How To Do Well By Doing Good
Corporate social responsibility was traditionally viewed as an obligation, or as Philip Kotler, David Hessekiel and Nancy R. Lee, the authors of the new book Good Works!, explain, "doing good to look good." In most cases, corporations did little more than write a check — or many checks, as the more organizations were supported, the more visible were the corporation’s philanthropic efforts. Controversial or social issues, such as AIDS, were left to governments and organizations specially set up for these causes. Issues that could be associated with core business products were also avoided, as this might be seen as a conflict of interest.
Today, the authors write, corporations have a radically different perspective on corporate social responsibility, recognizing the bottom-line value of doing good — from increased sales and market share and strengthened brand positioning to an increased ability to attract, motivate and retain employees. Since the 1990s, corporate social responsibility has moved from "doing good to look good" to "doing well by doing good." And rather than avoiding causes related to their products, they deliberately choose issues that relate to their core products and core markets. Corporate social responsibility is now part of corporate strategy.
According to the authors, most corporate social responsibility activities fall under six social initiatives. The first three are driven by the corporation’s marketing function. These are:
- Cause Promotion. A corporation provides funds, in-kind contributions and other corporate resources to support fundraising and participation in a cause.
- Cause-Related Marketing. A corporation links monetary or in-kind donations to the sale of a product or some other consumer action.
- Corporate Social Marketing. Although related to cause promotion, the goal here is to change behavior.
The final three social initiatives are driven by non-marketing functions of the corporation, such as community relations, human resources or foundations. These initiatives are characterized by the authors as "corporate-driven initiatives" (vs. "marketing-driven initiatives") and consist of:
- Corporate Philanthropy. The traditional approach through which a corporation makes a direct donation of cash or in-kind services.
- Workforce Volunteering. A corporate encourages employees and retail partners to volunteer at local community organizations and causes.
- Social Responsible Business Practices. A corporation adapts its business practices or investments to support social causes that improve the community or protect the environment.
Concerns and Success Factors
In chapters devoted to each of the social initiatives, the authors describe in detail how the initiatives work and list a number of real-life cases as illustration. They discuss when the initiative should be considered (cause-related marketing, for example, is best considered if the company has products with mass market appeal) and how to develop a plan for each initiative.
Although filled with stories and examples, Good Works! is not a book-length feature story about corporations doing good. Written by an eminent authority on marketing, and co-authored by two leaders in cause marketing and social marketing respectively, Good Works! is a practical, actionable guide for today’s executives seeking to achieve the dual, related goals of doing good and doing well.