“Our team has been busy this festive season giving back to the community and spreading Christmas joy through inspiring acts of generosity”.
Have you noticed these initiatives lately? The holiday season is the perfect opportunity for companies to give back to the community. Some focus on donating to charities, visiting the elderly in nursing homes, or rewarding their employees with presents to say thank you. Different campaigns emphasizing generosity during the festive season are apparent.
But what happens in January?
Once we enter the new year, you won’t notice social good initiatives as often as during the festive period, right? Also, when you think about it – are you aware of the outcome of the ones that took place in December?
I’ve always been a supporter of social initiatives. Whether it’s bringing the spotlight to the seafarers’ mental health during covid while still working at my former employer or challenging my existing clients to see beyond their commercial activities while running a for-profit business.
So, I wanted to understand better the relationship between brands and social good during holidays. Is it okay for brands to only show off their giving spirit during Christmas? And what do you have to do to make a positive impact as a brand?
A few days before 2022, we spoke with Christos Pishias about a peak in the organizations’ charity calendar during the festive season and why brands should genuinely have social good at the core of what they do while getting into 2022.
Christos has dedicated the past 20 years to helping social good organizations do better. He is the founder and CEO of ROI(ή) Operations – a Consultancy for Social Good and works primarily with health, education, charity, and local government teams.
I hope that a 16 min interview with Christos Pishias will serve as a resource to leaders wishing to accomplish their business goals while also advancing society’s goals.
What I've learned through this conversation
To stay attractive in the coming years, brands must keep up with the pace of change.
Ask yourself: “What does success mean for you?”. If it’s about purely maximizing profits, you might be looking in the wrong direction. Social entrepreneurs who are driven by missions bigger than themselves are on the rise, getting attention from consumers more than ever before.
”Consumer decisions often are driven a lot more by social good considerations. This is why you see big brands taking a much more "green approach" in what they do because they know it will inflect their consumers.Christos PishiasCEO & Founder, ROI(ή) Operations
“From a moment when you are aware of a problem, it’s a human instinct to do something about it,” says Christos. He explains that today more and more consumers make purchasing decisions they feel less guilty about or genuinely intend to help solve a problem.
Before initiating any social activity, brands must have a clear strategy to help them achieve their desired impact.
I could often relate to what Christos said during the interview regarding being strategic in your actions. When working with brands, we always highlight the importance of thinking through carefully before doing something. For example, when defining a brand promise, it’s essential to sustain it with relevant actions rather than do something only out of marketing.
Christos says that when it comes to social good, “Organizations need to approach the time or the money that they put into social good organizations using a business case, a justification process. It’s easy to say that I will do something specific on a specific day to benefit my organization in terms of Corporate Social Responsibility”.
During the interview, Christos often highlights that organizations interested in making a real difference should invest enough time in understanding the problems they want to solve. And the recommended way to do so is through building partnerships with organizations and people they want to help.
Sometimes, a one-off intervention can do more damage than good.
This point could go together with point no 2; however, I find this statement very important. It all comes to your commitment, empathy, and genuine interest in helping others. Sadly, I can still notice companies promoting their social side while putting themselves first. This might help you increase your brand exposure for a short period of time, but what value will it create in the long-run?
”If you are doing something on a specific day for a specific organization, you definitely have to ensure that what you intend to do helps the organization instead of only generating positive press lines. And if you do that, your time, money, and efforts will likely make a bit of a difference.Christos PishiasCEO & Founder, ROI(ή) Operations
Some great examples from the interview: Instead of donating to a charity only during Christmas – share how you’ve helped it throughout the whole year. Instead of visiting lonely people to spark some festive mood, plan to engage with them in the months to come.
Instead of asking yourself whether you should care about advancing society's goals, ask - how to do so most effectively.
According to Harvard Business Review, for businesses to succeed in today’s hyper-connected world, business leaders must be willing to embrace collaboration as a guiding principle, more so than the competition. In their research at Columbia University, they have identified that:
- CEOs can benefit their businesses by partnering across sectors with public officials, nonprofit managers, and community members.
- When such partnerships are done well, they lead to more equitable and inclusive solutions where leaders can consider and calculate the impact of their decisions on society over the long run.