Social Giving and Online Gifting Trends for Your Business to Buy Into

Social Giving and Online Gifting Trends for Your Business to Buy Into

Philippa Dods
8 October 2019


Over 150 years after his birth, Mahatma Gandhi remains an iconic figure many admired the world over, especially in the cut-throat world of business, where social giving inspired by his ethos of equality and uplifting entrepreneurial independence is on the rise.

It’s a growing trend among the philanthropic set, as it places the flavour of the month, Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR, front and centre of your marketing strategy. Here’s how you can get involved and do good for the rest of the world through online gifting, even if you’re not holding the purse strings in the C-suite.

Think of Bapu, the Father of the Nation and you’ll likely recite one of his more inspirational business sayings – Entrepreneur credits him as the ‘source of inspiration’ to the ultimate global change-maker, Nelson Mandela.

With such world-improving quotes as: “You must be the change you want to see in the world,” rolling off the tongue of almost everyone in these socially aware times, it’s easy to see why.

But actions speak louder than words, and despite the best intentions we often don’t know just where to start, so end up endlessly postponing our new business mantra of ‘doing good business by doing good. That’s why in order to accurately follow in Gandhi’s footsteps, you first need to clarify your own philanthropic purpose and the CSR strategy your business lives by.

Points to Consider in Defining Your Philanthropic Purpose

It may seem an unnecessary step, but The Philanthropy Roundtable says clarifying your philanthropic purpose is actually a vitally important step in safeguarding donor intent, as you finetune your altruistic desire to improve human welfare.

After all, Investopedia shares that philanthropy dates back to Greek philosopher Plato in 347 B.C, where Plato’s will instructed his nephew to use the proceeds of the family farm to fund the academy he had Plato founded.

To follow suit, Bridgespan says to be clear on not just your values and beliefs but also the factors affecting the social problem you’re aiming to solve.  You’ll need to invest not just money but also time and other resources in the cause at hand, so take time to clarify the steps needed along the way.

You’ll also need to hone in on what you’ll define as success in this regard – you’re not merely presenting a cheque to a charity as a photo opportunity, as that quickly comes off as a positive press-seeking mission. Besides that, a one-off anonymous donation for X amount hardly ever does the trick.

But note that hat doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make your intentions to do good business by doing good, public. To do so, follow the example of Wipro chairman Azim Premji. He famously signed The Giving Pledge in 2013, a campaign started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, in which he promised to donate at least half of his wealth.

YourStory confirms that Premji has already donated $21 billion to his education-focused non-profit Azim Premji Foundation.

Setting up a Philanthropic Business Arm as Part of Your CSR Strategy

Philanthropic purpose clarified, you’re ready to further benefit society and truly get involved in the social giving movement, YourStory says to follow the example of India’s top 10 billionaires who donate money for social good. In contributing their money and expertise to fields like education, healthcare and job creation they’ve gone the Plato route in ensuring their own wealth extends beyond their family bloodline.

These include the likes of magazine’s riches Asian for 2018 Mukesh Ambani, MD of Reliance Industries, and wife Nita head up the Reliance Foundation, which has a strong focus on rural development as well as urban renewal, art and culture.

Or take Piramal Enterprises chair Ajay Piramal, who makes giving a family affair along with his wife and children involved in ’s philanthropic arm the Piramal Foundation, which covers project in the realm of healthcare, education, livelihood creation, and youth empowerment.

If your pockets aren’t quite as deep as that, don’t despair – you can start on a much smaller scale, in changing the way you do your online shopping. There’s a reason Alibaba is top of mind when it comes to e-commerce platforms, which is taking things a step further in firmly tying a big bow around the concept of philanthropy in online gifting…

The philanthropy of Green Online Gifting and Social Giving

In line with founder Jack Ma’s Gandhi-esque belief that ‘to earn respect we have to do good for the world,’Entrepreneur explains that Alibaba’s UCWeb, on behalf of its philanthropic arm, Alibaba Foundation, recently hosted its second philanthropy forum in India. The forum’s aim is to support education in creating a responsible content ecosystem that helps narrow the digital divide and create jobs. 

Business Today adds that Alibaba’s UCWeb content platform model, set to include short videos and movie ticket sales, is intended to promote and support other online shopping and e-commerce firms in India instead of competing with them. UCWeb is said to have had 1.1 billion user downloads worldwide, of which half of its global installs are from India, where it has 130 million monthly active users.

That’s why YourStory confirms that the Indian e-commerce market is expected to grow to $200 billion by 2026. And while the global gifting market is estimated to be $475 billion, Qwikcilver’s research shows that India is expected to emerge as one of the most influential contributors in the next five years.

Yahoo Finance further colours in the story in sharing that Qwikcilver, as the single largest end-to-end service provider in the pre-paid, gift card space in India, attributes much of the recent increase in mobile and Internet-based commerce to millennials. But drilling down further, beyond the mobile generation, it seems it is customer appreciation gifts more than last-minute anniversary or birthday presents being purchased, as Seeker’s Time adds that the corporate gift market has 80% of the current share, with the personal gift market at just 20%.

YourStory adds that emerging corporate gifting market is an extremely loyal one, with up to 60% repurchase rate after the first successful online transaction.

In addition, the tailor-made options go beyond having your client’s name emblazoned on a coffee mug – in today’s environmentally aware age, the ‘green gifting’ trend of sending office plants – the type that need watering and TLC, not the pretty bouquet of flowers that will be in the compost heap next week –is now seen as more meaningful than that easily consumable box of chocolates.

Facebook Philanthropy: Enter the Social Self

These are all steps in the right direction of reaching the Gandhian goal of better social equality and inclusivity – making it an active decision to take part in social giving moves the needle on becoming a more giving global society, as technological development further blurs geographical boundaries and brings the physical world online.

“Promoting social welfare, supporting causes and communities that we believe in, and feeling confident about where the money goes are all becoming easier, thanks to accessible innovations that empower us to do so.”- GivingCompass

Inc adds that it’s as easy as logging onto your social media accounts for the day, as Facebook’s ‘birthday wishes’ options now include invitations to donate to a charitable cause on their behalf. That gels perfectly with the millennial mindset, as The Balance credits the ‘giving generation’ with demanding a website’s information be as transparent and up-to-date as possible before they will sign up to do their giving online.

Once convinced, they’re in for the win and will gladly stand for the cause and will, in turn, try to convince their peers to do so in sharing on social media that they’ve donated to a cause they care about. This is less a vanity project than it is the most visible aspect of the ‘social self’ millennials painstakingly curate with their every online post and interaction.

If Facebook sounds like a good starting point for your philanthropic activity, you’re in luck as Facebook itself explains under the Charitable Giving tab of its Social Good page that there’s a Fundraiser API, through which you can connect off-Facebook fundraisers to Facebook, to help participants meet their fundraising goal.

For example, AdWeek reports that a highlight of one of Facebook’s most recent Social Good Forums included an overview of the blood donation tools Facebook debuted in India a few years ago, where more than 4 million donors signed up. The tool works both ways, like hospitals, blood banks, and non-profits can create voluntary blood donation events on Facebook, and nearby donors are in turn notified of the opportunities to donate blood.

That’s a true case of using social media for the benefit of society. So join the trend of doing good for good business – do your research, give of your time, give of your money, and give back however you can.