All franchise brands have a mission, goal or service in mind that defines their company. Many of these ideas pertain to an underlying common need. Some even relate to customers and employees on a personal level, giving that extra emotional attachment and a higher sense of brand loyalty.
Certain nonprofits promote the same causes and values that franchise brands support. By partnering up, the two organizations can benefit each other and ultimately give back to a struggling community.
How to (and How not to) Start a Collaboration with Nonprofits
Fishman PR’s Chief Operating Officer Debra Vilchis is a passionate nonprofit supporter. As a devoted first grade religion teacher, Debra believes that franchise brands should partner with nonprofits because of their ability to give back to both local communities and national charitable organizations. And, simply enough, brands should make this part of their mission because of the positive impact it has on society at large. Using your profitable business to support the community helps build customer and employee engagement and inspires them to give back to others as well.
Debra also feels that companies that partner with a nonprofit simply to boost their image do not look well amongst the community and certainly will not benefit their franchise or the charity.
“The reason to support a charitable cause is because it’s the right thing to do, not to get PR,” says Debra. “If your efforts get brand exposure in a positive way, then great. But that is just a side effect.”
A Partnership Gone Wrong
Partnering with a nonprofit for all the wrong reasons will not result in success. The Harvard Business Review brought to light a real life example of how it can go terribly wrong. The director of a children’s welfare foundation explained to a women’s clothing manufacturer that she was looking to partner with a big business to help spread awareness for child labor abuse. The retailer was looking for ways to exemplify that the business promotes the safety and health of youth. The two joined together to create a campaign that highlighted violations of child labor laws and advocated for more regulation of the practice overseas.
Shortly after the collaboration, it came to light that the manufacturer employed children as young as 10 years old to produce the clothing. As you can imagine, the fallout is negative for both the manufacturer and the nonprofit. Human rights organizations claimed the business used the charity as a front to mask its labor violations. Worse, the nonprofit organization likely faced an uphill battle to recapture its legitimacy in the eyes of members and donors.
Some franchises will partner with a nonprofit because it seems “popular” to the media, but Deb suggests supporting a cause that the business can personally relate to. For example, a franchise that sells children’s clothing whose founder travels to Africa each year to help build schools may support an organization that benefits underprivileged kids. That way the company can explore their brand value and image in more depth and develop a deeper passion for their business.
“I tell my first grade students at religious school that they should do the right thing simply because it’s the right thing to do, not to get credit or avoid looking bad,” Deb explains. “I think franchise brands should think the same way.”
Supporting charitable causes and helping those in need is an amazing thing that so many franchises have the ability to do. Partnering with a charity with a cause that either personally relates to your franchise or that you feel passionate about helps brands differentiate themselves from other companies that focus solely on profits. In the long run, using your brand to support those who are less unfortunate will improve of other people’s lives and build a stronger community.