Purpose is defined as the intention behind a feeling or action. Individuals often shape their purpose around personal beliefs, life goals and those pesky to do lists. Nonprofits define their purpose, or mission statements, based on the need or void their programs and services are trying to fill in society. And, companies outline their purpose, or vision, based on economic projections that are engrained in their business strategies.

I recently attended the 15th annual 2017 Engage for Good Conference in Chicago.  The event drew hundreds of executives and nonprofit professionals from across the country to discuss cause marketing trends and best practices. Here are three tips from this year’s event, which was focused on how the purposes of individuals, nonprofits and businesses intersect and work together.

Know Your Audience

Good Scout Group’s Philips McCarty, Rally’s Latia Curry and an expert panel discussed how to create social impact that resonates in a divided country.

According to the panel, sixty percent of U.S. consumers live in the Heartland states of the Midwest. However, only five percent of those individuals feel that brands understand them. Millennial women living in the Heartland may desire and work for the same equality, freedom and representation that many twenty something females were seen rallying for during this winter’s Women’s Marches, but their lives are different.  A 25 year old living in New York City who just finished graduate school and is working to pursue a high-powered corporate career may want the same things as a 25 year old living in the Heartland who is working full-time but is also focused on raising a family. However their daily priorities and to do lists may differ. Therefore, the products they buy or the causes they support will differ.

The lessons learned: It is ineffective for companies to employ a “one size fits all” marketing approach. It is important for businesses and nonprofit organizations to think from a social leadership standpoint and be conscious of what is important to your target audiences, especially when target audiences live in different geographic regions that shape their attitudes and behaviors and how messages are received.

Get Back to Business

Andy Last, author of “Business on a Mission: How to Build a Sustainable Brand,” spoke about creating social context for corporate social missions.

Last shared Lifebuoy’s #HelpAChildReach5 hand-washing campaign as a key example. According to Lifebuoy, 2 million children under the age of 5 die of infections, like diarrhea and pneumonia, which are preventable. Thanks to the initiative, the company has been able to say in their corporate messaging that they are helping to prevent deaths in third world countries by teaching children the simple act of washing their hands with soap. More soap sales generates more revenue, which helps to save more lives – a win-win. Brilliant!

The lessons learned: Businesses should integrate financial and social objectives into their corporate social strategy in order to generate profitable growth while doing social good. Businesses should do their homework and find an issue within their field that connects to society. And, it’s okay to say you’re making money from social missions. Strong social missions equate to strong businesses.

It Takes a Village

Finish Line’s Marty Posch and For Momentum’s Rich Maiore shared what their joint experience was like activating a national campaign in partnership with the Special Olympics on a local level.

The Finish Line campaign, which raised money and awareness for the Special Olympics through sales, launched around the holiday season.  Messaging and marketing collateral included photos and speaking messages from Special Olympics athletes with a call to action to raise awareness and money for the cause by buying Finish Line products. An email from the CEO was sent to 650 stores across 47 states. Special Olympic athletes participated in motivating kick-off calls with all 42 district managers. Every store manager got sales incentives, playbooks with marketing and sales instructions and campaign posters to be hung in break rooms. Special Olympic athletes made surprise visits to stores in their communities and produced energizing videos which were shared with employees. And, Finish Line created an employee awards program, distributed grants to stores to award locally, hosted pop up events in key markets, and held an internal contest in which the sales winner would earn a free trip to the Special Olympic games in Australia.

The lessons learned: No matter how big or small you are, it takes a grassroots multi-tiered approach from the top down and bottom up to launch a successful corporate philanthropy campaign. And, help your team help you. Provide employees with toolkits and incentives so that they feel prepared and motivated to further a national campaign on a local level, which ultimately will make your national campaign more successful.