Would you be more likely to buy from an openly altruistic company than from one that isn’t? Is it important to you as a consumer to do business with companies that give back to animal welfare or other charities you care about? If so, you’re not alone. In today’s economy, when faced with a choice between two companies, consumers are more likely to go with the one that supports a charity they also care about. In fact, according to the Do Well Do Good consumer survey, 83 percent of consumers think companies should support nonprofit groups, and more than half would buy a new brand if it supported a cause important to them.
How many of us buy a dog calendar in December knowing a portion of the money goes to our favorite local shelter or animal nonprofit? We buy a new dog toy from the small business that is actively involved in our community. We wait to get our dog washed for that one particular weekend when we know a portion of the proceeds will go to support our local humane society. With the power of social media, people notice which companies are giving back and paying forward their success, and consumers like what they see.
Large or small, private or public, more companies today are community-minded and actively involved in supporting causes that matter to their employees. They see this as a way to show their customers that they are concerned about the well-being of others. For many, it’s about being responsive and doing something, rather than standing by and doing nothing. They work to make an impact, and they are thoughtful about where their energies are spent. It’s also about building relationships and encouraging employee engagement within the community. In many cases, employees take the lead in driving the relationship with local individuals and nonprofits. They come up with ideas that connect the business with its community, whether it’s helping end the homeless animal population or supporting a shelter for domestic abuse victims. And there’s another benefit for socially minded companies: those that actively give back are seeing their business grow. Turns out, responsible corporate citizenship is a win-win for everyone.
With the success of their many Las Vegas restaurants and nightclubs, the Tao Group created Tao Cares and Marquee Cares to lead annual charitable events benefiting causes employees cared most about. Examples of local organizations they support are Shade Tree Shelter and Hopelink’s Back to School Campaign. National charities include the Boys and Girls Club, GLAAD, and the American Red Cross for Hurricane Sandy Relief. From top management to line employees, everyone volunteers their time and helps spread the word about each benefit, in addition to contributing ideas on which causes to support.
Marquee Las Vegas employees recognized that local animal charities and foundations in Southern Nevada were being overlooked. The Director of VIP Services came up with the initial concept for a new fundraiser to support a local pet sanctuary, Noah’s Animal House. In response, Marquee Cares organized a benefit at the Marquee Dayclub called BarQuee. The fundraiser celebrated the fifth anniversary of Noah’s Animal House, and it also raised much-needed funds to assist the pets of the clients of The Shade Tree, the largest Southern Nevada shelter for abused women and children.
This philanthropic approach allows Marquee to share its success with those in need and build its reputation across the country for giving back to worthy causes and charities, which in turn benefits their business. Hosting a popular event like BarQuee must be one of the few times when it’s good that something which happened in Vegas, didn’t stay in Vegas.
Tito’s Handmade Vodka
From the start, Tito has cared more for the quiet commitment to doing what he believed in rather than hype. The simple dedication he has applied to his pioneering micro-distillery has also gone into his company’s pursuit of making a difference when and where they can. Tito’s Handmade Vodka founder and master distiller Bert “Tito” Beveridge is a native Texan committed to offering an understated product without the expensive glitzy packaging. He cares about letting his vodka and his company speak for themselves. It’s paying off because Tito’s is one of fastest growing spirit brands in the country thanks to an army of loyal followers.
Besides offering a fair price to consumers, searching for ways to do good in the community is important to the employees of Tito’s Handmade Vodka. However, if you ask Tito if his company’s involvement in supporting charitable causes has helped business, he’ll tell you any benefit is a coincidence. Employees believe Tito’s Handmade Vodka is simply a vehicle that allows them to foster change. Since the start, Tito has been committed to finding causes everyone is able to support, especially in areas like animal welfare and music. These are core to a brand that readily acknowledges its love of dogs. Tito’s believes in rescue and alleviating the suffering of the homeless animal population. Employees have rescued about 30 animals in the neighborhood of the Austin offices and the distillery. Two dogs live at the distillery full time.
LIFE+DOG: Why are animal rescue causes important to Tito’s?
Tito’s Vodka: It started with Tito’s love for his own dogs and has grown because of the commitment that the employees personally have to their pets and general love for all animals. Companywide, we are dog people and we partner with a lot of groups to promote spay/neuter and adoption.
L+D: Tell us about the rescue dogs at the distillery and a bit about the history of dogs at the distillery.
TV: Tito built the original distillery shack, where he still has his offices. His beloved white shepherd-mix, Joe, who lived to be 16, is buried next to the shack now. Tito’s distillery land is in a more rural area of Austin, and wild packs of dogs are formed with the intermingling of ranch dogs, coyotes and strays. These packs happen upon the distillery and are absorbed by the distillery staff. We get them all medical help, deliver their babies if that is in the cards, and find good homes for them if we can’t keep them ourselves. Currently, at least four of our Austin employees—including Tito—have dogs from the same pack or family. On top of that, we have a dog named Roscoe and Tito’s dog, Pearl Beveridge, living at the distillery. Pearl was the daughter of a dog named Lucky who Tito saved from certain death in south Texas on a trip. Dogs are a big part of our culture and there is usually at least one at the office and at least two at the distillery every day. Taking care of them all and loving them is a group effort.
Pet Food Express
As Pet Food Express expands across northern California, they try to be a welcome asset to each of the local communities they serve. This independent pet food and supply retailer’s charitable campaigns and community outreach are good for business. They currently have 44 locations and numerous industry awards for customer service and being one of the best places to work. Over 20 years ago, they began working with needy Bay Area rescue groups and shelters. Compared to Whole Foods and Nordstrom for their generous return policy, Pet Food Express identified early on that they could donate much of the returned bags of food to local nonprofits. One reason they can confidently donate returned pet food is their strict pet food standards. In order to offer greater assurances of safety and consistency in the food they sell, Pet Food Express excludes from their shelves what they feel are suspect ingredients found in dog and cat food and treats. Since no lead standards exist for pet products, they apply the current child safety standards set by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, testing all pet toys for lead before they reach store shelves. Building trust with the community is a core value for the company and its employees.
The Community Outreach Department manages the donation program. Besides helping many rescues and other groups each month, they provide the food for all the animals at the San Francisco Animal Care and Control all year. The company stepped up to help the county-run shelter when government cutbacks threatened the 11,000 animals handled annually. Good nutrition, toys and treats, and other supplies are critical for the survival of the animal rescue programs. In addition to the owners being dog lovers, more than 70 percent of employees have either adopted or rescued a pet, or volunteered for a shelter. They are vital to the success of the donation programs. Employees created an annual fundraiser, “Cover Your K-9,” which raises money for bulletproof vests and other safety equipment for law enforcement canine teams in northern California. More than $350,000 has been raised so far. In addition, the creative “My Mutt” program allows anyone who donates $250 to a nonprofit rescue or shelter to make their pet a star. This program has raised over $1 million which has gone directly to Bay Area nonprofit rescues and shelters. Many of the rescue and shelter volunteers and staff become Pet Food Express customers in part because they know of the community outreach. You could say the owners’ motto, “Doing well by doing good,” is paying off.
Monkeez Makes a Difference
Supported by parent company MVP Group International, Inc., Monkeez Makes a Difference is a new charitable program aimed at children. Each specially marked plush toy comes with a unique online game activation code on the tag. Using the code with an adult, the child enters a fun, educational world. Launched this summer, the unique interactive experience teaches children the importance of thinking of others before themselves through kid-friendly tools, games, and real-life Do Good challenges that they can do at home and in their communities.
Children can also select from one of three charities, and Monkeez Makes a Difference will donate 10 percent of the wholesale product cost to the charity on the child’s behalf. In the few months since its start, the popular charitable program has already given $15,000 to each of its charity partners: Best Friends Animal Society, Samaritan’s Purse, and Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.
Monkeez Makes a Difference wanted to partner with an animal welfare organization because animals need an advocate, children love animals, and they can easily relate to their needs. Best Friends Animal Society seemed the obvious choice. The largest no-kill animal sanctuary in the country, it houses more than 1,700 animals. Monkeez and Friends even has a product line developed specifically for Best Friends Animal Society.
Samaritan’s Purse is an international charity that works in over 100 countries providing relief, community development, and disaster response. Their largest program, Operation Christmas Child, gives 8 million shoebox gifts a year to children around the world.
From a child’s perspective, Alexandra Scott is a glowing example of the Monkeez Makes a Difference message. Alex was a little girl diagnosed with cancer who decided to sell lemonade, not for herself, but to raise money for other children who had cancer. Alex lost her battle when she was only 8 years old; however, her family carried on the organization’s mission in her absence. To date, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation has raised more than $50 million for childhood cancer research.
Pet Paradise Resort and Day Spa
For 10 years, Pet Paradise Resort and Day Spa has cared about providing a safe place for the many family pets needing temporary boarding services. Based in Jacksonville, Florida, the company is passionate about ensuring your furry family member has a safe and enjoyable time. In all the communities they serve, each location gives back in different ways. Each resort collaborates as a team to decide which organization they will give back to. Empowering employees to be directly involved in their local community is a core value of the company. For example, in Sanford, employees realized there was a need for the domestic abuse program because so many women were unable to leave their situations because they were worried about the well-being of their four-legged family member. Studies show that 50 percent of domestic violence victims delay leaving because they’re afraid of what will happen to their companion animal left behind. In 2010, Pet Paradise teamed up with SafeHouse of Seminole County to provide free temporary boarding services to family pets affected by domestic violence situations. This partnership provides a safe haven not only for them, but for their beloved animals as well.
The company’s goal is to identify specific needs in the community, and allow each resort to decide whether to donate boarding services, to collect pet food, or even to give back monetarily. For the Wacky Wednesday charitable program, employees came up with a great idea to raise additional funds. Each resort decided to have a different theme each Wednesday and take pictures of the dogs and cats who participated, and owners were given the opportunity to buy the photos. This money, with additional dollars from each bath, allowed the resorts to almost double their charitable donations. To date, Wacky Wednesday has donated almost $40,000 to 16 charities. Individual resorts also decide which organizations to partner with for the Pet Food Drive promotion. For example, donations of almost 36,000 pounds of pet food have been made to the Jacksonville Humane Society and Second Harvest Pet Food Bank. Pet Paradise’s mission is to provide peace of mind to its customers. Their charitable involvement extends this to include those most needy in their local communities.
This article was written by LIFE+DOG editor Sharon Castellanos.