was looking for funding sources to expand the capacity to serve more youth. I observed that most small and medium businesses were not contributing to our cause. (Big Brothers Big Sisters).
I believed that only 20-30% of businesses in the community gave back and was searching for a ‘pitch’ I could use to raise more awareness and funds from the other 70%.
I let the geek out and began to develop data collection tools that I was hoping would provide me with a list of businesses to target. This lead to my first discovery — 93% of community businesses give back! I built more tools and hired and trained researchers to gather more data and identify trends that might explain this obscure fact. 6 months later across 7 major media markets more unexpected patterns emerged. For example, only 32% of nonprofit organizations publish a discoverable list of their business supporters. More surprising was the discovery that fewer than 8% of businesses have a webpage that accurately lists their current roster of community nonprofit recipients and partners.
I took my data on a road trip to determine if this disconnect was intentional. Nonprofits readily admitted that they do an extremely poor job of giving their corporate partners the public accolades they deserve. Most were incapable of offering any reasonable hope for improving their abysmal performance in this area. It is a recurring staffing and skills shortage that prevents any permanent solution and a point of frustration for most nonprofit leaders.
When I interviewed business leaders to discuss their goals for corporate giving they expressed more interest in getting their record of giving established in the community. Over 50% expressed similar frustration with their nonprofit partner’s ability to raise awareness. However they too could not offer more hope for improving their ability to communicate this message at scale. Both nonprofit and businesses agreed – static webpages living in isolated domains are mostly ineffective. They are neglected assets that atrophy within weeks of publication.
1 out of 10 employees were able to name a specific nonprofit their employer supported.
My next stop was employees. I asked these two questions in this order: “Are you aware of a local nonprofit this business supports and can you name it?” and… “What do you care about?” In other words “name your cause.”
1 out of 10 employees were able to name a specific nonprofit their employer supported. Many of them consulted their manager who would appear with answers 80% of the time. My assertion is that employees are no more aware of their employer’s philanthropy than the general public. That assertion has remain unchallenged. Employers, despite their best efforts, fail to equip their employees with facts they can take to the community.
Question #2 – The level of response to – “What do you care about?” was exactly the inverse. 9 out of 10 employees were able to clearly articulate their causes and in many instances infuse them with sophisticated insight and examples of their personal contribution.
This disconnect confirmed:
Employers consider their giving record a marketable asset with business value. Otherwise managers would not be as informed and conversant about the role of their employer in meeting the needs of the community. The enthusiasm and clarity from managers made it very clear that their employer’s giving was a point of pride and should be shared at every opportunity.
Employees were unintentionally uninformed and nearly clueless about their employer’s commitment to the community. Businesses that experience high employee turnover were at a distinct disadvantage. However it was astonishing to discover that employees of businesses that do a decent job at promoting their corporate giving were mute when asked for details. To be fair, some employees would recall that there was some level of giving. eg: “Not sure what the name is…but it has a yellow ribbon” or “Has something to do with homeless families.”
People Care! 9 out of 10 can readily name their cause. Especially millennials.