Growing Your Brand With Purpose

In the session, we were joined by Molly Trerotola, head of Social Impact at Shopping Gives, to talk about giving back to the community, taking us through the step-by-step process of how we can incorporate giving back in our business plan.  

It’s a new year and we’re all feeling motivated to do better, whether that be in business and/or in life. We’re looking to be kinder to ourselves and to others and have a healthy and happy 2022. We’re hoping this year will be a triumphant and successful one and what better way to start out than donating and doing charity work?

Now more than ever people are buying for the people and the purpose behind a brand. The impact organizations have in the world becomes more transparent, consumers are expecting businesses to become more socially responsible for their imprint in society and in culture, and the world as a whole.  

Molly Trerotola

In a survey undertaken by Cone, Porter Novelli, a ‘purpose study’, found that ‘78% of Americans believe companies must do more than just make money; they must positively impact society as well.’ (2018 Cone/Porter Novelli Purpose Study)

Figure out the best ‘giving back’ opportunity for your company

There’s a whole world of ways you can give back as a business! The goal is to establish an agreement to donate. Here is a list of things to consider before deciding which type of donation or charity work you will be contributing:

  1. Think about what non-profits you want to partner with based on your values and company culture – What does your company believe in? What areas does your company care about internally?
  2. What do you think your customers care about? 
  3. How does your product or service align with the charity you’re thinking of partnering with? 

Don’t be afraid to tell your story and share the work you’re doing. Raise awareness for the non-profit you’re working with proudly so others can join you in the ‘giving back’ journey. 

We thought of three ideas to get you inspired::

–       Sustainability – With every sale on a specific product, plant a tree!

–       Charity –  Donating a percentage of the revenue made from a specific product to a certain charity. 

–       Involve your customer: ask to round up and match their donation at checkout. 

Really it’s about making social impact accessible to everyone because as we’ve seen time and time again, especially in the last couple of years, doing good is no longer nice to have, especially for e-commerce companies, it’s necessary for them to support their bottom line, and engage their customers.

Molly Trerotola

Tune in to learn more about different ways to give back and how, not only the world benefits from it, but your brand as well.

  • TRANSCRIPT: eComm Weekly – EP22


    We got a great podcast or a room for you. Hey others, Molly. Hi. Hello. How are you? Good. Oh, so this is going to be a good episode. I know we were talking on my podcast recently and. We had just a ton of questions in our, in our group. So anyways, let’s get this started. I’m norm Farrar, and I have a podcast called lunch with norm, which, uh, is live every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

    Uh, I thought it’d be a really great way. You know, giving these new year’s resolutions. And I thought, what better way to start off the new year then, you know, how can you [00:01:00] become a better corporate citizen? And I thought, well, Molly was on our podcast recently and she talked about her company shopping gifts and what they do, and basically the.

    Practices for corporations in to 2022 when it comes to charity work or donations. So before we get started, um, just wanted to mention to everybody that the room is being recorded. Uh, if you do want a question, if you do have questions and we’re open to questions, we love engagement. Raise your hand. Okay.

    If you don’t want to get recorded, just don’t ask a question. Uh, other than that, we are open. We want to be engaged and we’re looking forward. I think this is going to be a fantastic room. So first of all, I want to just introduce my guest today. Um, uh, Molly, uh, tra I’m going to say this wrong Ricola.

    That’s correct. Right. Yeah, you did a great job. All right. [00:02:00] Perfect. Um, well Molly is part, like I mentioned, she’s the head of social impact over at shopping gives and shopping gives us a certified B corporation and an award-winning technology startup focused on building an economy of giving by creating a positive impact through everyday purchases.

    Now. I think, I don’t even think a lot of our listeners even know that this is available and that’s where I think it’s so important. So many companies want to give, um, or have the choice to give by. They think it’s difficult and your technology just makes it so easy for people to do what they want to and give to who they want in a very easy way.

    Um, Molly, can you just tell us a little bit, a bit more about, uh, shopping gear? Yeah, absolutely. So shopping gives is a social impact e-commerce platform, powering thousands of socially conscious brands donations to non-profit. Our [00:03:00] vision and mission are like onus as a company is really to create impact with every action.

    By making, giving as seamless as possible for brand partners so that they can focus on doing good and not how to do good, because donating to non-profits while it should seem like a really easy thing. When you think about the complications of a cause marketing, it can actually get pretty complicated with the legality of it.

    So our platform both provides the resources and the technology for brands to donate to. Of the 1.8 million 5 0 1 C3. In our database. Um, but we’re also, we make it really easy for them to launch corporate social responsibility campaigns and give to nonprofits in a really turnkey fashion. Um, another thing we’re focused on doing is democratizing impact, making it, making sure.

    Back as accessible to brands of all sizes and nonprofits of all sizes instead of just brands with the big [00:04:00] capital and, um, and household name non-profits, um, I can dive into, you know, the, the nuts and bolts of the technology and how we make that happen, but really it’s about me. Social impact accessible to everyone because as we’ve seen time and time again, especially in the last couple of years, doing good is no longer a nice to have, especially for e-commerce companies.

    It’s, uh, for, for retail companies, it’s necessary for them to support. Bottom line and engage their customers. Um, as Knorr mentioned, we’re also a certified B corporation and that’s really important to us. We’re very dedicated to social impact, um, and having a positive impact on our community, both external and internal.

    Okay. Well, thank you for that. Um, I guess the focus today is going to be on. Best practices. You know what I started doing, uh, or looking into, uh, providing donations [00:05:00] or any form of, uh, uh, promotions with our, uh, with our soap company, for example, or with some of the other companies I’m involved with, I thought it was.

    Well, it could be a real hassle. And you brought something out that I had no idea about, and we’ll get into this in a second or the problems that you have to look out for the legalities that, I mean, you got me a little bit nervous and I went back talking to some of the people that we were working with, uh, about this.

    And we’re going to get into that in a second, but can we talk like first started off with some best practices? What are. Oh, there are so many breast practices, uh, for giving back to nonprofits. Just to take a step back and talk about corporate social responsibility. In general, we’re specifically talking about the philanthropic side to CSR.

    So donations to nonprofits, there’s a whole world of other verticals of [00:06:00] CSR, uh, employee engagement and sustainability practices. Um, diversity, equity and inclusion. In this conversation, we’re specifically talking about philanthropy partnerships with nonprofits and giving back to them. Then that’s kind of our bread and butter area of expertise as a company.

    So marketing campaigns, a lot of things, companies, a lot of, a lot of companies don’t know that, uh, in order to donate, you have to have a commercial co-venture agreement. And, um, that involves lawyers and a lot of time and energy and money on both the nonprofit and brand side to. Establish this agreement and donate to, uh, uh, a nonprofit compliantly.

    Some brands will especially, you know, brands. Um, we’ll just go ahead and compliance, but guess that shopping gives on ensuring [00:07:00] that that companies can donate to any non-profit and our database compliantly. And we actually make that possible through the shopping gives foundation. Um, there’s kind of a, like, Work around for that, that I’ll explain a little later, but yeah, compliance is definitely front and center for shopping gives and, um, and brands who want to do good.

    So, you know, when they come to our door and, and ask about how to get started, we make sure they’re well versed on compliance first and foremost.

    Sorry. I was on mute. So I sell on Amazon. I’m an online seller. I talked to a, um, uh, a nonprofit and they say, okay, you know, go ahead. Um, you know, we’re happy to receive your donation. And I throw an insert into my, um, my box. My package is saying that we’re giving 5% of every soap sale, um, to [00:08:00] this nonprofit.

    Now that by itself sounds great. But you could be falling into some legal implications. Um, just because, uh, well, first of all, you’re open to that. Non-profit to come back and say, Hey, are you really giving us 5% of all sales? Yeah. Well, that’s another thing that, um, companies don’t know is the dollar amount has to be the dollar amount of the donation actually has to be front and center to the consumer.

    So you can’t just say over sales in the actual purchase. You have to convert what that 1% is. And that’s what our technology does directly on product pages. So when a customer is shopping for say a $100 shoe and the company is donating 10%, the donation will, instead of saying, we’re donating 10%, the technology will say $10 of this sale is donated to enter name of nonprofit, UNICEF, feeding America, et cetera.

    Yeah, I, you know, it’s always [00:09:00] great to say that you’re you’re donating, but you, you really do have to back it up. The other thing that you told me about to look for is are there any guaranteed. No, do we, when you’re signing that, that contract or the agreement with, with the nonprofit, um, to make sure that the guarantees are not locked in there, that you owe $50,000 at the end of the year, if you’re a smaller Amazon seller, I can see marina on here.

    I know marina and she’s an Amazon seller. So she goes out and she says, okay, I really want to do this. And she doesn’t realize that she is committed now to 25,000 or 50,000. Um, so that is something that you brought to my attention. Um, I think it’s very important. So even if you’ve got an agreement, you have to have this thing checked over by a lawyer, correct?

    Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I mean, so it really depends on the non-profit you’re working with a lot of nonprofits, especially large organizations will have donation minimums, and that’s because of the cause [00:10:00] marketing compliance and the bandwidth, it takes to develop a relationship with a brand, um, for a lot of large nonprofits, they, you know, While they want to engage with every company that wants to donate to them.

    It’s just not worth their, their time and energy, unless it hits a minimum donation amount. So if you’re partnering with a large group or large organization, they might require a $25,000 minimum. And then it’s really up to the brand to hit that. Um, one of the unique aspects of the shopping gives tech is that we help brands give back to nonprofits, um, outside of that donation minimum, because we are providing turnkey technology for.

    Brands to give back. So, um, whereas many non many of the non-profits in our database would require a donation minimum. They actually make an exception for brands giving through shopping gives because the nonprofit doesn’t have to do any work on their end. And they’re very happy about that. Right. And typically, you know, I’m not pushing an app at all.

    Um, you know, w [00:11:00] we, we don’t pitch, however, this is a very unique, uh, app and it makes it so easy. The versions that you have of this, if somebody does want to take advantage of it, you know, oh, there’s okay. How do I do it? How do I put it on Shopify? How do I get everything done? How do I reconcile? And you’ve got a, um, a couple of different programs.

    One is a reprogram, and then one is a bit more, um, if you want to, uh, do a variety of other, um, other types of. Giving options. Um, so do you want to just talk about that? Uh, for a second? Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I mean, you hit the nail on the head, so. So we work with brands of all shapes and sizes ranging from, you know, single-person run Shopify stores all the way to multi-billion dollar luxury brands.

    Like we just partnered with coach and are running all of their philanthropic giving. So there [00:12:00] are features and products and levels for a brand of any size to leverage our tech. Um, and then from the product perspective, the. Uh, the features we offer are really unique. Our goal here is to allow brands to give back to nonprofits they care about and their customers care about in, um, unique, unique ways to really customize their giving strategy.

    So brands can donate a percentage of purchase or a set dollar amount. And that’s really great for, um, nonprofits that have. Did impact stories. For example, one tree planted. If you donate like $5, you plant five trees. Um, so they can donate in that way. They can also, um, set up a collection of products.

    Dedicated to a specific nonprofit, like all purple products on your website, go to the Alzheimer’s association. Um, and then engaging customers is a part of our features too, by having Roundup and [00:13:00] add on donation. So this is all to say that the customization is really to the nth degree. It really, it depends on what the brand and the brand wants to do, um, and to offer their customers.

    And then. You know where our technology comes into play. Um, Our database of 1.8 million 5 0 1 C3. So as long as the nonprofit is in good standing with the IRS, they are part of our database. And this is crucial for brands who want to let their customers choose who to donate to. Um, some brands will have preexisting relationships with organizations.

    They care a lot about like Kenneth Cole gives back to the mental health coalition. They had a preexisting relationship with that nonprofit. And then there are other brands who really want to learn. About their customer’s philanthropic preferences by letting their customers choose who to give to. So a company can find out that their customers care a lot about environmental sustainability or maybe fighting hunger in America is more closely tied to their values.

    And by learning these [00:14:00] data, this data and insights, they can leverage that to drive their social impact decision-making and donations in the future. So, um, the information gathering is also really important to the brands. Yeah. One of the things that you can take from that as well. I love that by the way, that you can have multiple, um, uh, Mo multiple charities there.

    Um, but, uh, what I love is that you can go out there. You know the demographic then. So we might be going out to X, Y, and Z, and they’re completely different demographics. So by understanding who is going, where that could also help with your marketing, which is, which is, you know, just another great tool for you.

    But one of the other areas let’s talk about. Uh, and you’re going to roll your eyes because you probably talk about this, you know, too much, but let’s talk about the positives, the positives of a small business, being able to give and show that they’re a good corporate citizen. [00:15:00] I, yeah, you bring up a really great point.

    And I think I want to mention some statistics here about the importance of social impact in e-commerce in commerce, in general and companies in general. So. First of all, you know, now more than ever people are buying for the people in the purpose behind a Brit, uh, the impact organizations have in the world becomes more transparent.

    Consumers are expecting businesses to become more socially responsible for their imprint on society and, uh, in culture in the world as a whole. We kind of classify this group of shoppers called generation impact, which is about 140 million individuals. And they have a spending power in the U S alone of 3 trillion.

    Um, and you know, we’ve done a lot of surveys and we’ve done our research pulling from how generation impact, uh, shops in their, uh, in their influence on [00:16:00] e-commerce 71% would purchase from a purposeful. Company over the alternative when cost and quality are equal 62% believe a company’s purpose is important is an important factor when making a quick or impulse purchase, 83% would consider a company’s purpose when making, um, purchase decisions.

    So these stats illustrate the importance of a company, having some social impact strategy and really driving. Uh, driving foot first with their values to better engage their customers while doing good as something companies should just do because they want to be good corporate citizens. Um, it also has a positive impact on their bottom line as seen by those stats.

    And this is not just for. You know, the companies with a lot of capital that can have philanthropy departments, it’s really for companies of all size to engage their customers and keep them engaged and coming back [00:17:00] for more. Uh, we’ve also seen in our tech that customers who donate actually spend more so average order value increases when there’s a donation applied to it.

    And I think those are really inspiring stats to see how customers are engaging with the company socially. And I have to apologize. That was my phone falling to the floor. Oh, wait, sorry about that. Um, okay. If we’re not going to be using the app, which I highly recommend anybody go and check it out, but if we’re not using the apps, what are some of the do’s and don’ts when you want to set it up on your cell by yourself, specifically with.

    Uh, not so much with strike, but they want to give, and they don’t want to use the app. So the other app, I mean, so some of our recommendations are recommendations for nonprofits engaging, uh, sorry, brands engaging in social impact, [00:18:00] really range in, um, in strategy. There’s so many ways a company can give back.

    Yes, of course. There’s the, the shopping gives route, which is, um, enveloping. Social impact within your customer’s e-commerce journey, but there are so many other ways you can engage both your internal and external community first is really aligning with values and igniting your company culture. Um, and then taking that to the next step.

    You know, what non-profits do you want to partner with and, um, what cause areas does your company care about internally? And, and what do you think your. Your customers care about externally. Um, how can you create an overarching mission and vision that ties back to devalues? I think it’s also great to, um, look at what other companies are doing and get some inspiration.

    So of course there are the Patagonia’s of the world, um, who have inspiring give back [00:19:00] strategies, but specifically for your company, look at, you know, other examples and, uh, that you’d like to emulate in the social impact world. Communicating your story is super important. So you can give back to a nonprofit, but don’t be afraid to communicate the impact.

    It’s not reputation scrubbing. Uh, you’re not doing social impact in authentically. If, if you put some dollars behind the marketing of it, and if there’s a nonprofit involved in, um, in that story as well, then it’s beneficial for them because, um, they. Get the additional awareness to your customers. Um, and then of course there are, you know, some best practices for how to engage your customers and better engage your customers in social impact with marketing.

    Um, making sure you’re aligning, you know, if you give. Expand your giving efforts beyond just a single non-profit [00:20:00] you care about. You can always align your giving strategy with awareness days and milestones. Every single month has several cause related, aware awareness days that you can give back around like, um, coming up, we have national cancer prevention month in February, and shopping gives us partnering with American cancer society and encouraging brands to get.

    Um, to that organization, there’s also black history month coming up in February earth, month in April. Um, there are a lot of ways you can integrate impact within your marketing efforts on a consistent basis. Those are just some best practices that came to mind. So you were talking about a couple of the best practices on the promotional side.

    Are there any limitations that people have to be aware of how they can be.

    Yeah. Yeah. So, um, Specifically with nonprofit [00:21:00] partnerships. If you are giving back to a nonprofit, you usually from a limitation perspective, you likely need permission from that nonprofit to use their name and logo for larger organizations. They’re going to have. More limitations around that they might require a donation minimum.

    So before giving back to an organization, especially if it’s a well-known one, you should check in on their website and see if you need to request permission to, to partner with them. Um, and what their guidelines are. Um, a lot of nonprofits are very conservative. Especially large ones are conservative with their name and logo usage.

    And if they’re a values driven organization, which most nonprofits are, they want to vet the companies that are giving back to them, um, to make sure they align with their values. So if you’re taking a first step and you want to give back to a nonprofit and partner with them, those are just a couple of things I would look at making sure you haven’t even logo usage and that, um, you have permission from the nonprofits.[00:22:00] 

    All right. Fantastic. Now just wanted to let people know this, the, uh, the room’s going to be closing shortly. Uh, but if you do have any questions, please let us know, raise your hand and we’ll get you up on the panel. All right. The other part to this, you were talking about w w what we were just talking about promoting.

    Are you able to, or do you, would you recommend that you put the money, like you were just mentioning, put money into social media, into press releases into the content marketing on your website? It’s just some different areas that you can promote. Where would you say. We always recommend brands have an impact page on their website.

    If you’re doing good show your customers, how you’re doing good, especially if it integrates into your, your business model. Um, yeah, I think it’s fine to put some money behind promotion of your give back initiatives. [00:23:00] Um, as long as it’s proportional, I think, you know, that’s something you have. Careful about.

    Um, and again, if you, if your brand did specific work with a nonprofit, then it’s an opportunity for the nonprofit to raise awareness and potentially, um, earn some new donors and support to their organizations. So partner with them and, and think about how you can cope, promote and communicate what the partnership was.

    Are there any ways when you’re promoting that you I’ve seen it? And I know when I see the ads of the post where it really looks cheesy, it looks like the, the company that won it, that’s promoting is just doing it because they want to look like they’re a good corporate citizen. No, that they’re just doing it for the wrong reasons.

    Yeah. You bring up an interesting point, um, especially with generation impact, which is, you know, The conscious based consumers. A lot of [00:24:00] millennials, millennials have the highest purchasing power, especially in the United States. They can spot in authentic social impact from a mile away. And even more than millennials, gen Z peers can stop in authentic giving.

    So. I would just make sure whatever statement your company is making or giving strategy you’re promoting, it’s done authentically. And if you’re making a commitment to a nonprofit, make sure that your company as a whole, not just in your philanthropy, uh, strategy aligns with those organization’s values.

    Um, again, I think we saw this a lot last year. You know, um, in, in 2020 with, uh, racial and social justice in, in the, in the commerce world, that a lot of companies made these bold statements committing to black lives matter. And then people raise their hand and were like, well, what are you doing about it?

    Just sending out a tweet or posting on [00:25:00] LinkedIn doesn’t mean that your company is. Making making a change. So what actions are you doing? And are you putting any dollars behind it? So people will hold companies accountable and, um, use their purchasing power to do so. And I think that individual power is so critical and I’m excited to see how customers, uh, influence companies moving forward.

    Great. So one of the things I absolutely wanted to bring across, because there’s so many entrepreneurs on here, so many online sellers and, uh, Amazon, specifically Amazon sellers. I wanted to show that it doesn’t matter if you’re just starting. Um, you’re a small seller, medium or large seller. Uh, it’s so important that you, you build.

    Into your business model. Um, you want to do it for the right reasons and I wanted to provide you with the access to shopping gives, so check out Molly [00:26:00] and the app, um, shopping gives it, makes it so easy to implement this into and to just to add this to your Shopify sites and. It it’s cheaper. Well, cheap free is good.

    And then they have the paid platform. And for most Amazon’s small sellers, the free version is 100% perfect. You’re doing something. You’re doing something for the good, uh, Where, uh, I think right now, I think it’s the perfect time to do something like this. And I’m just kind of back and forth. I don’t know what’s going on right now.

    I don’t know if I’ve got a bit of a cold coming on, but my brain is frazzled. So sorry about going all over the map right now. However, the main reason is take a little. At your business, what you’re doing, take a look at the other side of the fence, what you can do for other people and take a look at, uh, shopping gives.

    And I, again, I don’t promote, I don’t pitch, uh, but I [00:27:00] thought this is a fantastic version. We are starting to work with shopping gives at the same time. And, um, it’s an awesome, it’s an awesome app. And Molly, I wanted to thank you on how do I thank you for coming on? How do people get ahold? Um, yeah, you can email me

    Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. And if you’re interested in learning more about the company, uh, we have a lot of great educational resources around, um, you know, how to activate giving and impact driven marketing and, um, you know, social impact guides for retailers. Just visit our website. All of these materials are free and downloadable.

    So even if you don’t engage with our technology, uh, if even if you don’t integrate our technology, you can learn a lot about how to implement social impact for your. Very good. So thank you, Molly. Thanks Rachel, for being on. Um, I do want to let everybody know that [00:28:00] there is an incredible room coming on at two o’clock with Jeffrey Moore, Geoffrey Moore.

    You should know he’s the author of crossing the chasm. Uh, inside the tornado anyways, uh, he will be on it to, uh, 2:00 PM Eastern standard time. So check it out. One of the other startup rooms and, uh, just wanted to thank start up, uh, startup, uh, doc, uh, startup clubs for allowing us to have this room today.

    And thank you. I’ll be back, uh, next Thursday at one o’clock and we’ll see you then. Thanks everybody.

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