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5 ways to use corporate giving to strengthen your brand and improve your reputation

By Paul R. Witkowski

100carsforgood2012.jpgFollow these guidelines for corporate giving to earn a strong reputation.

Google’s "Don't be evil" slogan may give you a positive impression, but words alone don’t define reputation. Action does. Corporations must earn their reputations, and a socially responsible giving strategy is essential for building an enduring positive reputation. According to leading brand marketer Don Sorensen, top-level executives’ names often become synonymous with their brands. By striving to be good corporate citizens, business leaders can reinvigorate their connections with stakeholders. Here are five guidelines you can follow to boost your brand through corporate giving.

    1. Address community needs with your core capacities

Toyota’s “100 Cars for Good” is a great example of a giving strategy that impacts the community while strengthening the brand at the same time. For most small nonprofits, reliable transportation is a major issue. Toyota’s campaign targeted local nonprofits that most deserved a new car. When companies contribute out of their core business capacities, the investment yields a high impact.

    2. Collaborate

Utilizing online voting, Toyota empowered the general public to determine where to direct its help. Opening up in this fun and interactive way yielded greater awareness and participation from potential customers.

    3. Build a volunteer program

Studies show that employee volunteerism on behalf of their companies has measurable value. Where reputation is the outcome, volunteering is a two-way street. An important driver of employee engagement in the United States is an organization’s reputation in the community, as cited by the volunteer group New York Cares. One survey identified corporate citizenship as one of the top drivers of reputation, and corporate service can build brand awareness, affinity, trust and loyalty among customers.

    4. Offset negative impact

Companies can invest in local communities in order to offset the negative impact their operations might have. For example, a natural resources firm operating in an underserved community might build a school, offer medical services or improve the local infrastructure. Or, imagine an airline giving consumers an "offset" choice when making a reservation. The "offset" option could pay a price premium that would be matched by the airline to fund an equivalent carbon offset.

    5. Measure positive impact

A McKinsey survey found that only 20 percent of senior executives believe that their corporate philanthropy is effective in achieving social goals. With corporate philanthropy totaling $14 billion annually, measuring results and ensuring real impact should be integral to reputation building. Intel has created a way to measure its impact with its “Intel Teach” program, which has trained more than 8 million teachers in 60 countries. Over nearly a decade, 75.4 percent of Intel Teach participants applied their new plans for integrating technology into the classroom at least once after completing the program.

Responsible giving initiatives can increase brand loyalty and therefore profits. This is increasingly true as an ethical consumer culture dominates the internet. Axia Public Relations is an expert in online reputation management and is now offering its ReviewMaxer software to the public. ReviewMaxer puts you in control of your online reviews by helping you and your company monitor, manage, improve and promote your online reputation. To learn more about ReviewMaxer request a demonstration today.

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DSC_0810_edited-82pct-1.jpgPaul R. Witkowski, MPA, is a communications professional acclaimed for delivering innovative and cost-effective results. With extensive marcomm experience in the nonprofit sector, Paul develops mutually beneficial relationships with business partners and communities. Connect with Axia on Twitter @axiapr or tell us what you think in the comments below.




Featured image credit: Creative Commons

Topics: public relations, reputation management

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