Whole Foods Market

Innovative technology increases reach of Whole Foods Market’s cause marketing

We used our proprietary fundraising technology (marketed under the Social Good Network banner) to provide Whole Foods Market with extended online fundraising opportunities. In other words, our fundraising platform helped Whole Foods do a whole lot of good.

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The challenge

Whole Foods Market is a mission-driven outfit. And while it’s Fortune 500 size, Whole Foods operates at community level scale, working to positively integrate itself into its local and global communities. Whole Foods’ Boise store wanted to increase awareness for its community initiatives by leveraging the company’s considerable influence and online network to deliver measurable social impact. 

The solution

The Boise store used our fundraising platform for two specific initiatives: fundraising for the annual Whole World Foundation drive and a holiday “Feed Four More” campaign on behalf of Idaho Foodbank. Our platform helped extend their point-of-sale fundraising by enabling people to contribute online, on Facebook, on their smartphone, in the in-store moment or at their convenience elsewhere. All of which broadened the reach of Whole Foods’ cause marketing while also introducing the brand to potential new customers. 

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The results

Fundraising for the Whole Foods Foundation, which provides micro-loans to largely female entrepreneurs in the developing world, was increased by 12 percent in our pilot program. During the holidays, we again increased donations, but this time included a reward for donating—a coupon for free strawberries!—that was used to drive in-store traffic. Another campaign that was a sweet success. 

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More about this project

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  • Storytelling Drives the Technology

    We’re storytellers, so of course story resides at the center of this digital cause-marketing platform. The technology employs crowdfunding dynamics and video storytelling to make meaningful connections that can be easily shared online. Done right, this empowers people (and brands) to generate measurable social impact.

    Social Good Network’s platform revolves around an operating principle of Go-Anywhere Fundraising™. The suite of products comprising this platform easily embeds on virtually any site, including Facebook, and also works on mobile devices.

    This gives cause marketers a powerful tool to create brand awareness and measure their efforts. For nonprofit causes, it increases donations and attracts new online donors.

    In 2013, we tested the platform on two prototype cause-marketing campaigns powered by New Belgium Brewing and Whole Foods Market. Based on these campaigns, we are now rolling it out more broadly.

    Increasing Impact at Tour de Fat

    Have you been to New Belgium Brewing’s Tour de Fat event? Billed as bikes, beers, and amusement, it celebrates sustainability, community involvement, and bicycle culture with a couple pints of beer.

    The experience is part tent-show revival, mini-Woodstock, German bier garden, 4th of July parade, and Sturgis Motorcycle Rally—rolled into a rolling festival that visits a dozen cities coast-to-coast in its annual tour.

    The Pandemonium of a People-Powered Parade

    Tour de Fat kicks off with its signature, people-powered bicycle parade, which is where we pedaled in with our technology.

    Typically, registration for the parade occurs the morning of the big event. Registration also includes the option for a recommended donation to a local grassroots bicycling nonprofit.

    Remember, this is early Saturday morning. People were out celebrating the weekend’s arrival on Friday night. Parents are rousting tousle-haired children from their slumber.

    Here’s what they find when they arrive to register for the parade: A fevered pitch of excitement to moment, the air charged with electricity and the hullabaloo of a good time, the smell of bicycle tire rubber against pavement—a beautiful thing, yes!— but also a mixture of cluster meets crowded meets volunteers, an equation that certainly leads to fewer registrations and donations.


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    Old School Meets New Wave

    Old-school bicycles are one thing. They’re sweet. Old school registration—paper based—definitely isn't cool.

    We saw an opportunity to make purposeful sense of the pandemonium. We partnered with the fantastic folks at Boise Bicycle Project, the parade’s local beneficiary, to create an online registration component.

    “We’ve had a few different donation services in the past, but we’ve never had anything that could really share the story of the Boise Bicycle Project until we joined the Social Good Network,” said Jimmy Hallyburton, Founder and Executive Director of the Boise Bicycle Project.

    The simple registration feature enabled parade participants to register online in advance of the event and donate at the same time. It featured a cool video that educated participants about the “goodness” of the event—where the donation would go (to fuel the good work of Boise Bicycle Project) and showcasing the mission (and fun spirit) of Tour de Fat and New Belgium Brewing.

    Purpose Gets More Prosperous as a Result

    The online component launched just a week in advance of the event. It increased donations by more than 50% over the prior year. And all new-registration growth—which also helped in list-building efforts—was delivered by our online component.

    And because our software was embedded on multiple partner sites with messaging wrapped around it, New Belgium Brewing—a fellow certified B Corporation—significantly heightened awareness and reach for its event and its beer.   A First for Whole Foods Market

    Whole Foods Market is a mission-driven outfit. And while it’s Fortune 500 size, it operates at community level scale, working to positively integrate itself in its local communities— and in global communities as well.

    Whole Foods Market wanted to increase awareness for its community initiatives by leveraging its considerable influence and online network to deliver measurable social impact.

    We tested the platform with the Boise store on two initiatives: fundraising for the annual Whole World Foundation drive and a holiday “Feed Four More” campaign on behalf of the Idaho Foodbank.

    “This was a first for Whole Foods Market anywhere,” said Matt Collins, marketing and community relations specialist for the Boise store. “Feed Four More is a successful in-store fundraiser for us, and we used technology to make it easy and convenient for people to give when they aren’t in the store.”

    Complementing and Driving In-Store Experience

    Fundraising for social initiatives at Whole Foods traditionally happens at point-of-sale, and it’s quite effective. Our platform extended this by enabling people to contribute online, on Facebook, on their smartphone, in the in-store moment or at their convenience elsewhere. This broadened the reach of Whole Foods Market’s cause marketing while also introducing the brand to potential new customers.

    Fundraising for the Whole Foods Foundation, which provides micro-loans to largely female entrepreneurs in the developing world, was increased by 12% in our pilot program. During the holidays, we again increased donations, but this time included a reward for donating— a coupon for free strawberries!—that was used to drive in-store traffic.

    Filling Bellies for the Foodbank

    For the Idaho Foodbank campaign, we produced a storytelling video, “Bellies,” that was featured online and in-store as an end-cap promotion for the cause.

    There were additional benefits for the nation’s leading natural foods grocer.

    Whole Foods strengthened partner relationships by using the flexibility of our digital platform to invite vendors to participate in the initiative. Through a transparent opt-in process, it obtained valuable customer data. It created brand lift, heightened awareness, and engagement via traditional PR and social media that were occasioned by the effort.

    As important, it enabled Whole Foods Market to visibly demonstrate its commitment to its mission-driven corporate values, strengthening critical connections in the community that influence image and sales.

    Now It’s Your Turn

    The technology platform has been tested in and improved.

    It’s been hailed by Advertising Week, which featured Social Good Network’s technology during the “Video, Content, and Storytelling” track of its 10th anniversary Advertising Week Experience last year.

    And now we’re preparing to launch it at scale—to help brands tell meaningful cause stories, connect with customers, and in the process create more social impact in the world.

    So what’s keeping you?

    I like the way you work.

    Let's Talk.

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    Please enter your last name.
    Please enter a valid email address.
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