Better Not Shirk on Social Responsibility

With the financial markets in tatters, will consumers cut more slack to companies that aren’t engaged in social do-gooding? Research by Cone LLC gives reason to think otherwise. Based on polling fielded in August, a new report says 52 percent of respondents “feel companies should maintain their level of financial support of causes and nonprofit organizations” even amid the economy’s struggles. Moreover, another 26 percent believe companies should actually increase their philanthropic efforts in hard times.

Elsewhere in the survey, 85 percent of respondents said they “have a more positive image of a product or company when it supports a cause they care about.” Seventy-nine percent said they’d be “likely to switch from one brand to another, when price and quality are about equal, if the other brand is associated with a good cause.” Thirty-eight percent claimed to have bought a product within the past six months that was related to a cause.

The polling also sought to find out which causes people are most eager to see companies support. Topping the list were “education” and “economic development” (such as “job creation, income generation, wealth accumulation”), each cited by 80 percent of respondents. Right behind were “health and disease” (79 percent) and “access to clean water” (79 percent apiece), followed closely by “environment,” “disaster relief” and “hunger” (77 percent apiece).