Earlier this year, the Home1 campaign launched with the mission of raising awareness of the looming housing crisis in America. The campaign is another example of an organization working to effect positive social change… and an opportunity for building products companies to be part of a movement.

If they do it right.

As industries go, home building and remodeling offers many opportunities for the companies that serve the channel to make an impact. There are several organizations, like Home1, Habitat for Humanity and others with which companies can partner on programs or campaigns.

Cause Marketing and Corporate Social Responsibility are nothing new; their benefits are well-documented, so we don’t need to repeat them here.

However, there are still many companies becoming involved in causes that are simply not doing it right. Either they’re not leveraging the opportunity well, or their efforts come off as insincere and self-serving.

To avoid that, here are our tips for building products companies getting involved in causes:

Do it for the right reasons

When a company is promoting its support of a cause and it’s not authentic, you can just tell.

For your efforts to look genuine, they need to be genuine. The motivation to support a cause must come from the company’s leadership and DNA.

When your reasons for supporting a cause are authentic, that will come through in your messaging and promotion.

And your customers will sense it.

Don’t just write a check

It used to be that companies would simply support a cause through monetary support. In exchange they would get a logo on a website or a brochure, and that would pretty much be the extent of the involvement.

Many companies still take that approach, and there’s nothing wrong with supporting a group financially. But to get the real value out of supporting a cause — for all parties involved — companies need to bring their unique strengths to the relationship.

For building and construction brands, that usually means providing the products they make to help a nonprofit organization fulfill their mission. But it can also include operational strengths. Trucks, call centers and warehouse space are all resources that nonprofit organizations need… sometimes even more than actual products.

Involve people

More than contributing materials and money, the best value that companies can offer are often the time and talents of their employees. This not only helps organizations get things done, but it gets people involved.

When your staff gets engaged in a cause supported by a brand, the authenticity quotient goes up exponentially. No one could argue that a company isn’t genuine when dozens of employees are regularly participating in events, demonstrating true support and caring.

Tell the stories

Where most companies stop short in getting the true value out of a relationship with a cause or a nonprofit: They don’t tell the stories.

Supporting a cause offers access to more robust storytelling opportunities than most anything else a company can do. When you’re dealing with helping people… you’re dealing with real, human, emotional stories. And that’s what resonates with audiences.

This scares many companies — because they don’t want to be viewed as self-serving. But if you tell the stories in an authentic way (leaving the sales messages out of it) this concern is minimal.

Most importantly, it will help the nonprofit you support by spreading their message in ways they couldn’t accomplish on their own.