By Franz W. Paasche
Today, even the smallest businesses can capitalize on the power of digital platforms to better understand their customers’ needs and behaviors, engage with them more effectively, and provide customized offerings. But many of today’s consumers want more. A 2015 Nielsen Global Sustainability Report found that 43% of consumers say that a company’s commitment to social value “very heavily” or “heavily” influenced their purchase decisions. And according to a Cone Communications/Ebiquity survey from the same year, 90% of global consumers would switch brands to one that is associated with a good cause, provided price and quality are equal.
Social purpose is continuing to evolve from a philanthropic niche to a key part of core business strategy, and this shift presents unique opportunities for technology companies, in particular. The next wave of technology innovation will require a paradigm shift — one that builds social purpose into the activities of our everyday lives.
Technology innovators have the opportunity to move beyond transactional exchanges with customers to engage people as partners with a shared sense of purpose and values. Consider Airbnb, the online marketplace for people to list, discover and book lodging. The company was built on the belief that people can trust each other enough to stay in each other’s homes. The success of this model has showed us that sharing helps foster community and connection, instead of isolation and separation — and it’s enabling a whole new wave of entrepreneurship and income-earning opportunity all around the world. As Airbnb continues to grow and reach new heights as a business, purpose and sharing continue to inspire and connect its global community.
In the financial services sector, innovative payment technologies, which have fundamentally transformed the way we transact, are bringing new speed and convenience to charitable giving — enabling people to give back to their communities as easily as they can tap for an Uber ride. At PayPal, for example, we have designed an efficient system that makes micro-donations an economically viable fundraising stream for millions of charities. Academic and Federal Reserve Bank research has found that the private costs of accepting checks for under $50 can be anywhere from 3% for a $50 transaction to 285% for a $1 transaction, making checks in small amounts prohibitive for charities. Technology that provides accessibility to giving can now be embedded into everyday experiences, like commerce, and this makes it possible for nonprofits to affordably accept donations of any size and for everyone to participate in philanthropy at the levels they can give.
Take Humble Bundle, a leading online retailer of digital games and eBooks. Humble Bundle offers customers the opportunity to support a charitable organization of their choice with every purchase they make. Through an innovative “pay what you want” pricing model, customers can choose not only what they want to pay but also the portion of the purchase price that they want to direct to the nonprofit of their choice. In 2015, more than $10.5 million was raised via Humble Bundle, which benefitted over 7,000 organizations. These values-based customer experiences go beyond promoting the next purchase at checkout by embedding giving opportunities and choices into the commerce flow. They’re building a giving engine that is powering significant social impact while also delighting customers and generating positive business results along the way.
Technology companies have a unique opportunity to apply their perspective, innovations, and expertise to help address the world’s greatest challenges. Those that are able to combine their innovative models and solutions with a clear social purpose will find new ways to bring ideas and products to market that drive deeper connections with their customers, as well as significant social impact and sustainable business results for their companies.
Source: Harvard Business Review