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The Role of Consumerism on Nonprofits

It would be prudent, from the onset, to note that consumerism does not have an assigned definition. This is to say that in the past, there are a number of definitions that have been floated in an attempt to develop better understanding of the particular concept. However, to a large extent, consumerism has got to do with the purchase of goods and services to meet certain needs or wants. Further, it has also got to do with not only the promotion, but also the protection of consumer interests. There are a myriad of factors that are often at play in purchase decisions. What this means is that an individual paying for a good or service could be motivated by a unique set of factors. While persons have traditionally been motivated by the desire to satisfy a need or want in their purchase decisions, today, persons are increasingly being driven by a desire to do good or engage in an undertaking that benefits another party. Thus, in essence, consumers are increasingly realizing that they could deploy their purchasing power to engage in social good. Some of the terms that could be used to describe this trend are inclusive of, but they are not limited to consumer charity and ethical consumerism. As will be demonstrated in the subsequent sections of this text, the ground appears to have shifted, with more consumers appearing to be in favor of giving back with their purchases. The implication in such a case is that going forward, nonprofits will largely be competing with, or will have their efforts complemented by, brands that are cause-based.

Some authors, such as Yngfalk and Yngfalk (2019), have in the past argued that there is increased blurring of the lines between philanthropy and consumerism. According to the authors, this is more so the case owing to the fact that there has been increased popularity of the fusion of philanthropic missions with the overall business objectives of vendors. To some extent, the said changes have been triggered by the emerging millennial generation. In contrast with the previous generation, millennials are more likely to do business with organizations that have charitable leanings….

As will be indicated elsewhere in this text, this is to say that when faced with the choice of making a purchase between a company that engages in philanthropic activities and one that does not, millennials are more likely to go with companies that are active on the philanthropic front. This could be attributed to the belief, specifically among millennials, that for-profit organizations ought to give back to the society by engaging in charitable undertakings.

Traditionally, philanthropic efforts have not been enmeshed with the core operations of organizations. Instead, they have been pursued in a realm that is uniquely distinct, and have largely involved donation of funds or sponsorship of clearly defined causes. Dedicated charities have also benefited from corporate philanthropy. Some of the companies that have in the past engaged in elaborate philanthropic undertakings and have been known as generous contributors to social causes – are inclusive of; Google, Wells Fargo, Johnson and Johnson, Goldman Sachs, Pfizer, and Gilead Sciences (Maier, Meyer, and Steinbereithner, 2014). Collectively, the said companies have in the past assigned billions of dollars to diverse philanthropic efforts.

It should be noted that although the highlighted organizations could be having a genuine desire to make a difference in some way, there are some unique benefits that they stand to reap by engaging in philanthropic efforts. For instance, past studies have clearly indicated that when making a purchase, a significant number of consumers are likely to consider whether the company that they are making a purchase from is engaged in corporate philanthropy, could be deemed socially responsible, or is involved in some meaningful social causes. Indeed, in one such study, a finding was made to the effect that price and quality are the most important attributes when making a…

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