As a business owner, I’m sure you’re always on the lookout for gaining a competitive edge. While delivering excellent products/services and providing top-notch customer service is a must, so is being socially responsible. Being socially conscience is essential for your survival. Customers, Millennials in particular, expect and prefer to support businesses that focus on company social causes to make a difference.

Company Social Causes

Additionally, being socially responsible can improve your bottom line by:

  • Expanding your target market size.
  • Encourages customers to pay a premium price.
  • Increases customer advocacy.
  • Improves your team’s morale and productivity.
  • Improves employee retention and attracts better candidates.
  • Makes your business more attractive to investors.
  • Provides opportunities for financial grants.

As you can see, it just makes sense to get behind company social causes. The thing is, how can you make sure that you’ll follow-through so that it doesn’t fall by the wayside.

Align with the right company social causes.

Entrepreneurs are known for wanting to make the world a better place. We’re also known for having a million ideas at once. So it shouldn’t be surprising that you probably have several social causes you want to support.

However, just like when starting your business, you first need to select one idea and run with it. You may want to help the homeless, protect the environment, and improve education. But, that’s spreading yourself way too thin – which in turn will make more challenging to follow-through.

Before you start championing a specific cause, you first need to match your company with the right cause. Sometimes this is obvious. If you sell pet products, then you would want to support a local animal shelter. If you operate a food truck, then you could help feed the homeless.

Other times it may be personal. If you come from a military family, then your social cause could revolve around helping veterans.

Still stuck? The good people over at Classy have an excellent article on how to find the right cause for your company.

Here’s some of the highlights:

  • Find a nonprofit whose mission statement and values align with yours. For example, if you sell health food, then team-up with an organization that’s fighting diseases. This will involve conducting some research.
  • Consult a professional. If you don’t have time to conduct research, then hire a company like One Hope Foundation. They specialize in matchmaking so that you’ll be working with the right non-profit.
  • Find a social media savvy partner. Does the organization have a strong social media presence? If so, it’s beneficial for both parties since that can help gain more exposure, spread the word about your partnership, and increase fan, donations, and website traffic.
  • Survey your employees. You could also ask your team what they’re interested in supporting. You can also ask how they would like to help. Do they want to volunteer or raise money?

Focus on you and your team’s skills.

“Spending too much time in your weaknesses wears you down. Spending more time in your strengths helps you renew your energy and find your flow,” writes J.D. Meier on Time.

So how does this apply to sticking with your social causes?

If you find a cause where you can put your talents, or your passion, to good use you’ll be more motivated to stick around. For example, if you can code then help build a website or app for the non-profit you choose. If you enjoy cooking, then offer to cater fundraising events.

Know what you want to accomplish.

Whenever you want to successfully follow-through with something, you need to do some up-front prep. The first place to start is knowing the goal that you want to accomplish.

When it comes to social responsibility, Susan S. Davis writes on, that the “business goal of social responsibility is to encourage the company’s actions toward the positive impact of consumer, community and employee responsibility.”

Here are some examples:

  • Instituting a hazard control program looks to “protect the public from exposure to hazardous substances through education and awareness.”
  • Setting up a foundation to improve the community, such as planting a community garden or repairing a local school.
  • Raising money to “aid local charitable, educational and health-related organizations to assist under-served or impoverished communities.”
  • Creating Shared Value. As Jocelyne Daw at JS Daw & Associates explains, is “when companies generate economic value for themselves in a way that simultaneously produces value for society by addressing social and environmental challenges.” For example, if you manufactured shoes, you could launch a line specifically for underprivileged people.
  • Spreading social awareness. For instance, if you were a payments company you would create content informing people how to protect themselves from cybercriminals. This also shows that you follow compliance and ethical business standards.

Nikki Korn, principal of Cause Consulting, adds that in order to create an effective social responsibility mission for your company you should;

  • Be authentic.
  • Think locally — even if you’re national or global company.
  • “Focus on an effort that promotes teamwork and passion among your employees. In most cases, the staff plans the vision.”
  • Make social responsibility a part of your company’s DNA.
  • Promote your cause.

Understand the sacrifice.

When you start devoting resources your social cause, it’s going to take some resources away from somewhere else. For example, you might have to sacrifice a family dinner here and there. As for your business, you may lose out on some profits.

According to a Florida Atlantic University study, companies that “do good” are likely to find that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is bad for their bottom lines.

This shouldn’t be all that surprising since you’re diverting time and money from your business to your social cause. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the long-run, but if you don’t have the resources now, that could spell trouble.

Make social responsibility work for your company.

“Giving back” doesn’t cut it these days. Instead, you need to be a good business that does good things. Toms Shoes, Annie’s Homegrown, and Warby Parker are just a couple of businesses that have achieved this goal. In other words, as mentioned above, it’s a part of their DNA.

So, how can you make social responsibility work your company?

Start as early as possible. Being socially conscious should be tied into your brand’s mission. Once you determine what you want that to be, you’ll be associated as a “good” business. Of course, this also means promoting your social mission.

Also, don’t forget to get your customers involved. Encourage them to come out volunteer or allows them to choose where cause dollars will go. This makes them feel more empowered and engaged.

Set deadlines.

Setting a deadline is a great motivator. That’s because it lets you know whether or not you’re on track for achieving a goal. For example, let’s say you want to raise a $1,000 in two weeks. You’ll use that deadline to hustle so that you’ll reach that goal.

Even more, make that declaration public on channels like social media. As noted in The New York Times, “Publicly committing to meeting a deadline is a powerful motivator because it puts your reputation on the line.”

Establish charity rewards and bonuses.

Finally, use incentives like rewards and bonuses to stay committed. As I mentioned in an article for Entrepreneur, this could be offering unlimited time-off for volunteering or connecting donations to sales figures. You could also launch a referral program “where employees who refer people who make charitable donations or complete charitable hours.”