How Purpose-Driven Tech Is Blending Business and Charity
With financial instability, social injustice and environmental concerns on the rise, socially conscious consumers are operating with their eyes wide open; taking inventory of the impact brands are having on the planet and humanity. Pairing profit with purpose in the age of greater transparency is vital to ensuring companies drive meaningful change in the world in which we all live.
Charitable giving is becoming an essential component of consumer brand engagement. An expanding portfolio of companies are hyper-focused on understanding what customers care about, and how to cater to those customers' growing conscience. Thanks to the digitization of the giving process, the complexity and limitations once associated with charitable contributions are a thing of the past. The way people and organizations give back has been reimagined for the better.
Purpose + Tech = A New Generation of Giving
The past year demonstrated the need for genuine engagement on the part of brands, almost always falling outside of their previously defined business scope. Yet, tying cause-driven initiatives to customer engagement demands authenticity. Posting a logo of a nonprofit partnership on a website is no longer enough. Today’s consumers want to know specifically how the companies they buy from are moving the needle to address exact societal and global problems. This is the area where merging purchase with purpose is essential.
To develop that conscious-consumer connection, brands must first understand the issues most important to their customers. Creating a transparent process by which consumers can actively participate in choosing organizations to support, brands can then generate streamlined pathways to facilitate the donation process. The democratization of giving creates a new opportunity for charities as well. Moving past the old model of partnering exclusively with large national nonprofits, brands can now offer a way to support hyper-local efforts within each consumer’s community.
Walgreens is one retailer whose participation in national programs, like Red Nose Day, will now be supplemented with localized giving. Beginning this year, myWalgreens members can donate their Walgreens Cash rewards directly to local community organizations via the app or on the company’s website. While Walgreens seeks partnerships that fit with the company’s broader initiative areas — youth, community, social impact and health equity — customers using the app to donate will see a rotating list of local nonprofits based on their location. Customers can then donate their cash rewards in any dollar amount, and spread it out across the organizations.
When done correctly, merging purpose and tech will seamlessly integrate donation channels into existing commerce platforms, allowing effortless giving by the consumer and, therefore, generating more impact for the sponsor brand. By incorporating purposeful giving into already existing daily behaviors, like shopping, brands can create intentional, meaningful interactions with their customers.
Money in the Bank
Banks, credit unions and financial institutions are primed for the opportunities presented by purpose-driven technology. No longer do customers need to write a check to the PTA or withdraw cash to bring to a fundraiser. Purpose-driven technology is an expanding avenue for banks to reach customers who have migrated away to other channels (i.e. Venmo, Paypal, Square, etc.), and pull them back into the banking ecosystem.
Tying charitable giving to existing financial products the consumer relies on — savings accounts, credit cards, car loans — keeps all transactions trackable in one online location. For the consumer, this allows for more streamlined record-keeping, particularly for tax time. Community organizations benefit, too, as automated donation methods, like rounding up credit card swipes or contributing loyalty points, are easy ways to promote repeated giving. With charities needing, more than ever, to generate recurring monthly revenue, these routine mechanisms are a perfect solution.
Through these recent efforts by emerging initiatives, technology and digitization have removed many roadblocks to giving, leading to a shift in how people think about charity. Direct funding through technology applications has improved our ability to tackle many of the most pressing social problems — poverty, education inequality, environmental destruction — and now, brands and organizations can — and must — actively and openly participate in that effort. By doing so, companies will also drive an emotional connection with customers, potentially increasing consumer value, growing spend, enhancing engagement and attracting new loyal customers.
Building brands with purpose has been John McNeel's passion for more than 25 years. While leading integrated communications agencies and global accounts in both the U.S. and overseas, John developed award-winning campaigns that leveraged higher values and purpose to help deliver growth and market success for some of the world's greatest brands.
As cofounder of in/PACT in 2015, John combined his passion for purpose-driven brands with the vision to deliver highly personalized, highly localized charitable giving experiences through a unique technology platform. Spearheading the developing of in/PACT’s proprietary GoodCoin platform for financial service institutions, as well as a robust loyalty platform that is unique in the industry, John helped in/PACT secure agreements with major Fortune 500s, including the world’s leading provider of software solutions for the financial service industry and one of the nation’s leading retailers. Reach John on LinkedIn or Twitter.