It’s no longer enough for businesses to sell a superior product or service. In today’s hyperconnected world, you must also possess a spirit of goodwill to others. Consider the impact you and your business have on the world and how you can do good by others.

Consumers expect the companies they associate with to care about the communities they do business in. Call it what you want — philanthropy, altruism, social responsibility, cause marketing — but one word resonates above all else: necessity. You must give back to gain allegiance from customers (and loyalty from employees) in 2020 and beyond.

Consider this: Seventy percent of Millennials will gladly spend more money on brands that give to good causes, as companies that align with their values and their hearts are more attractive than less-philanthropic competitors. That same demographic is much more likely to want to work for companies that prioritize cultures of giving back.

In short, it’s all about the social mission. And it’s officially mission critical.

Start spreading the news

The options for giving back are limited only by a company’s collective imagination. Sponsoring community events and giving to local charities puts your name out there, leading to more customers discovering who you are and feeling good about spending money with you. The benefits extend internally as well, as altruistic efforts have been shown to improve employee morale and increase emotional attachment to the company.

To promote your philanthropic efforts, not much moves the needle as effectively as a good story. Telling powerful customer stories is an important and effective marketing tool, and our incredible network of Microsoft partners has plenty of inspiring tales to tell.

These anecdotes pull at heartstrings and show future customers that you are here to help them succeed. When you align with customers that are doing good and then go the extra step to boost their story, you’re not only helping them through sharing their truth — you’re also highlighting that you associate with like-minded companies that are also doing good in the world.

It’s the proverbial win-win.

Align your altruistic efforts

How has your company helped boost another business? If the answer is “well, we haven’t,” we’re here to help you get started.

As you may or may not know, Microsoft gives back through philanthropic efforts. The mission for this nonprofit sector of our corporation is “working to create a future where every person has the skills, knowledge, and opportunity to achieve more.”

For instance, Microsoft has an amazing partnership with Team Rubicon, which is an international disaster-response nonprofit that uses military veterans and first responders to provide relief to communities in need. We also partner with schools to help increase education and encourage younger generations to get familiar with computer sciences. These are but two of the dozens of causes we’re proud to partner with.

As a multibillion-dollar corporation with tens of thousands of employees, it’s admittedly easier for Microsoft to invest in philanthropic efforts than smaller businesses. Still, supporting just one small cause can have serious ripple effects. How can your company get involved? Start with these three steps:

1. Be authentic! Customers can see when companies are authentic and committed to a good cause. They can also see the opposite. Be transparent and put your name on the good you’re doing — just don’t brag or boast unnecessarily. Tell a straightforward story and encourage others to follow suit. Let the facts speak for themselves.

2. Involve people who are passionate about the mission. It’s much easier to accomplish any task, philanthropic or otherwise, when everyone is on board to row in the same direction. Figure out who on the team is super excited to participate in your charitable efforts and utilize their willingness to help. That community spirit will spread quicker than you imagine.

3. Make your social mission a part of your company mission. Align your views and good deeds with the work your company is doing. Making those goals part of the overall mission keeps it top of mind and shows consumers, partners, and others that you are deeply committed to your causes. Fly that flag proudly.

Remember, the value of participating in cause marketing far outweighs the nominal costs. In addition to receiving a boost in positive publicity, you’ll win the favor of a buying public who wants to invest in your efforts by proxy. Some 55% of people will spend more money on your product or service if you’re actively giving back.

As your business gets increasingly ingrained with the charities it supports and the community it champions, you’ll find that the difference you’re able to make is contagious. It feels good to do good, and customers want to feel good by doing business with you. When you resolve to pay it forward, you end up getting so much more in return.