Want to really engage consumers in your cause efforts? Then give them a voice. Target, well-regarded for its philanthropic commitments, relinquished some control this week as it launched “Bullseye Gives,” a campaign allowing consumers to decide how to give away Target’s money. The company will divide a $3 million donation among its 10 charity partners, determined by consumer votes on the Target Facebook page.
Consumer-centric philanthropy campaigns like this are not new, but they are clearly resonating. In the past year, American Express, Western Union* and Trip Advisor have all launched similar consumer-driven online contests, powerful because they offer unique benefits to all parties.
First, online contests’ user-friendly, low- to no-cost tools provide companies a channel to connect with consumers on a more personal level than traditional checkbook philanthropy (in turn, perhaps breeding greater trust, engagement and loyalty). It allows consumers to select a cause of importance to them, which, according to Cone’s research, is the leading factor (84%) they say will influence their support of a company’s social efforts. And, as The New York Times says, such campaigns are “adding yet another weapon to charities’ fund-raising arsenal” while also building awareness. Most importantly, it helps level the playing field for both consumers and nonprofits who all have an equal voice in influencing the outcome. Bullseye.