This Thanksgiving, I reflected on all the things for which I’m thankful, as well as the people: family, friends, and the wonderful automotive professionals I’ve met over the years. This industry is filled with some of the most genuine, caring folks around.

While this time of year is known as the season for giving, so many people are in need year-round, and admirably, the automotive industry understands the importance of charitable giving and does great things every season. 

When a company does good, good things happen; that’s the premise of cause marketing. It allows automotive businesses to do the right thing for society, while also increasing profit. How?

Global surveys from the past two decades indicate that, given similar price and quality, the majority of consumers are likely to switch to a brand that stands behind philanthropic efforts. People want to make a difference, and when your organization makes a positive impact in the world, customers get to be part of the change they want to see. 

Consumers want to know what you stand for, and your concern for others will build trust naturally. Cause marketing provides an opportunity for your automotive organization to make the world a better place, while also advancing genuine business goals.

Let’s look at some ways the industry is making a difference in various areas of society and how you can choose the right recipient of your organization’s altruism!  

Support the Search for a Cure

Cancer. It’s an awful word that elicits a cringe from most of mankind, but when companies champion efforts to prevent, detect and treat this dreadful disease – well, that leaves a pretty favorable impression on consumers. Automotive professionals around the country have shown their dedication to finding a cure. 

Brakes for Breasts, founded by Laura Frank and Leigh Anne Best, has raised over $1 million for the Cleveland Clinic Breast Cancer Research Fund in the past decade. Each October, participating shops receive free brake pads and shoes, donated from participating vendors, and only charge customers for labor and the remaining parts; they then donate 10% of the sale to the fund.

In October 2020, Valvoline Instant Oil raised over $54,300 with the company’s “Don’t Put It Off!” campaign, which encouraged people to get their recommended screenings. Over the past four years, Valvoline has contributed over $180,000 to the American Cancer Society. 

Since Hyundai’s Hope on Wheels was founded in 1998, Hyundai and its dealers have raised awareness for pediatric cancers and donated over $172,000 to aid groundwork aimed at eliminating the ailment, funding large grants for oncology doctors and premiere laboratories which allows them to continue their life-saving research.   

Feed the Hungry

If a friend asked for a meal, you’d happily oblige, yet there are so many in this country who contend with food insecurity. It’s inspiring that so many automotive professionals donate to and volunteer at neighborhood soup kitchens. 

Principle Auto Group in San Antonio, Texas serves the community in numerous ways, including by supporting Feeding America, a national network of food pantries, through donations and volunteer work. The Ford Fund also strives to address hunger in communities by donating to municipal food banks and by maintaining a fleet of Ford Mobile Food Pantries that deliver needed sustenance to the hungry. 

Last month, in conjunction with its ROAD Forward initiative, the Enterprise Holdings Foundation pledged $65 million to provide five years of funding for Enterprise Fill Your Tank, which works to tackle food insecurity in local communities.   

It’s All About the Kids

They say children are our future, so what better way to invest in the future and show your forward-thinking prowess than by sponsoring charities focused on young people? For example, Ferrari supports Save the Children, an organization dedicated to ensuring that the next generation grows up healthy, educated and safe. 

But there are more fun ways to help the kids! AASP-MO just kicked off its 2020 Toys for Tots drive; in 2019, the association collected over 3500 toys for local children. ASA Northwest’s goal for its 21st annual Kids First fundraiser is to raise enough to buy an outfit and toy for 40 underprivileged youth in their community.

Don’t forget – today’s young person will grow up to become an adult seeking a career. One of the most active enterprises ensuring students are provided with the resources for a successful career is the Collision Repair Education Foundation, which awards scholarships and grants to students and schools each year, through monetary and in-kind donations from industry benefactors. 

And let’s not forget the four-legged offspring, who are an important part of many families! Principle Auto Group contributes to San Antonio Pets Alive, a no-kill animal shelter, by hosting pet adoption and donation events at their dealerships.  

Opportunities for Everyone

This industry’s generosity also extends to support charitable foundations that focus on specific segments of the population who may need a little extra assistance. Many companies show appreciation for our military veterans by sponsoring programs like the Wounded Warrior Project or 3M’s Hire Our Heroes. Valvoline supports the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, and in 2019, partnered with Building Homes for Heroes to build a 2,100 square foot home for a disabled veteran. 

Enterprise Holdings has committed $55 million over the next five years to advancing social and racial equity worldwide through its new ROAD Forward initiative, which seeks to address gaps in early childhood development, youth health and wellness, and career and college preparation.

In collaboration with shops and vendors who donate labor and materials, NABC’s Recycled Rides provides vehicles to families in need, and the Ford Fund’s focus on increasing women’s representation in STEM careers manifests through their support of programs that provide women with access to more educational, business and financial opportunities.   

Choosing Your Cause

With so many wonderful organizations that need your aid, it can be challenging to decide which one is right for your company. What are you and your staff passionate about? Your zeal will be reflected in your efforts, so choose a concern that you can truly get behind.

While money is always helpful, raising awareness for a cause is also valuable, and for some charities, volunteering your time may be the most useful contribution you can make. Collaborate with your non-profit to maximize your involvement.

And don’t forget: cause marketing still allows you to serve a true business need! Snap some photos, post a video, or hang a flyer to promote your endeavors. During these challenging times, it’s more imperative than ever for the industry to partner with local and national non-profits to succor our communities.

All this giving and selflessness demonstrates exactly how strong and noble the automotive industry is, and I want to applaud each of you for caring so much about others. 

As you enjoy your holiday season with your loved ones, reflect on the things that make you feel grateful. How will you show that gratitude to others in the upcoming year?

Did you enjoy this article from Jody Devere? Read other articles from her here.

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