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More and more nowadays, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a key element of business strategy, whether in terms of environmental practices, community engagement or charity support. Consumers are choosing brands that are clear about their corporate responsibility and support initiatives, and it’s also increasingly becoming a key factor for potential staff and partners.

With International Day of Charity on 5th Sept, we share our thoughts on marketing charity support.

1. Do it for the right reasons.

The most important point of this post. Get your strategy and priorities the right way round – don’t engage in CSR or charity support as a marketing exercise, make sure you develop a CSR initiative and then think about the ways you could appropriately share what you do to support/encourage others and raise awareness. CSR should not be a PR exercise (although done the right way, it can give you some great news, stories and content).

2. Make it relevant.

If you decide to engage in charity support as part of your business strategy, think about which organisation you would support and why. Make it relevant to what you do – a subject area where you could add most value and that your target audience would care most about – don’t just automatically pick the biggest/most popular charity you know, or jump on the bandwagon of the latest environmental initiative without thinking it through. If you are a business services provider, think about working with colleges/universities/schools for mentorship and guidance programmes. If you are a food and beverage provider, think about healthy eating education initiatives or plastic reduction. If you work in construction, maybe tree planting initiatives would work well for you. If your audience is largely women, maybe breast cancer support initiatives. If you work in a stressful industry/environment then maybe something related to mental health. Brainstorm those topics of most interest to your audience.

3. It’s not all about the money.

A lot of businesses, particularly the smaller ones and startups, often overlook charity support because they don’t have the finances available for donations. Whereas time is actually our most valuable asset, and so often overlooked and taken for granted. From previous experience as a regional manager for a well known cancer charity in the UK, we know that this is an area that charities are always looking for support with – whether it’s volunteers coming into the offices to help pack boxes and stuff envelopes, or to support with admin tasks. When the weather is cooler in Dubai, there are regular beach and desert clean up’s (there are even underwater clean up’s for the diving community), and during Ramadan, there are many different places where volunteers are required to help hand out Iftar meals.

If you don’t have the resources or time to volunteer at the moment, you can look at alternative donations, they don’t have to be financial. You might work in an area where you could donate a number of your products or services. Maybe it’s simply having a clear out of your office, or asking staff to donate old goods or food from their homes – there are a number of organisations supporting local workers that are always looking for old clothes, bedding, toiletries and food.

Once you decide the most appropriate strategy (make sure that it is one that can be maintained on an ongoing basis, rather than a one-hit wonder), then think about the opportunities for promotion:

If you have raised funds, can you hold an event to present a cheque – which will give you the opportunity to bring people together, plenty of images and something to share with the local community (just make sure it’s a sizeable amount if you choose this approach!) For smaller amounts, it may not be of interest to the wider community, but something for social media, your blog/website and newsletter.

If you are volunteering time, is it something that would make for an eye catching or unique picture of your team – ie during beach/desert/underwater clean ups or giving out Iftar packs – in which case this might make for a nice picture to be shared, however if it’s in an office environment, it might not have the same impact. If you are donating products, then it also may not be as newsworthy, unless you have particularly large quantities, or the products are unique and for a specific need of the charity.

If you approach your CSR with the right mindset, then you will automatically communicate in the right way, so just make sure you get it right from the start! For any more advice, please do feel free to contact us.

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