True connection builds trust. That’s a given. How you translate this truth to consumer relationships, however, is one of the most challenging questions for brands to answer.
With endless options for entertainment, news, and hobbies right at our fingertips, it can be hard to find the right way to make a genuine connection with more than one, niche audience. Instead of trying to dig deeper, think global.
According to a recent survey of 2,000 Americans, 64% report that they care about saving the environment as much as their personal wealth. And, 66% of respondents said they would try anything to save the planet. This goes beyond the U.S. Globally, almost 70% of young people say they are afraid of climate change. Companies big and small are using this as collective interest as an opportunity to connect with consumers and employees alike.
Choosing the perfect way to contribute to a greener future can sound intimidating. But, environmentally-focused Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives are relatively simple to start. With the right mix of authenticity, planning, and messaging, your organization can do good while building consumer trust.
Think like an acorn
Don’t know where to start? Remember: every mighty oak starts off as a single, small acorn.
Think about what little steps you can take to improve the planet. If your team has a coffee machine in the breakroom, what do you do with the grounds? Used coffee beans are considered black gold in the composting industry. Sign up with a local group to put that waste to good use. In most cases, all you need to do is set up a bin they come to collect weekly. You can even expand your compost collection to include nearby neighbors and other community organizations. Every month, you can measure how much your team composts and spread the message about simple steps everyone can do to make a difference.
Only 1 in 10,000 acorns become a fully developed oak tree. Keep that in mind. It’s entirely possible that an initiative flourishing at one place might not be logistically possible for your organization. And that’s okay. Do your research and get realistic. Ask your employees what would get them more excited about going green. Contests for the best plant-based burger recipe, bike-to-work challenges, and recycling bin audits are all on the table. No effort is too small.
Act like a daffodil
Daffodils are usually the first signs of spring. They can also self-pollinate for hundreds of years. How can you apply this to your environmental work? It’s possible to act first while keeping an eye on the future.
Just because few—if any—of your local competitors have year-round green initiatives doesn’t mean you’re taking a risk. Environmentally focused work is a great way to build trust with one of today’s most elusive demographics: Gen Z. Yes, we mentioned their generation is anxious about climate change. But, they are also the most likely to choose brands that align with their personal beliefs. Over 75% of Gen Z consumers prefer to buy sustainable goods over big, go-to brands. That’s great news for grassroots organizations like credit unions.
What can you do for the environment that can build upon itself, or self-pollinate? Clothing scrap drives can transform into art exhibitions. Data on choosing paperless banking statements can turn into a white paper about sustainability. Litter pickup days can lead to the creation of a new public park. The opportunities are endless.
Plan like a squirrel
Why do squirrels bury so many acorns? Sure, they need to prepare for the winter. But researchers think it’s also because they simply forget where some are stowed away. The lesson: leave room for error and know when to pivot.
Starting small isn’t always going to be easy. If your team isn’t seeing a lot of participation with a particular initiative, you might need to make some tweaks. Is this a project that speaks to your organization’s core values? How are you getting the word out there? If you have an authentic connection to the project, it will be easier to get creative. For example, if you’re opening a new composting site for your neighborhood, think beyond announcing it in newsletters and on your social handles. You’d be surprised how many locally minded subreddits and Facebook groups are thriving digital ecosystems. Do a little research and don’t be afraid to join conversations in unexpected places.
With the right partner, you can also broaden your reach. Public parks are almost always happy to accept volunteers. Larger organizations, like One Tree Planted and The Nature Conservancy, welcome donations and annual partnerships.
Whatever you do for sustainability, remember that consistency and creativity are not mutually exclusive. The more authentic and unique the initiative, the easier it is to keep it going. There are endless, exciting ways to engage with audiences while leaving the earth a little greener every day.