Three Ways to Encourage the Upper Class Market to Donate More to Charity

Many rich people exercise philanthropy or the act of giving away their money and expecting nothing in return—most of them instead of doing it in secret. But as society is so curious about the lives of the rich and famous, the media publicizes their generous acts. In turn, the philanthropic elites earn an excellent public image. Society views them as role models and supports all their endeavors.

But it turns out that barely a fifth of the elite’s donations go to the poor. More money goes to arts, sports teams, and other cultural pursuits. Half goes to healthcare and education, which is remarkable. But the rich could’ve given more money to charity.

Not that it’s wrong to provide for cultural pursuits. After all, many organizations in that sector rely on the support of billionaires. But if the rich can donate so much to the poor, what’s keeping them from doing so? And can companies encourage them to give more?

Companies can have a more persuasive effect than the public. Even more so if billionaires are among their stakeholders. But if you’re just a small business catering to the elite market, you also hold some power. That said, here are the ways to get them to donate more:

1. Promote Other Philanthropic Brands

As long as they’re not your competitors, your business can promote other philanthropic brands. You can do that through blogging, a search engine optimization (SEO) technique that will drive traffic to your website. You can make a list of luxurious brands that donate to charity to hint that you’d like your audience to follow their example.

Tom Ford is one example of a brand that donates. When the pandemic hit in 2020, they started donating 10% of their online sales to A Common Thread, a fundraising campaign by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). The campaign helped raise funds for fashion businesses the pandemic had severely impacted.

Roman jewelry house Bulgari also donates. They distribute part of their funds to the Spallanzani Hospital in Rome. In 2020, Bulgari announced that they would be teaming up with the Italian government to donate several hundred thousand bottles of hand sanitizers to medical facilities.

When it comes to giving back, businesses should support each other instead of competing on who donates the most. Your small business might not be able to give much, but you’re leaving an impact nonetheless. You can sway your upper-class market to increase that impact by buying more of your products and supporting big brands that also give back.

Woman using her phone with boxes of donated food in the foreground and background

2. Start a Cause Branding Strategy

Cause branding is part of a cause marketing plan, an approach to marketing in which you support a cause and get marketing benefits from it. Your small business can use the help of a cause branding company to start such a strategy. Together, you can plan fundraising events, track donations, and produce advertisements for your events and products or services.

One example of a cause branding strategy is donating a certain number of products for every number of the same product sold. The international shoe brand TOMS employs this strategy. When customers buy a pair of shoes, they donate an identical pair to a person in need. This philanthropic commitment has made TOMS one of the most influential brands in corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Your small business can nail a similar strategy, too. But since your finances are tighter, you need to be a little more creative. For example, if you’re selling socks, offer a discount on bundles and donate part of its proceeds to charity. Even better if those bundles are your premium quality socks. That way, your moneyed customers will happily pay extra for it, as their purchase can also help a person in need.

3. Peer Influencing

People are more likely to engage in a particular activity if their role models engage in it. And rich is no exception to this pull. They can also be peer-pressured into buying things, going to certain places, or avoiding something. But in this context, it’s peer influencing instead of peer pressure. Donating, after all, is still voluntary activity.

To implement peer influencing, showcase the impact of your customers’ donations. Disclose the number of children you’ve sent to school, for example. Tell your brand’s story and mission. Simply put, tap into your elite audience’s compassion. It will make them realize that their donations can help your business change even more lives.


Despite the rich’s capability to donate lots of money, though, avoid treating them like money machines. Everyone is still free to use their money however they want to. The goal of increasing the rich’s donations isn’t to antagonize their class but to make them discover the brands and organizations that can use their help.

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