Taylor's Education Group has always believed in teaching individuals to fish rather than giving them the fish. Its CSR programmes, in particular, have always included an educational element and ended with impact measurement to ensure that the donations are given back to the communities to create a long term impact. However, the pandemic and the Movement Control Order in Malaysia threw a wrench in its plans and as a result, Taylor's had to adapt its CSR strategy to fit the changing times. The swift pivot of the strategies while staying true to its brand values led the education institution to win Gold for Excellence in Public Sector / Non-Profit Marketing at A+M's Marketing Excellence Awards Malaysia 2020.
The pandemic took Taylor's by surprise, disrupting its usual plans to go on ground to meet the beneficiaries of its CSR initiatives, majority of who are from the B40 category living in public low-cost (PPR) housing. At the same time, there was no marketing budget allocated to CSR initiatives. Hence, Taylor's had to adapt quickly by identifying new zero-cost ways of engaging with existing beneficiaries and reach new markets to forge new relationships.
The Movement Control Order (MCO), however, posed a challenge to Taylor's because it could no longer run its initial programmes. Moving these CSR programmes online was also a challenge because the Internet connection was limited and data usage is a hefty cost for its communities to bear. This is especially so when basic necessities such as food was already a scarcity for majority of its beneficiaries who included less fortunate individual business owners.
Taylor's struggled to find a common ground engaging with its beneficiaries through care pack giveaways without compromising its brand identity of transforming charity to sustainability.
Another issue Taylor's faced was that it works with corporate entities on CSR projects to financially sustain its work for the beneficiaries. Without physical events, however, it loses the opportunity to increase its partners' brand visibility through logo or bunting placements, booths and overall mentions throughout the physical engagement.
Hence, to further engage with its beneficiaries, Taylor's also had to brainstorm how it could increase the brand awareness of its CSR partners without going on the ground.
To better understand the needs of its beneficiaries and their receptiveness towards online programmes and engagement, Taylor's ran an online survey with them during the first week of MCO. The survey found that data usage-friendly programmes that are relevant to their needs and include grocery care pack incentives are the best way to engage with its beneficiaries virtually.
According to Taylor's the grocery care packs would encourage beneficiaries to complete its programmes centred around emotional well-being modules, safety and hygiene and digital marketing classes. These were identified in the survey as their struggles. At the same time, its educational programmes also allowed Taylor's to benefit its "customers" in the long run and meet their basic needs, without compromising its identity in transformation charity to sustainability.
The education institution explained that the biggest strength and competitive advantage it has over other NGOs is that it can leverage its past experience of including brand awareness as well as qualitative and quantitative impact measurement for the programme sponsored.
It also tapped on the increased social media presence of its beneficiaries to drive higher traffic to its social media posts with the mentioning of its sponsors. Taylor's explained that this increased brand awareness for new brands that want higher visibility or existing partnering brands that want to strengthen their branding among the local community.
Besides addressing the needs of beneficiaries, Taylor's also tweaked its programmes to align with the identity of its partnering brands and sponsors. One of its partners, Takaful Malaysia, has the tagline "We protect. We care. We share." Therefore, its module curator would then ensure that both programmes align.
The activity created for Takaful Malaysia involved having beneficiaries draw three pictures to show how they protect, care and share during COVID-19. Winners stood a chance to receive basic necessities worth RM100.
Post-activity, Taylor's also created impact reports for sponsors to help the education institution remain credible, while at the same time attesting to its promise on delivering community projects sustainably.
Aside from impact measurement, each team member at Taylor's also worked on their personal branding on LinkedIn to engage individuals from corporate companies about what it does. Employees also indirectly pitched the institution's efforts on their personal social media accounts. According to Taylor's, this has brought about more funding that supported its engagement efforts with beneficiaries without going on ground.
To raise awareness of its programmes, Taylor's announced them through its Facebook page and sent information to the WhatsApp group chats of its past beneficiary programme with an attached registration link. It also identified the community influencers within each PPR community to help spread the news about its programmes and their benefits.
For each programme that is art-related, Taylor's also ran social media voting contests to increase the awareness of what its community is doing. Its beneficiaries also encourage their neighbours and friends to like and share the posts, allowing the latter to find out more about Taylor's and its CSR partners. Once the participants are recruited, new WhatsApp groups are then created for each programme and serve as platforms to execute those programmes without going on ground.
At the same time, Taylor's also ran data-friendly online educational programmes and handed out grocery care packs. According to the education institution, this helped me constantly engage with beneficiaries virtually and remain relevant.
The data-friendly online education programmes are crucial because executing online classes through video conferencing is taxing on data usage. Taylor's explained that almost all of its beneficiaries do not have stable Internet connection. Hence, the educational modules were created through powerpoint slides and shared with the beneficiaries in PDF. Screenshots of each slide were also sent to participants and videos were created and uploaded onto YouTube.
Additionally, Taylor's also did brand shoutouts on its Facebook page, as well as logo placement in the materials for its online programme. It also included a brand-sponsored element into its programme activities. According to the education institution, this provided Taylor's the win-win strategy where it would receive funds to incentivise its engagement with its beneficiaries.
Impact reports were also churned out for each of its programmes to evaluate whether Taylor's has impacted its beneficiaries positively. It also serves as a credible update for sponsors. A call-to-action is also included in those social media posts.
Complementing its impact data story is a personal branding exercise which Taylor's said helped renew its passion in serving the community. The LinkedIn community responded positively and better understood the plight of its beneficiaries. Taylor's also witnessed an increase in engagement rates on the platform as well.
Meanwhile, Taylor's also used this brand alignment exercise to refresh its purpose which led to an updated logo. The new logo was unveiled as a tribute to thank all its sponsors for making virtual engagement with its beneficiaries possible.
Taylor's witnessed a 500% increase in Facebook following during the MCO, which was stagnant since mid of 2019. It also had a 179% increase in monthly engaged users and a 142% increase in monthly organic reach. The education institute explained that by identifying its beneficiaries' struggles and their openness to online programs, it never compromised its identity on transforming charity to sustainability. All 40 COVID-19 relief and recovery programmes for its beneficiaries were executed with educational elements that addressed their struggles, providing sustainable impact.
Within the first month of MCO, Taylor's was able to engage two of its past partners to sponsor its COVID-19 relief programmes. Through these experiences, the institution had four new leads and converted all of them to new partners. Half of the leads were recruited through an online platform. At the same time, half of those partners which came on board were also in discussions with Taylor's to plan bigger and longer programmes for its beneficiaries after participating in the relief programmes. Overall, Taylor's doubled its beneficiary database that had been consistent since 2018 and saw a 200% increase in leads from corporate partners through online platforms.