Why Your For-Profit Should Think Like a Non-Profit

They may not teach classes about it at business school, but companies have a lot to gain by thinking more like a non-profit.

Above image by Wander, from the film “Journey of the Roses.”

Nowadays, more consumers than ever support companies dedicated to social and environmental change, and investors, the public, and the media are holding companies to higher standards. In a recent Nielsen study titled “The Sustainability Imperative,” global consumers indicated they are willing to pay more for sustainable consumer brands. In 2015, 66% of respondents said they were willing to pay more for products and services that come from companies who are committed to positive social and environmental impact, up from 55% in 2014 and 50% in 2013.

In order for companies to take advantage of the earned goodwill a perceived positive social and environmental impact provides, they need to work to convince consumers that their message is authentic. Think back to the now-infamous Kendall Jenner-Pepsi commercial. Though Pepsi was clearly going after the socially conscious consumer, their effort rang false to many and the campaign has become a black eye for Pepsi for their disingenuity.

By contrast, Kroger made positive waves by announcing their 2020 sustainability goals in a campaign called “Improving Today to Protect Tomorrow” with a whole website and custom graphics. On the front page, check out the “Journey of the Roses,” the film Wander made to further promote Kroger’s sustainability efforts. Since last year, when Kroger made their announcement of the sustainability goals, profits at Kroger have jumped 18% and market share has increased, according to the Fortune 500 website. This was likely due in part to a contingent of customers who want to support companies working sustainably. Making sure your brand’s message is clear and sincere is key for those who want to ensure their charitable or sustainable actions appear genuine to consumers.

Another great part of having non-profit initiatives in for-profit settings is that these initiatives are a great way to generate good press toward your company. If your company is already generating some buzz, doing charitable work will only boost your profile in the eyes of the press and in the public. Take CBS This Morning’s recent profile on the glasses manufacturer Warby Parker — nearly half of the write-up is devoted to Warby Parker’s philanthropic works. In addition, partly because of the philanthropic efforts, company’s two founders sat down with Charlie Rose and Gayle on network TV with the headline “Reframing Eyewear: Warby Parker Founders on Charity and Cutting Costs.”

If your company’s charitable works are executed correctly and genuinely, your company could be getting great publicity, all while spreading your company’s message.

In addition, embracing sustainability initiatives will serve as a beacon to potential hires who are looking to contribute good, quality work for the betterment of the world, not only for his or her individual needs. Beacons like these attract good hearted people to your company, which will only serve to better company culture and make for a happier workplace.

The last and most obvious reason for a for-profit company to think like a non-profit is that doing good feels good. A recent study from Harvard Business School found that, “Happier people give more and giving makes people happier, such that happiness and giving may operate in a positive feedback loop.” In the context of your business, working on non-profit initiatives will boost workplace morale and increase employee happiness and productivity.

Philanthropic initiatives at for-profits give companies price flexibility, strengthen brand image, and provide great marketing, all while fostering a better, happier company culture in the process. Consumers are increasingly siding with firms that use their voice to do good, so the sooner your company embraces its voice for philanthropy, the more genuine and successful your brand’s message will be. We at Wander have been privileged to showcase the great environmental and social work that companies have done, and we’d love to do the same for you.



For inquiries, please contact:
William Trusting
ph: 323.230.7361
e-mail: [email protected]