It's that time of year again: teachers are prepping their classrooms and parents are frantically searching and shopping for the essentials needed to send their kiddos back to school this fall. It is expected that the average household will spend approximately $696 on back-to-school shopping and approximately $976 on back-to-college shopping (National Retail Federation).
With all the hustle and bustle surrounding back-to-school shopping, it's important to remember all the ways that we can give back. While some students and children might be well equipped to head back to school this fall with brand new backpacks, notebooks, and wardrobes, others are not as lucky. As a retailer, the opportunities to give back are endless. Not only will you be creating a positive impact for students and teachers, but you'll be showing your customers that you want to serve their community.
Partnering With Nonprofits
About 16 million children in America come from families struggling against poverty and cannot afford to buy school supplies, which hinders their opportunity for success (The Kids In Need Foundation 2017 Impact Report). The Kids In Need Foundation helps to provide school supplies to underprivileged students, and there are many more organizations to choose from that support similar efforts for schools.
Students who come from impoverished families may also not have the resources available to them at home to help them with their literacy skills which are vital for success at school. In fact, 25 million children in the United States alone cannot read proficiently (The National Assessment of Educational Progress). By partnering with charities like Reading is Fundamental, you can help to provide books and literary resources to children who need it.
As a retailer, you have the unique opportunity to choose the perfect partner that will help to directly impact children in need who would otherwise have to go without all the essentials and resources needed to succeed this school year.
Get One, Give One
Donating actual supplies as opposed to making monetary donations to nonprofits, is also a great way to get your company involved. Create a one-for-one campaign for your team so when they purchase a school supply, tell them to buy two and you'll match their purchase. This could turn into an employee engagement event organizing the supplies, and physically dropping them off to the schools or nonprofits.
Teachers are always in need of school supplies, so this is a perfect opportunity to help prevent them from dipping into their own pockets to equip their students with all the needed supplies this year. Ninety-four percent of public school teachers admit that they spend their own money on notebooks, pens, and other supplies without reimbursement, with the average amount spent being $479 (National Center of Education Statistics).
By donating school supplies to your local public schools, you can greatly reduce the amount of money that teachers spend for their students and their classrooms this school year, which will alleviate stress for teachers and improve the learning environment for students.
If supplies or monetary donations are not something you'd like to implement during back to school season, that's perfectly okay. There are also other ways that you can help to give back and make a positive impact on a student. Volunteering is always a great way to not only give back, but to also build meaningful relationships with others in your community.
As class sizes grow and student to teacher ratios increase, the need for classroom volunteers has grown significantly. Encourage your employees and senior management teams alike to volunteer their time this back-to-school season. A great way to do this is through Junior Achievement. Through a Junior Achievement program, you and other employees can visit local schools and share your experiences, inspire students to pursue their dreams, or even provide educational programming that inspires students to pursue careers through quality education.
Social Impact Messaging
If there's one thing that resonates well with people is a social impact message and the best way to create a great social impact message is to start with a strong corporate social responsibility strategy. By taking initiative to create your CSR strategy, you can really help to make a positive impact.
Many people often take for granted the available resources that their children have in order to succeed in school. While promoting your back-to-school sales and featured products, you can easily integrate a social impact message by reminding consumers that there are still schools and students who lack the necessary resources needed to succeed. While three in ten shoppers plan to donate additional school supplies while shopping for back-to-school season (Deloitte's 2018 Back-to-School Survey), we can do more.
By letting customers know as soon as they get to your website that their purchase can create a positive social impact at no extra cost to them, you are showing that you care about giving back and making a difference. In fact, 45% of customers indicate that they are more likely to buy from a brand or retailer that donates a portion of purchase proceeds to charity (Salesforce).Zachary Prell and Kobelli are great examples of companies who have integrated social impact messaging into their business. Both utilize an eyebrow banner on their websites to let customers know that a portion of their purchase will be donated to a nonprofit or cause of their choice before they even begin shopping.
White + Warren is another great example of a company that has a strong social impact message integrated into their CSR strategy. Susan White Morrissey, Founder and CEO of White + Warren, chooses to align her CSR strategy with a cause that is personal to her, The American Heart Association. This allows White + Warren to give back to a cause that truly resonates with her, while also connecting with her customers who have been personally affected by heart disease.
Donation App Integration
Creating a strategy to give back to those who do not have access to the resources needed to succeed in school might seem daunting, but as a Shopify store you can utilize Change Commerce® for a truly simplified donation process. With Change Commerce, you can encourage shoppers to donate to local schools or nonprofit organizations such as Teach For America or The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation while they shop for their back-to-school essentials.
With Change Commerce, your customers can shop online as usual, but they will have the opportunity to donate to a school-friendly cause of their choice when placing their order, at no additional cost to them. To best benefit back-to-school giving, you can choose which featured nonprofits you'd like donations to go to, and shoppers can even donate to their kids' local public schools or PTAs.
While we only outlined a couple ways for you to give back this school season, we encourage you to be creative and try other mediums as well! The 2019 back-to-school shopping season is estimated to generate $80.7 billion in online revenue. If just 1% of that is donated, approximately $807 million could go to various nonprofits and charities that support education, hunger, or any other cause that you and your customers advocate for.
So, how will you make an impact?