Generation generous: how the automotive industry can keep pace with the charitable instincts of millennials

This blog is the second in a series of publications focusing on CSR and the automotive industry which have been informed by discussions with representatives from across the industry and which draw on CAF’s own research and experiences of working with corporate clients to develop and implement all facets of their CSR strategies.

The blogs are written by James Edney, Senior Corporate Advisor at CAF

Automotive sector: Blog 2 of 3

There is growing evidence of increased charitable giving by young people and that they are more engaged in social issues than previous generations. Research undertaken by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) demonstrates clearly that the proportion of society’s youngest generations giving their time, support or donating money to charitable causes is increasing at a faster rate than the older age groups.

Our findings evidence what automotive manufacturers may already be aware of from the habits of their own employees, particularly if they offer payroll giving or volunteering days.

Implications for automotive manufacturers

These developments have significant implications for automotive manufacturers who will count that younger audience as a pool of potential employees and customers with whom they hope to have life-long relationships; how manufacturers are perceived by those individuals will have implications long into the future.

In the UK, young people are proving to be generous and engaged:

CAF’s World Giving Index 2015 report also shows that those trends are not confined to the UK. Our research found that of global 15-29 year olds:

  • 50.6% helped a stranger in the past month in 2014, a 1.8 percentage point increase on 2013
  • 27.3% donated money in the past month in 2014, a 5.4 percentage point increase on 2013
  • 24.6% in developed countries volunteered their time in the past month in 2014, a 3.9 percentage point increase on 2013

Implications as an employer

In response to the philanthropic ambitions of their employees, automotive manufacturers are well placed to facilitate their employees’ own charitable instincts by offering payroll giving. For those who do not offer such a scheme they may be denying them access to tax-efficient giving and preventing money reaching charities in need of financial support.

Implications as a corporate partner

Automotive manufacturers will also almost certainly have corporate charity partnerships which send a message to internal and external stakeholders about how a business sees its role in society. As the expectations and charitable instincts of millennials mature, it will be increasingly important that those partnerships are genuine and more than just a partnership in name alone. This is essential to give the partnership credibility amongst the people that will frequently be asked to fundraise for it.

What message does your charitable activity communicate to your stakeholders?

Based on the extensive experience in CAF’s Corporate Advisory team of developing successful charity partnerships for our clients, we know that people, product, and profit should all play a part. But even a partnership that hits those notes will fall short if automotive manufacturers don’t also communicate to their employees a clear alignment between its corporate charity partnerships and its wider business strategy. We have found that who the partnership is with can be as important as the support that flows between the two partners.

That is not to say that community investment and charitable giving is uncommon across the automotive industry. The latest SMMT Sustainability Report states that in 2015 its signatories reported making charitable donations of almost £5 million, plus in-kind contributions worth more than £1.2 million, and gave over 160,000 hours of their time. Outside of those signatories, and extending more globally, those numbers will be significantly higher, reaching the hundreds of millions.

Such activity demonstrates that the automotive industry is clearly engaged in social causes, but to what extent is such engagement strategic and undertaken with the intention of demonstrating a philanthropic commitment to customers? And as large employers, is it used to drive employee engagement and create brand champions across the workforce?

Those are just some of the questions that automotive manufacturers need to be asking themselves as they consider the relationships they want to have with members of the millennial generation now and in the future.

If you would like to discuss how the issues covered in this blog affect your business or if you are interested in receiving more information please contact James Edney, Senior Corporate Advisor in CAF’s dedicated Corporate Advisory service or Kuljit Karir, Corporate Client Manager.

Back to top

Emission impossible

Find out how automotive manufacturers can strengthen their brands 

Read blog number 1

Engineered to give more

Find out more about the benefits of your Payroll Giving scheme.

CAF Give As You Earn