Image courtesy of Flickr, acnatta



“GivingSA Declares November 2016 “Contribute to a Community Cause Month”


GivingSA has declared Novmber as their company “Contribute to a Community Cause” month. We are all part of a larger, connected family, thus, a community. Regardless of how large of small your city is, you’ll find people you know working hard to make life better for someone else.

The idea is simple enough, volunteering time or money — or both — are doable for most people. After all, the average contribution to charity is about $2,104.38 per year (according to the latest IRS statistics for 2010), so most families find a way to give regardless of household income. Giving or volunteering has beneficial health factors, and imagine what it does for people in need! In November you should prepare to align yourself with your favorite cause, your passion and give your time or money to the charity of your choice.

There are many organizations to help put donors and volunteers together with charitable organizations. Examples include Volunteer Match or our own GivingSA. We formed SAKnows online magazine and GivingSA nonprofit to align business and charities. This concept is known as Cause Marketing. Organizations like Volunteer Match and GivingSA promote cause marketing solutions and make it easy to engage consumers in volunteer efforts, aligning brands with positive social action across local communities.

For businesses, the question remains, “When will the light bulb go on?” Business can benefit immensely through brand awareness and brand positioning based on giving, volunteering and aligning with the appropriate cause. The age-old concept of cause marketing, as a business strategy, has long been practiced by larger companies.

In San Antonio, one only need to look around at existing businesses to see H-E-B’s HE Butt Foundation, or Valero’s The Valero Energy Foundationor Gordon Hartman’s  Morgan’s Wonderland and Gordon Hartman Family Foundation. Of course, they contribute time and money for the right reasons. Nonetheless, the effects of giving are a powerful motivator in the minds of consumers and in the consumer’s buying decision-making process. Reputation is a key issue discussed among social sites today and impact as much as 40% of all purchases because brand impacts the reputation. All-in-all, in the consumer’s mind, the convergence of brand and reputation come together to form one opinion by the consumer at buying time and are essentially the same thing.


“Cause Marketing Works for Business and Charities”

Since the beginning of civilization, a fundamental human value has been people helping people and in the process, helping themselves. The act is familiar even where the word “volunteer” is not. Considering the potential impact for cause marketing has for business, because it’s been around a very long time. Most cultures recognize it with a specific word. Most cultures have names to describe it:

  • Baranguay in the Philippines;
  • bénévolat and volontariat in France;
  • gotong royong in Indonesia;
  • harambee in Kenya;
  • shramadana in India;
  • al taawun wal tawasul in many Arab States.

Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity and is intended to promote good or improve human quality of life. In return, this activity produces a feeling of self-worth and respect; however, there is typically no financial gain. Volunteering is also renowned for skill development, socialization, and fun. It is also intended to make contacts for possible employment. Many volunteers are specifically trained in the areas they work, such asmedicineeducation, or emergency rescue. Others serve on an as-needed basis, such as in response to natural disasters.

  • The verb volunteerwas first recorded in 1755 from the noun, inC.1600, “one who offers himself for military service,” by M.Fr. Voluntaire. In the non-military sense, the word was first recorded during the 1630s. The word volunteering has more recent usage—still predominantly military—coinciding with the word community service. In a military context, a volunteer army is a military body whose soldiers chose to enter service, as opposed to having been conscripted. Such volunteers do not work “for free” and are given regular pay.
  • If a student is engaged in some sort of volunteer work, taking agap yearafter high school or during college is also one form of volunteering. Career break is also considered to be a form of volunteering, until involved in a voluntary work.

19th Century

  • Prior to the 19th century, few formal charitable organizations existed to assist people in need.
  • During this time, America experienced the Great Awakening. People became aware of the disadvantaged and realized the cause for the movement against slavery. Younger people started helping the needy in their communities. In 1851, the first YMCAin the United States was started, followed seven years later by the first YWCA. During the Civil War, women volunteered their time to sew supplies for the soldiers.
  • Salvation Armyis one of the oldest and largest organization working for disadvantaged people. Though it is a charity organization, it has organized a number of volunteering programs since its inception.

20th & 21st Centuries

  • In the first few decades of the 20th century, several volunteer organizations were founded, including the RotaryKiwanis, andLions clubThe Great Depressionsaw one of the first large-scale, nationwide efforts to coordinate volunteering for a specific need. During World War II, thousands of volunteer offices supervised the volunteers who helped with the many needs of the military and the home front, including collecting supplies, entertaining soldiers on leave, and caring for the injured.
  • After World War II, the people shifted the focus of their altruistic passions to other areas, including helping the poor and volunteering overseas. A major development was the Peace Corpsin 1960. When President Lyndon B. Johnson declared aWar on Poverty in 1964, volunteer opportunities started to expand and continued into the next few decades. The process for finding volunteer work became more formalized, with more volunteer centers forming and new ways to find work appearing on the World Wide Web.

Volunteerism is strongly influenced by the history, politics, religion and culture of communities. What may be valued as volunteerism in one country may be dismissed as low-paid or labor-intensive work in another. Despite the wide variety of understandings and words to describe it, volunteerism is made up of some core characteristics. What constitutes voluntary activity is:

1.)    That it is under taken primarily for freedom from financial gain or reward, (although reimbursement of expenses and some token payment may be allowed and even recommendable to facilitate access of individuals from all economic backgrounds);

2.)    It is undertaken voluntarily, according to an individual’s own free will;

3.)    Voluntary activity brings benefits to people other than the volunteer, although it is recognized that volunteering brings significant benefit to volunteers as well.

jfk“JFK Congratulates Peace Corps Volunteers”

John F. Kennedy greets Peace Corps volunteers on August 28, 1961

Volunteerism is about people helping, learning and actively participating in communities. Volunteerism has no borders. It is a cross-cutting social phenomenon that involves all groups in society and all aspects of human activity. It can take many different forms, depending on cultural and economic realities of countries and communities. Four expressions of volunteerism evolved out of a United Nations effort to define and promote volunteerism in 2001:

  1. Mutual aidin many parts of the world constitutes the main system of social and economic support. It often plays a primary role in the welfare of communities in developing countries, from small informal kinship and clan groupings to more formal associations and welfare groups.
  1. Philanthropy or serviceto others is distinguished from mutual aid in that the primary recipient of the volunteering is not the member of the group him or herself, but an external third party, although most people would acknowledge that philanthropy includes an element of self-interest.
  1. A third expression of volunteerism is participation or civic engagement. This refers to the role played by individuals in the governance process, from representation on government consultation bodies to user involvement in local development projects. As a form of volunteering, it is found in all countries, although it is most developed in countries with a strong tradition of civic engagement.
  1. Advocacy or campaigning is a form of volunteerism which may be instigated and maintained by volunteers. It may include working towards a change in legislation affecting the rights of people with disabilities, or the introduction of anti-discrimination measures. Through advocacy and campaigning, volunteers have paved the way for the introduction of new welfare services in the field of HIV/AIDS, have raised public consciousness about human rights and the environment, and have been active in the women’s movement.

Volunteerism takes many forms and shapes. Each type, regardless of categorization is necessary to benefit the overall community. Where the missed opportunity exists is in small to median sized businesses. According to Dave Howell, president of Blue Planet Marketing, a local advertising, PR and marketing firm, “It’s been my experience that business should capitalize on cause marketing, as a strategy”.

In thinking through whether “should my company engage in cause marketing?” – I offer a bit of advice: 1.) do it for the right reason, 2.) find something you and your employees are passionate about, 3.) integrate the efforts into the goals of the company, and 4.) communicate it!



                                       “Charities Need Help from Businesses – Volunteer!”