What Batman can teach you about enterprise CSR

In this follow-up to my last post 4 Ways your Brand’s Social Responsibility is falling short, I introduce a new frame for brands on how to get a much bigger bang for their CSR buck. If Batman and DC Entertainment can do it, how about you?

Breaking down the silos of brand marketing and good works

Brands fall into the same trap that limits program impact when they set up structures for enterprise corporate social responsibility (CSR). Often a foundation or similar structure is set up to manage a program budget, events and campaigns for the resident cause or charity of choice. This budget is often an endowment from prior year profits or an ongoing pot fed by a percentage of sales. The program manager works hard to deliver impact and support beneficiaries. This big win for the cause is usually only a small win for the brand. Why?

The foundations are staffed by well-meaning “CSR” managers that have to compete to get the attention of the brand managers who are motivated by sales volume and market share. The CSR is feel-good but not a priority as it is not seen as delivering reach or incremental sales. So the CSR managers are left out on an island or silo within the enterprise and viewed as more of a cost center. In other firms, like my tenure at BCLC, these programs are often managed via HR or as an executive project, not as a key strategy for sales and marketing.

This silo was validated again recently when dealing with a foundation for a major international restaurant brand. The foundation was hard pressed to get any support from the brand to use donor perks to acquire customers. A missed opportunity to leverage budgets, build brand equity and allow the foundation to help more people.

In my previous post I introduced the concept of a Virtuous Circle for Good. A solution that drives both CSR impact and new sales!

How do I create a virtuous circle for Good for my brand?

  1. Find out the acquisition cost for a brand customer. For illustration let’s say it’s $30. So let’s say customers buy three times and spend $40 on average each time. Customer value is $120.
  2. Plan a crowdfunding campaign. Choose a platform like FundRazr that makes it easy to create donor perks. Make sure the platform includes perk images and the ability to share the individual perks to ensure better CTR and campaign reach. Simply add a gift card or other brand perk that drives bums in seats or feet in the door at a few different price points. A free meal for a $20 donation. A $25 gift card for a $50 donation and so on.
  3. Consider fee sponsorship. Pick up the platform and 3rd party payment processing fees and get sponsor credit for 100% of the funds going to the cause. This can be done on an internal campaign or targetted to personal, non-profit or entrepreneurial campaigns by region and category – e.g. green, medical, creative, humane, heroes, disaster relief – whatever fits your brand values. For example, $100,000 raised for cancer victims on FundRazr gets massive social media visibility at a cost of about $8,000 sponsorship.
  4. Claimed perks drives customer acquisition. When perks are redeemed at your accepted rate of customer acquisition expense, you drive your bottom line.
  5. Corporate Hero or SME Good Neighbor. Your firm may be big or small. Whatever your footprint, you’ll create more good works in your community, have happier partners and employees and more beneficiaries. Win. Win. Win.

What are the benefits?

  1. Budget leverage – Compare eight per cent to the cost of running other programs or events. In the case of an acquisition offer via a donor perk promotional spending is re-allocated to attract new customers not subsidize current ones.
  2. Massive social reach – Crowdfunding creates online visibility by informing your network of your activity to run, share, comment, donate to or claim a perk from a campaign. Your network responds to a good story bringing in their networks. In the case of our $1 Million Operation Sharecraft campaign for Save the ChildrenDC Entertainment’s brand was shared thousands of times encouraging over 22,000 video gamers to help starving kids in Africa. Batman and the other super heroes helped gamify the funding campaign as part of a We can be Heroes matching campaign. Now that’s viral.
  3. Measurable results – Not only can you point to the funds raised for your good works, you can also track the sales lift from the new customers acquired. You can even identify and measure influencers by tracking the impact of their sharing on a leaderboard. Your social following growth is built in. Count the bean counters happy.
  4. Turning giving into getting – All causes face donor fatigue from the same old asks for help. Sponsorship, donor perks, gamification and Facebook fundraising bring excitement, visibility and charity partner engagement.

I’m not saying other CSR strategies are all bad, just introducing an innovative but proven way to use a Virtuous Circle for Good to raise more funds for your causes while also driving sales.

What do you think? Agree or disagree? I’d love to hear from you.

In future posts I’ll share how publishers like Metroland Media and other enterprise brands are leading the charge.

Bret Conkin
Bret Conkin
Bret Conkin is the Chief Crowd Evangelist of CrowdfundSuite, an alternative finance consultancy and campaign manager. CrowdfundSuite has helped international developers; hedge funds, entrepreneurs, film producers and hardware companies raise over $40 million online. Bret is an ambassador for the National Crowdfunding and Fintech Association of Canada and regular blogger and speaker at industry events.

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