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How to boost business potential through purpose-driven partnership

Cause partnerships are your brand’s path to purpose, connecting brand to purpose, bolsters relationships, boost your sales and help you reach new audiences.

As experts in purpose-driven partnerships, we combine imagination and proven strategies to drive positive results for partners and end childhood hunger – permanently.

How to boost business potential through purpose-driven partnership

83% of consumers are more likely to buy a product or service if it’s aligned with No Kid Hungry.

Learn how to boost your business potential through a purpose-driven partnership with No Kid Hungry. Learn how to grow your brand and become a partner today.

Content Summary

Identify a cause that mirrors your values and resonates with your stakeholders
Showcase storytelling
Develop a multi-audience strategy
Share your affiliation through multiple channels
Evaluate your success through key measurements

As communities grapple with economic uncertainty, social and racial injustice and other challenges, the role of corporations has taken center stage.

Brands are realizing that aligning with a cause that resonates with both customers and team members not only boosts their credibility but it also allows them drive real ROI for their business.

“It’s never been more essential for brands to lead with purpose,” says Diana Hovey, senior vice president of corporate partnerships at Share Our Strength, which runs the No Kid Hungry campaign to end childhood hunger in America. “In today’s hyper-competitive environment, connecting brands with purpose is a prime opportunity to drive deeper, more meaningful relationships with stakeholders.”

One byproduct is brand differentiation, says Abby Kaplan, head of creative strategy at digital marketing agency Adlucent. “Consumers have nearly limitless options to get the goods they want and need, which means that trying to stand out from a product perspective isn’t enough anymore. Brands can get an edge on competitors by having strong values; standing behind something that matters to you and your shoppers makes a huge difference now.”

Brands can get an edge on competitors by having strong values; standing behind something that matters to you and your shoppers makes a huge difference now.” – ABBY KAPLAN, HEAD OF CREATIVE STRATEGY AT DIGITAL MARKETING AGENCY ADLUCENT

Shifts in consumer sentiment have changed expectations of brands permanently and connecting brands to purpose is one sure way to remain relevant. Nearly 85% of consumers say they want to see brands contribute to society, finds a survey by data intelligence provider Morning Consult.

And the business implications are profound; a report from Deloitte finds that purpose-driven companies grow an average of three times faster than their competitors while also gaining in employee and customer satisfaction.

A separate survey from Morning Consult finds that 82% of consumers say it’s either “very” or “somewhat” important for brands to stand for something beyond profit and 86% say they are more likely to purchase from companies that help people.


In this article, we’ll discuss the five key brand purposed pillars to consider when looking to build affinity and awareness while meeting your business objectives.

Identify a cause that mirrors your values and resonates with your stakeholders

There’s no question that the list of worthy organizations is endless. But there’s one word that should guide you as you approach a partnership – authenticity, says Erin Snyder, culture manager of Adlucent’s employee experience team.

Identify a cause that mirrors your values and resonates with your stakeholders

“Brands must be less reactive to trends and more thoughtful about the causes they choose,” she says. “How are you going to feel about this stance in a month or next year? Is it something you are prepared to learn about, follow up on and even build your brand around? You need to have a solid plan, rather than just thinking you can make one social post about something.”

“We see companies conducting an internal analysis of who they are and what they want to be and then determining how they can reflect that in partnerships with nonprofit organizations,” Kaplan adds.

This is precisely why brands turn so frequently to No Kid Hungry, says Hovey. “Identifying with hunger is something that touches everybody,” she notes. In fact, the group’s research finds that 90% of Americans believe all corporations have a role to play in ending childhood hunger.

That was one of the reasons The Habit Burger Grill, a fast-casual restaurant chain based in Irvine, California, chose No Kid Hungry as a partner. While The Habit Burger Grill has long given back to the communities it serves, several years ago, executives decided to expand their philanthropic reach to a national level and wanted to pair up with a complementary cause, explains Burge Diemer, vice president, brand marketing. “As a restaurant, choosing to partner with a campaign with the mission to end childhood hunger is a natural fit.” Since 2015, guests who visited the restaurant could donate $2 to No Kid Hungry in exchange for a coupon for a free Charburger on their next visit. In September 2020, The Habit Burger Grill announced a new initiative in their fundraising for No Kid Hungry. Guests were given the opportunity to round up their check to the nearest whole dollar and donate that amount to No Kid Hungry.

“If you associate your brand with a cause that is truly meaningful to your purpose and your people, it strengthens your brand overall, from the outside and the inside,” says Kaplan. “You want to make sure it’s coming from a place that is true to the brand.”

In that spirit, the General Mills Foundation has had an ongoing relationship with No Kid Hungry, focusing on expanding the reach of school meal programs in the United States. In response to COVID-19, Cheerios donated $1.3 million to No Kid Hungry in May to help provide much-needed funding in the form of grants to organizations across the country that are distributing meals to kids in their local communities. This partnership is laying the groundwork to ensure that no matter where kids are learning, they are getting access to the food they need to thrive.

“Cheerios and No Kid Hungry have a shared mission to address the growing food insecurity problem in the United States,” says Kathy Dixon, Senior manager, brand experience – Cheerios. “We are working to close this hunger gap by ensuring kids have consistent access to school meals, including breakfast.”

Showcase storytelling

Everyone loves a story, and the ability to describe the change your brand is making allows customers to identify with your mission. “Storytelling helps consumers become a part of their brand, and the brand becomes a part of their lifestyle,” Kaplan says, adding that is especially the case when there’s a natural alignment with your brand and the cause. She cites outdoor brands committed to helping stem climate change or “buy-one-give-one” promises as stand-out examples.

Showcase storytelling

“You have to enable and empower your frontline sales force with clear, concrete messaging,” says Hovey. “The ability to share specifics with donors — for example, that every dollar donated helps provide up to 10 meals to kids in need—really drives home how even giving a dollar at a time is making a profound impact.”

Lifestyle membership brand FabFitFun partnered with No Kid Hungry in 2020 during its spring season, days after nationwide lockdowns went into effect. “With more students learning virtually than ever before, it’s more challenging to reach kids with the school meals they need. But No Kid Hungry was quick to jump into action with solutions,” says Katie Rosen Kitchens, Co-Founder & Editor in Chief – FabFitFun. The brand found that showing the impact a donation could have on the number of meals for kids (i.e., $1 can provide up to 10 meals for kids in need) genuinely allowed its audience to understand the impact of their donation and was also a compelling talking point for celebrity partners.

No Kid Hungry prides itself on the creative resources it brings to the table, Hovey says. “For instance, if a brand’s campaign is largely digital with social media as a key component, we can provide rich storytelling assets like video clips that tell the stories of the kids and families we serve. Helping a brand’s target audience identify with the issue emphasizes the role they can play through their support.”

Develop a multi-audience strategy

Underscoring philanthropic endeavors with customers is critical, but the right partnership can help bolster a brand’s image with multiple audiences, including investors, vendors, franchisees and team members, to name a few. “Each of our corporate partners has a multitude of influential audiences and committing to community impact can strengthen and deepen those relationships,” Hovey says.

Develop a multi-audience strategy

Diemer of The Habit Burger Grill echoes that sentiment: “It’s important to us to be a purpose-driven brand that helps fulfill the needs of our team members and community.”

We frequently hear our partners tell us of the immense pride their team members feel because they realize they’re contributing to something greater than they ever expected, which gives meaning to their role.” – DIANA HOVEY, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF CORPORATE PARTNERSHIPS AT SHARE OUR STRENGTH

“No Kid Hungry’s mission resonated not only with the internal FabFitFun team but members as well, which meant our affiliation was beneficial from a customer retention standpoint,” says Rosen Kitchens. “The campaign also received an overwhelming response from our celebrity partners, who were eager to associate their personal brands with No Kid Hungry and the incredibly important work they do.”

And it’s not just customers who need to see brands acting ethically. “In this market, you have to engage and drive the loyalty of your employee base,” says Hovey. “We frequently hear our partners tell us of the immense pride their team members feel because they realize they’re contributing to something greater than they ever expected, which gives meaning to their role.”

“Employees want to be part of a company they feel represents their values,” Kaplan agrees.

Share your affiliation through multiple channels

It’s not easy to cut through the clutter these days, so brands need to boost their message everywhere they can to cement their affiliation with a cause in consumers’ minds.

Share your affiliation through multiple channels

For example, FabFitFun used a variety of dedicated media forms to promote its No Kid Hungry fundraising campaign, including social posts on FabFitFun’s Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram Live accounts, which reached a combined 2 million+ followers; an email sent to FabFitFun members; and editorial coverage in the in-box magazine it distributes.

April 2020, TikTok launched Donation Stickers, an inapp feature that offers creators a way to help raise funds within their videos and TikTok live streams for the charities and causes they care most about, with No Kid Hungry as one of the official partners. “The response to TikTok Donation Stickers has been positive, our community has been incredibly uplifting,” says Sean Kim, former head of product for TikTok U.S., adding that one video using a Donation Sticker raised nearly $20,000 for No Kid Hungry.

“Brands should connect everywhere their customers are spending time and certainly time on screens has skyrocketed in 2020,” says Kaplan. “The ubiquity of social media means that brands are more ingrained in people’s everyday lives, as they have conversations in ways they previously hadn’t. It’s crucial to make sure that your corporate responsibility commitment is embedded in every way your brand shows up in your industry and community.”

Evaluate your success through key measurements

Just as in any program, what gets measured gets managed in philanthropic partnerships, which is why metrics are important to No Kid Hungry.

Evaluate your success through key measurements

“We sit down with each of our partners and develop very personalized relationships and strategies as we seek to really understand what their metrics are and how we can help,” Hovey says.

For example, partners include No Kid Hungry in a variety of initiatives to engage with hard-to-reach audiences, such as organizing golf tournaments to invite customers and vendors; or they might focus on a specific business unit within an organization, like targeting the K through 12 sales force.

In the restaurant industry, where guest traffic can be a challenge, they might initiate a bounce-back campaign, where customers who donate receive a free appetizer on their next visit, or a financial services company might incent cardholder spend size or frequency.

FabFitFun’s goal is to highlight organizations that align with its core company values and are timely and relevant to its member audience. That made its connection with No Kid Hungry a natural fit, given that more than half of its members are mothers, and No Kid Hungry research shows that 99% of moms say they view a company more favorably if it is associated with No Kid Hungry.

“There are so many different, great ways that No Kid Hungry can help move the needle, and our strategies are always very individualized. Many of our partners are trying to get their foot in the door with customers in unusual ways, so it’s never one size fits all,” Hovey explains.

One recurring measure of success is growing brand favorability overall, which can increase by 16% for brands affiliated with No Kid Hungry, she says. “We hear that the opt-in rate for No Kid Hungry is far higher than a lot of other causes a brand might identify with and promote. It comes back to the fact that childhood hunger is such a relatable issue, and your customer base wants to make a difference.”

That’s a core reason Cheerios has been a proud partner over the years. “We want to drive awareness of the critical lifeline school meals like breakfast play for families and encourage others to support No Kid Hungry’s initiatives to provide meals to kids,” Dixon says.

This country is looking for hope, especially right now, and we know that our hope and future lies with kids, so we must take care of them,” – DIANA HOVEY, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF CORPORATE PARTNERSHIPS AT SHARE OUR STRENGTH

A partnership with No Kid Hungry also creates a halo effect for brand partners, as 83% of respondents to a 2020 No Kid Hungry survey say they are more likely to buy a company’s products or services because of the affiliation.

“This country is looking for hope — especially right now — and we know that our hope and future lies with kids, so we must take care of them,” says Hovey. “Connecting a company’s brand with a purpose, particularly a purpose that resonates so deeply like ending childhood hunger in this country, drives such a greater business value than any amount of advertising you can do.”

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