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Marketing and Comms
How a Fancy Pancake Helped Save The Bay:
Lessons for Giving Tuesday

The company-employee-cause relationship has been transformed over the years; why not the company-customer-cause relationship, too? At Phin, we work to help companies build impactful relationships with consumers and charitable organizations through sponsored donations.

Chances are you’ve heard of Giving Tuesday, but what do you know about it? How does it work — and how can your business participate in a meaningful way that benefits your consumer, the cause and your brand? Give us two minutes.

Falling on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving each year (this year on December 3rd), #GivingTuesday is quite the opposite of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This honorable national holiday, symbolic of the kick-off to end-of-year giving campaigns, is the biggest “giving” movement in the world! First introduced in the US in 2012, the rallying cry to this campaign was the belief that technology and social media could be used to make generosity go viral. And boy, has it worked! On Giving Tuesday 2018, 3.6 million people in 150 countries raised over $400 million, with the average donation just over $105. Talk about impact!

That said, there are two challenges that we see in fundraising:

1. How to avoid donor fatigue in the ever-expanding (and impressive) tools asking for consumer-funded donations

2. How to involve consumers and give them a voice in corporate philanthropy.

There’s already an impressive array of fundraising tools weaved into our online and offline lives that are ‘convenient’ touch points to enable donations from consumers. As a consumer, you know these programs well and see them in social media fundraising tools, Point of Sale round-up apps, and the many in-person events we participate in.

There an admirable suite of tools to financially support great causes. Last year, nonprofits using Facebook raised more than $125 million for charity on Giving Tuesday, up 178 percent from 2017, meanwhile organizations using the Donate Your Change app have raised over $1 billion in three years! Yet, there is a risk of saturation and a weary donating public.

It is important, too, that we recognize that companies have an opportunity to bring their customers into their philanthropy as a partner. A recurring theme of Sustainable Brands '19 Detroit was engagement and authenticity, particularly with regard to Millennials and Gen Z populations. As presented in Detroit, a 2018 Deloitte study shows that “Millennials could hardly be clearer about their priorities and concerns.” Unfortunately, two-thirds of these groups believe that companies have no ambition beyond wanting to make money. We are in a stage of a private-sector authenticity crisis.

As Thomas Kolster says, “Instead of painting your brand as the hero, why not take the backseat and make your customer the hero?” Customers desire to be empowered to choose, rather than told what’s important. Why not involve the customer in corporate giving programs, make them a part of the experience and give them a choice where philanthropy is directed? After all, in most cases they have ‘earned the impact’ through their many interactions with a company.

The company-employee-cause relationship has been transformed over the years; why not the company-customer-cause relationship, too? At Phin, we work to tackle these challenges by helping companies build impactful relationships with consumers and nonprofit charitable organizations through sponsored donations. PhinPoints can be earned through social media campaigns, newsletters, on-product branding and limitless other ways — at no cost to the consumer. Our ethos is simply that the customer has earned the impact, and should be empowered to choose the beneficiary cause. Through our platform, companies can enhance their relationships with their customers and support great causes — so, everyone wins!

The 'Shore Thing' pancake | Image credit: Paige Beallis

We recently tackled these two challenges in a cool, local campaign that was both fun and engaging.

We worked with a popular local brunch spot on Long Island called Hatch, as part of their perpetual ‘Do Good’ program to raise awareness about local conservation programs. This year, we had some fun with their annual “Shore Thing” campaign: We have a natural North Shore vs South Shore rivalry, so to highlight the importance of customer choice, the campaign featured Friends of the Bay on the North Shore and Save the Great South Bay on the South. The ultimate customer choice — North vs South!

The campaign was simple: In Instagram campaigns and in person, customers were encouraged to order a special “Shore Thing” pancake and receive an instant $5 PhinPoints donation credit to scan and redeem via smartphone. The customer could then choose one of the featured conservation causes — North Shore or South Shore — or even go discover other causes from our impact marketplace. We saw a high redemption rate, with 76 percent of customers donating their PhinPoint donation credits immediately. The campaign was designed to maximize awareness and engagement on Instagram, where we saw an impressive 84 percent improvement in engagement.

We didn’t change the world with this single local campaign, but we did reach thousands organically on Instagram, while the staff also had the opportunity to talk with hundreds of patrons about the initiative and raise awareness of two great local conservation causes. Hatch connected its philanthropy with its customers in an entirely new way.

(Oh, and if you are wondering whether the North Shore or South Shore won the Shore Thing campaign … well, we need to live and work on this island and don’t want to go into hiding. Oh, the heck with it — Go, South Shore!)

In honor of Giving Tuesday, and as a thank you for reading this article, we offer you this 1,000 PhinPoint ($10) donation as a thank you from Phin and Sustainable Brands. Go and discover great causes — you’ve earned it!