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“If there is one take-away for brands after reviewing this study, we hope it’s this: What matters most to your stakeholders should matter the most to your company.” — Brittany Hill, Catalist
have shown that consumers feel more loyal to companies that demonstrate their
purpose by connecting with the issues they care about. But what are those
issues, and how have they shifted? Catalist — a
matchmaking and measurement platform for companies and causes — recently
released new research highlighting
changes in the issues people care about and how they are choosing to engage.
Sustainable Brands caught up with Catalist CEO and co-founder Brittany
Hill to learn more about the organization and its research.
Britanny Hill: Catalist is the industry's leading data provider for social
impact partnerships — we broker connections to support right-fit partnerships
between nonprofits and brands through a dynamic, proprietary platform that
leverages leading-edge technologies powered by human experts. Our technology
includes the largest comprehensive database for the social impact industry, a
first-of-its-kind matchmaking and issue-mapping platform. We also produce data
analytics to support partnerships and quantify the impact and value from these
BH: The issues Americans care about are progressing — this affects the work
we do with companies as they make their social impact decisions. The most
progressive companies are considering their
and customers’ affinities and preferences when developing their strategies.
Digging into the motivations and inclinations of demographic and psychographic
segments of your key and coveted audiences can further enlighten your
strategies. In simple terms, knowing more about the sub-segments of your people
will allow you to customize opportunities for them to activate around the social
issues you support.
At Catalist, we wanted to understand this issue revolution at a deeper level,
and uncover how our passions and motivations have changed and how they differ
between people. So, we conducted this study, which profiles the top social
causes that resonate with Americans today. It highlights the conversations
around these issues, who is having them and how we all want to make a difference
in our communities. The study incorporates insights and contributions from
social impact powerhouses like Afdhel Aziz,
Rachel Hutchisson, Katy
Moore and Max
Lenderman, and a foreword by
BH: The ways in which people engage with the issues they care about are
evolving: They want deeper engagement with causes and knowledge about the impact
they help catalyze. Our research clearly demonstrates that Americans are
becoming more diversified in the way they support social issues. They are
turning more to their voice, expertise and abilities to have a tangible impact
on a social issue rather than simply donating money.
Over the last year, over 93 percent of Americans engaged with a social issue.
Volunteerism has nearly doubled over the past three years, and is rivaling
donations as a preferred way to support a cause: 53 percent of Americans who
engaged with a social cause donated, while 50 percent volunteered. Advocating
and engaging in social conversation around causes are becoming more popular ways
for individuals to engage with social issues, with 25 percent of people having
engaged in advocacy and 22 percent having engaged in social conversation.
That isn’t to say that philanthropy is dying — as you’ve read, it’s quite the
contrary. But many people are choosing more direct ways of supporting causes to
make a difference than donating.
BH: While issues like education, health and the environment have
always made the list of social issues we support, we are also witnessing the
emergence of topical issues like mental health and veteran affairs. The
fastest growing issues and their growth rates are:
Mental Health; 28 percent
Veteran Affairs; 25 percent
Gun Control; 18 percent
Gender Equality; 15 percent
LGBTQ Equality; 12 percent
BH: If there is one take-away for brands after reviewing this study, we hope
it’s this: What matters most to your stakeholders should matter the most to your
company. The brands with the most sophisticated and focused social impact
strategies are considering their audiences when determining their social
investments, and as the cause landscape continues to shift, this is more
important than ever. At Catalist, we recommend stakeholder consideration and
evaluation as one of the key steps in social impact strategy development. Most
companies have supported one or a few social causes for decades now. Many
designate those issues based on executive connections or brand value alignment.
Very rarely have companies analyzed stakeholder sentiment and aligned their
purpose-based decisions accordingly. Until now, the causes that matter to
stakeholders have also remained most consistent. For brands that want to win the
hearts and minds of consumers and employees, identify the social causes that
resonate most with them.
In 2018, nearly every brand claims to be a purpose-driven brand. Because we know
how important purpose and social impact are to consumers, employees and
shareholders, a company with purpose is no longer the exception but the
Exploring what purpose means to your company, your brand and your stakeholders
is the next chapter in today’s purpose-saturated world. We must all commit to
being philanthropic but go beyond giving to effectuating tangible change. The
future is built on knowing more about your people, using collaboration and
leveraging influence to solve our society’s biggest challenges. How is your
brand going to do more tomorrow than you did today?
Published Jan 30, 2019 7am EST / 4am PST / 12pm GMT / 1pm CET