Special Guest Speaker: Susan White Morrissey, Founder & CEO of White + Warren
It’s no secret that passionate people are more successful. No matter which field you work in, employees who are passionate will outperform those who aren’t. The same idea applies to organizations who are passionate about the charities they work with— they are able to provide more impact than organizations who simply pick a random cause to support out of sense of obligation over a genuine connection.
Building an authentic brand means aligning with authentic causes. The world is a pretty big place, filled with thousands of needs and worthwhile organizations to focus on. However, dollar for dollar, we believe that finding a cause that is aligned with what your leadership, employees, and shareholders care about is paramount to the success of your giving campaigns.
A perfect example of how to successfully blend passion with purpose is Susan White Morrissey, Founder and CEO of White + Warren.
Passion Leads to Purpose
“You can’t get passionate about something that isn’t personal.” - Susan White Morrissey
On this installment of the Impact Exchange, Ronny sat down with the CEO & Founder of White + Warren--a luxury women’s knitwear company that has become famous for their signature Cashmere Travel Wrap.
White + Warren was founded over twenty years ago, a true testament to the high quality of craftsmanship that goes into their products.
For a company that puts so much care and attention into its products, it comes as no surprise that their corporate social responsibility strategy involves working with a charity that is near and dear to the founder’s own passion.
Cashmere for a Cause
Eight years ago, Susan unexpectedly lost her husband to a massive coronary event. Kevin was unaware that he had heart disease.
Unexpected deaths like Kevin’s are unfortunately not a rarity. In fact, heart disease is the single biggest killer in the US accounting for more than 600,000 deaths each year--that’s 1 in 4 people--according to the CDC.
For Susan, the choice on which charity she wanted to align with was clear when she looked to her own experience.
Working with the American Heart Association has allowed Susan to get involved with amazing people, which was not only good for her personally, but it has also been a good fit for her customers.
White + Warren designs for strong and inspiring women, which is another important factor in their decision to choose to work with the American Heart Association.
Every 80 seconds a woman dies of heart disease. Most show no signs or symptoms. However, 80% of all heart disease deaths are preventable, when women know their numbers (blood pressure, cholesterol and other factors).
Now more than ever, consumers expect brands to be a source of positive change. White + Warren has worked to not only educate their customers about the dangers of heart disease but also so show that their health and well-being is a top priority for the company.
Edelman conducted a study, which found that 64% of consumers would be willing to switch, boycott, or support a brand based on the social issues they align with.
For women in the US and beyond, White + Warren has exhibited tremendous alignment with an important cause that showcases their commitment to their customers’ wellbeing.
Permission to Make it Personal
How can your company model White + Warren’s corporate social responsibility model?
Take some of Susan’s advice:
“I gave myself permission to make this personal, then I worked it into my business. If it isn’t personal it doesn’t work.”
By making it personal she was able to take control over the direction of her company’s campaign in order to create something meaningful. The support for the Go Red For Women campaign through the Cashmere for a Cause collection was born out of a personal desire to bring awareness into the lives of consumers.
She encouraged companies to learn about the organizations they align with and find out how they run their nonprofit. Once you and your team are up to speed on how to help the organization of your choice, you can tailor a plan to make the most impact.
Your Actionable Takeaways
1. Find a Nonprofit or Cause You Connect With
Finding an organic and authentic fit is the most important aspect of giving back in a way that is sustainable for your company. The key is to develop great working relationships with the people who run that organization, as they will be the ones capable of helping you achieve your goals.
2. Find a Program that Helps you Give Back with few Resources
Starting out, your company won’t be able to make massive donations, but will still want to get the ball rolling. A little is better than nothing, especially if this is new for your organization. As you get more acquainted with the process and strengthen the relationships within the nonprofit you are working with, you’ll be able to give more and make a bigger impact.
3. Check Out the Program that White + Warren Use to Give Back