Social impact programs are strategic investments that can successfully communicate what a brand stands for and help drive positive societal impact. They also build and improve brand reputation, increase preference and purchase among consumers, and help retain and recruit employees.
When it comes to consumers, it's critical to ensure transparency of your mission and goals, demonstrate authentic alignment with the right social issue and communicate the impact of your efforts in a compelling way. Ensuring that critical internal stakeholders are engaged and aligned from the get-go is equally important to a program’s long-term effectiveness.
With the goal of creating a successful cause-related program, Rich Maiore, senior VP for social impact/CSR Group at Cone Communications, outlines 4 must-have components of great social impact programs:
- Consensus. Confirm alignment and agreement among internal stakeholders on the business objectives of the program and clarify departmental and individual roles. Too often, programs fail due to lack of agreement and accountability among key leaders.
- Capacity. Ensure that you have enough talent and time allocated to the program to effectively execute. A truly successful program is embedded into the culture of an organization, with nearly all departments playing important roles. This cannot be a one-person operation.
- Commitment. Take a long-term approach and make the necessary investments to achieve your program goals. Success around cause programs does not happen overnight. It can’t simply be a Q4 promotion. Programs can take up to three years to achieve strong momentum and maturity. Smart companies plan and act accordingly.
- Champion. Recruit internal leaders to be strong advocates for the program. The best programs are built from the inside out, relying on senior leadership as well as front-line employees to participate, promote and advocate on behalf of the program.
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