Bloomingdale’s maintains its commitment to philanthropy – WWD
For Bloomingdale’s, giving back is rooted in its business.
From supporting young people with mental health issues to raising funds to fight breast cancer and other life-threatening illnesses, the retailer has always been proactive in helping to reduce problems and diseases that affect its audience and the general public. In a recent interview, Frank Berman, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, highlighted some of these past and present efforts.
Cause-related marketing and philanthropy are not new frontiers for Bloomingdale’s, which chooses partners based on three pillars: inclusiveness and diversity, sustainability, and a vision for a better future.
Bloomingdale’s is the founding sponsor of the Child Mind Institute, a non-profit organization that has helped thousands of young people with issues such as anxiety, depression, dyslexia and other mental issues. When the two sides joined forces in 2009, mental health was not an openly talked about issue like it is today. Berman said of the company’s continued commitment, “We are especially interested in the young people of today who will hopefully be the good citizens of tomorrow and hopefully the good customers of Bloomingdale’s tomorrow. And today’s customers have children,” adding that as many as one in six children in the United States has a treatable mental illness.
More than 17 million Americans under the age of 18 have a diagnosable mental health or learning disorder, more than children with cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined. The Child Mind Institute offers innovative research, clinical care and educational campaigns. To date, Bloomingdale’s has raised approximately $2.8 million for the organization since 2009.
At periodic events with the Child Mind Institute, Berman said he was always inspired to listen to children’s personal success stories after Bloomingdale-supported programs made them more confident and acclimated. “These are children with a bright future ahead of them,” he said.
The long-standing partnership has consisted of various initiatives. This holiday season, Bloomingdale’s brought back its collectible “Little Brown Bear,” donating $5 to the Child Mind Institute for every $22 bear sold. In November and December of last year, shoppers also had the option to round up their in-store purchase to the nearest dollar in support of the institute, as well as the option to donate at checkout on the online store. from Bloomingdale’s.
Over the years, the retailer has worked on a multitude of charitable initiatives. In 2007, Bloomingdale’s donated $268,100 to AmeriCares, a nonprofit organization dedicated to international disaster relief efforts and humanitarian aid organization. That spring, the company partnered with Chanel to raise awareness and funds for the New York University Center for Child Studies.
Bloomingdale’s Shop for Good campaign has also benefited many organizations. In 2020, for example, the retailer launched a special Lauren by Ralph Lauren collection inspired by “Wonder Woman” that was sold as part of the Shop for Good campaign that supported 12 charities across the United States that celebrate local heroes fighting COVID-19.
Bloomingdale’s also strives to do things internally with colleagues, lending support when needed as part of its philanthropic efforts.
Asked if the responsibility for raising funds where they have leveled off due to federal, state and local government cutbacks falls increasingly on businesses, Berman said, “We certainly recognize what is happening in the world, in terms of funding and where some of the challenges exist. We think it’s important to us. It is a commitment for us. Our internal tagline for our cause-related efforts is “B the Change” because we call ourselves to be part of the change for good and on our consumer base. Those are the big topics – how can I sit at the table and make sure we’re focused on inclusivity and diversity, not just in our marketing, but in the makeup of our colleagues and how we treat each other? ”
Through a partnership with the Fashion Institute of Technology, the retailer aims to help students become future leaders in sustainability through Bloomingdale’s x FIT Sustainable Innovation Fund. This new effort is being made in honor of the retailer’s 150th anniversary and the launch of its “B the Change” campaign.
There is also a commitment to giving children from diverse backgrounds the opportunity for education, employment and a healthy mind. Beyond having a solid platform to relay useful messages, Bloomingdale’s aims to engage communities through topics that are important to them, Berman said.
Step back to 1914, when Bloomingdale’s supported the women’s suffrage movement by working with young school dropouts to ensure they had an education and a career in business. Fast forward to the 90s, when the retailer teamed up with former “Today” show host Katie Couric to raise awareness for colorectal cancer – not exactly a trending topic – after the death of her first husband . While a decent amount of money was raised to fight the disease, the main message was that people should get tested. “People weren’t talking about it. People were dying in silence. They were embarrassed by the symptoms they had rather than dealing with something that was incredibly important to their overall health,” Berman said.
Bloomingdale’s has been a partner of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation since 2004 and has helped raise $16.2 million. The alliance was first sparked by Evelyn Lauder. In 1993, Lauder founded the foundation to advance the most promising research related to the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and survival of breast cancer. The organization is the largest private funder of breast cancer research in the world and invests millions each year to support the work of leading medical and academic institutions.
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, the retailer illuminates its flagship product with pink lighting and raises awareness and funds through its pink campaign. For a limited time, exclusive products and in-store events are featured. The initiative also helps fund projects for the Carey Foundation, which eases the financial burden for people facing the diagnosis of breast cancer, and the Marisa Acocella Marchetto Foundation, which helps the uninsured and underinsured to care. breast cancer patients and survivors. Bloomingdale’s has enlisted celebrities at various times to draw attention to the initiative. In October 2009, Elizabeth Hurley and Lauder showed up to help light the retailer’s flagship pink to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Estée Lauder Companies World Landmarks Illumination Initiative and to help raise funds.
Always looking for causes that fit the community it serves, one of the current alliances, for example, is with DonorsChoose, an organization that promotes education by helping teachers and children with the school supplies they need. need. The partnership began in August 2021 and is in its second year. The retailer has funded 180 projects with nearly $97,000 donated to 178 schools through a biennial Shop for Good campaign.
In September 2020, Bloomingdale’s worked with director and producer Allen Hughes to create a campaign supporting When We All Vote, an organization that encourages voter registration. For every purchase of the exclusive Hughes-designed “Vote” mask, $10 was donated to When We All Vote.
Bloomingdale’s has also partnered with Help USA and Mentoring USA since 1998, supporting each group through fundraising, employee volunteerism and direct donations. Help USA specializes in national housing and homelessness services, and Mentoring USA, one of its subsidiaries, is a New York-based nonprofit that provides mentorship to children aged seven at 21 years old. After Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, Bloomingdale’s employees got started by donating goods and volunteering with Help USA.
Recalling how some consumers may generalize fashion as frivolous or non-essential despite philanthropic works, Berman said, “We’re not trying to change people’s minds. The Bloomingdale’s brand is a fabulous recipe. It’s not just one thing. There are several ingredients that make the brand what it is today. And what has made it relevant over the past 150 years is the way we organize the goods, the brands we select, the way we market them, the way we serve our customers,” said Berman. “It’s entertainment. When you come to Bloomingdale’s, it should be an exciting place that engages your senses, inspires and delights and then educates. Ultimately, it gives you the style you want for yourself, for your family, for your friends, and for your home. »