Don’t Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, Put Your Back: Supercharged Philanthropy

Mar 11, 2011   //   by Bradley Short   //   Blog, Company Culture, Marketing & Communication, Uncategorized  //  No Comments

“It’s good to hear that you donated some money to a cause, but I can do that myself!  Show me what you can really do!”

I’ve heard a number of fellow SXSW attendees today commenting about the limited effectiveness of many philanthropic campaigns.  A recurring theme was something along the lines of “giving money to charities and then telling customers about it is good, but is there a better way?”

Charitable giving is definitely good, but your company can do better than just that.  Three main ideas kept coming up:

  • Stick to what you are really good at doing.
  • Don’t cut non-profits out; they can help you too.
  • And finally, don’t tell your customers what you do, show them!

Instead of simply donating money to groups that do good or providing pro-bono services to others, why not combine all three of these ideas and supercharge your philanthropy?

Supercharging your philanthropy

Take the core function of your business and partner with a non-profit that could benefit from it.  Find a non-profit that can use a core competency of your business.  Team-up with them so you can utilize their core competency.  They understand the problem that they are trying to fix (hunger, illiteracy, etc.) better than you, so they can make your impact more meaningful.  Then, really make it exciting for your customers by enabling your employees to share the good work they are doing via social media.  Give your employees pocket video cameras, for instance, like TOMS Shoes does and let them post videos of their work in action.

A web developer was telling me about how her company organizes summits where graphic designers, programmers, and others all get together to create technological solutions for non-profits.  They literally all get together in a room and work together.  If they took short videos of everyone working all together and posted them online, customers would really be able to see how their money goes towards something concrete and beneficial.

Employees, communities, customers, and companies: everybody wins!

Your employees are happy that they get to do some good for the people around them, non-profits are happy that they get the goods and services that they need, your customers are happy that they are supporting a company that is doing good, and you’re happy because consumers develop good feelings toward your brand!  (And spend appropriately…)

So giving money to charities is good, but why settle for a win, when socially empowered, supercharged philanthropy can get you a win-win-win-win?