Doing Well by Doing Good

Did you know that being socially responsible not only helps your community, but also helps your business? In a phenomenon called the “benevolent halo effect,” when companies are involved in socially responsible causes, consumers perceive their products as being better quality, a study in the Journal of Consumer Research reports.

For example, when consumers were told a winery made donations to the American Heart Association, they rated the company’s wine as better tasting. They also believed that a variety of products, ranging from tooth whiteners to running shoes, performed better when they were told that the companies donated to charity.

Although this study focused on donations to charity, the success of companies such as Tom’s Shoes in recent years has shown that going beyond just writing a check to being actively involved in a cause is an even better way to consumers’ hearts. If you’d like to enjoy the benevolent halo effect for your business, here are some tips:

  • Choose an activity that’s not only close to your heart, but also relevant to your business. For example, if you own a women’s boutique and you care about helping the homeless, consider donating clothing to a group that helps homeless women find jobs, or visiting the organization and giving them fashion makeovers.
  • Enlist your whole team in the project. Let your employees suggest ideas for a charity and activity, then vote on the winner so they’ll be as enthused about giving back to that cause as you are.
  • Get your customers on board. Enlisting customers in the cause gets them engaged with your business and builds a strong relationship. For example, the boutique could hold a clothing drive to collect used clothes for homeless women, or let customers know that your team will volunteer at the homeless shelter a certain time every week and they’re welcome to help, too.

One thing not to do: Don’t advertise your socially responsible activity. The study found that the benevolent halo effect diminished when companies blatantly advertised their good works. Instead, use social media and public relations outreach to promote your cause in a more subtle fashion. That way, you won’t turn customers off, but will inspire them to join in with you in giving back to the community.  

Speaking of giving back, the mentors at SCORE are ready to give back to you by helping you with all elements of your business. Visit to get matched with a mentor today. 

Rieva Lesonsky
<p> Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She was formerly Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship. <br /> <a href="" target="_blank" title="GrowBizMedia"></a> | <a href="" target="_blank" title="Rieva on Twitter">@rieva</a> | <a href="" title="blogs by Rieva">More from Rieva</a></p>


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