Doing good is good for your business’s bottom line. More customers are letting their money talk – moving to brands and products that make an impact and align with their values. In 2015, digital marketing expert Ronny Sage founded ShoppingGives for retailers to donate to causes that are important to their customers. This builds an authentic connection between retailers and customers. It’s also a clever marketing tactic for businesses, especially those with limited budgets.
ShoppingGives’ is a social impact commerce platform. It offers integrated shopping cart technology and a Shopify app, Change Commerce, for Shopify merchants. At no cost to the customer, they can direct donations from your company to more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations. Merchants using this app can decide how much they’d like to donate. The donation can be a dollar value or percentage that is made per sale, or only for certain products and product ranges. The average donation per transaction in July 2020 was $2.18.
Merchants can even temporarily increase or decrease the amounts and percentages they want to donate during events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This enables merchants to engage customers in their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy with every purchase. It adds value to the customers’ experience and allows retailers to create a greater impact.
Consumers are increasingly pushing brands to be more socially responsible. 78% of Americans expect companies to positively impact society and not just exist for profit, a 2018 study by Cone and Porter Novelli found. 71% of consumers expect companies to connect with them emotionally on issues that matter to them personally, so having a solution that permits the customer to direct the donations is quite important.
Sage points out that aligning brand values with client values builds a sense of personal connection to your company, improves conversion rates, average order values (AOV), and ultimately boosts lifetime value. The platform measures this performance, growth and engagement for the online stores. Ecommerce retailers who use Change Commerce have seen a 19% increase in their conversion rate. Their AOV has increased by 23% and customer lifetime value by 18%.
Sage, who is based in the greater Chicago area, says he wasn’t brought up with philanthropy. He started ShoppingGives after working at digital marketing agencies and brands for 13 years. While in the loyalty and incentive space, he saw first-hand how much money was being spent by businesses trying to attract customers.
“I kept thinking there had to be a better way to spend those dollars more effectively to create loyal relationships with customers. That’s how ShoppingGives was born,” Sage says.
“I believe finding a way to do good as well as prosper is the ultimate goal. I saw the need for action and had a unique set of experiences that positioned me to do both.”
Retailers in the US face a massive amount of regulation around cause marketing. This is one reason top retailers donate to the biggest nonprofits who have proven reputability and high visibility. But that severely limits the pool of nonprofits receiving support. Customers buying from retailers who use ShoppingGives can support any of 1.5million nonprofits.
Sage says that in 2019, 1,954 different nonprofits were selected and supported by customers and stores. A whopping 3,500 have already been supported this year.
Making donations requires an enormous amount of paperwork. ShoppingGives handles the donation management which includes paying the charity or cause, handling the tax requirements, and ensuring all regulations are adhered to.
“Us managing the end-to-end integration, regulation and management process makes this platform accessible to any retailer, of any size, on any platform. It democratizes social impact by giving back to any nonprofit. And it incorporates the customer in the conversation,” says Sage.
Customers are demanding impact. ShoppingGives has seen a 148% increase in retailers over the past year. Most of the growth took place during the first four months of the Covid-19 pandemic, when the number of retailers using the platform doubled. The significant and forced growth in ecommerce, resulting from the pandemic, has pushed retailers to rethink how they communicate with customers, Sage says.
One reason for the platform’s popularity is that it creates a personalized experience. The buyer, as opposed to the retailer, gets to choose which charity is supported because what matters to customers varies from one to the next.
“Enabling you to align your values with that purchase is what makes it authentic. It says you know this brand understands that you as a customer are an individual supporting a specific cause.” Further, the customer isn’t being asked to spend more by rounding up their dollars or adding on their own donations. This instills confidence that they’re supporting a brand that puts money where their mouth is.
Additionally, the platform keeps track of buyer preferences and, while they’re shopping, automatically recommends specific nonprofits that align with those preferences. It also allows retailers to incorporate personalized impact messages into their marketing.
Improving an online stores’ reach by appealing to consumers’ social consciousness is an organic marketing method. This means that instead of continually pushing money into marketing to improve reach, retailers are able to invest more towards causes.
“Taking a growth approach to impact and aligning your bottom line with doing good is driving these commercial options for retailers and customer adoption,” says Sage.
He adds that customers often donate to causes related to current events – such as the Covid-19 crisis and Black Lives Matter movement. Sages says that through ShoppingGives’ network of merchant partners, more than 5,500 nonprofit organizations have benefited. This translates to more than 8,000,000 meals provided to families in need, medicine supplied to 170,000 individuals in crisis, and housing for 2,000 LGBTIQ+ individuals during Covid-19. This puts into perspective how much support some of these nonprofits are receiving from retailers who use the platform.
As the platform grows, ShoppingGives is continuously looking for new and innovative ways its retail partners can give. In August, Ronny and his team partnered with ecommerce marketing platform Yotpo to allow retailers and their customers to donate using loyalty rewards. Last year it formed a partnership with the PayPal Giving Fund to make it easier and safer for nonprofits to claim their funds, and access more donors.
Sage says they push themselves to stay true to ShoppingGives’ values when they deal with the daily challenges that come with fast growth. They focus on creating solutions that anticipate their clients’ needs.
With gifting season around the corner, Sage expects even more sign ups. Change Commerce typically experiences a spike in retailer sign-up during the holiday season, especially on Giving Tuesday. But Sage encourages retailers to make giving ‘evergreen’ by adopting it as an integral part of their brand. The Change Commerce app can be added to your Shopify site with the click of a button plus a few easy steps to activate it.
“It’s never too late to start giving. Whether you’re newly launched or an advanced legacy brand, just start!” says Sage.
ShoppingGives is a partner of ShopCreatify. We recommend it to our merchants who would like to incorporate charitable giving into their checkout process. If you would like to try out ShoppingGives,reach out to us and we can help you get started.