Thursday, October 7, 2010
Latest Trends In Corporate Charitable Giving
October 1st kicked off Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a hugely popular time of year for companies to embrace the beauty of charitable giving. Everyone from the NFL to Hershey’s to Bloomingdale’s has gone pink for the month and is donating large sums of cash to breast cancer organizations.
Unfortunately for me, there are so many companies involved in breast cancer awareness that I could not decide which ones to highlight for you. So, instead, I’ve decided to explore with you the latest trends in corporate charitable giving.
October is a great month to talk about corporate giving since it’s a month saturated with charitable messaging thanks to the permeation of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in American society. You can’t argue with the fact that pink ribbons have become the October equivalent of red ribbons and bright lights around the holidays. But, how has corporate giving evolved since Breast Cancer Awareness Month emerged and corporations began slapping pink ribbons on products? Has the recipe for corporate giving truly changed over time? Or just the packaging?
You be the judge.
Generally speaking, most companies engaging in charitable giving programs usually do so in one of the following ways:
1. No-frills cash or product donations to charity
2. Employee giving matching programs
3. Event sponsorships
4. One-dollar donation for pin-up programs (usually at grocery stores)
5. Percent-of-proceeds promotions tied to specific products (especially popular during Breast Cancer Awareness Month)
6. Some combination of any or all of the above
We still continue to see all of these forms of corporate giving, but new trends are emerging, a few of which I find particularly fascinating. Thanks to some friendly folks at Benevity, I’m going to share with you some of the latest and greatest options available to companies of all shapes and sizes that are interested in charitable giving.
Online micro-donations: Companies can integrate special software into their e-commerce engines to allow customers to make donations to the charities of their choice while making online purchases. In some cases, companies will match what their customers contribute dollar-for-dollar.
Text-to-give: Companies can partner with not-for-profits to set up mobile texting programs that allow customers to text unique keywords from their cell phones to shot numeric codes, making quick and easy donations to charity from their mobile devices.
Charitable gift cards: Companies can purchase gift cards for employees and/or customers (as thank you gifts or a show of appreciation) that have specific cash values. The recipients of these gift cards can donate the cash value of their gift cards to the charities of their choice.
Add to these strategies another new trend in corporate charitable giving: Crowd-sourced corporate giving. (Think Chase Community Giving and Pepsi Refresh for the two most relevant examples of this.) Companies decide in advance how much total cash they plan to distribute to charity and create online portals through which charities and community leaders can promote their projects. Consumers are given specific time frames during which they can vote online for their favorite charities or community projects to win cash grants. The winners of these crowd-sourced online contests win both free publicity and cash for their organizations or proposed projects.
So, what do you think? Is corporate giving as we’ve known it transforming thanks to the wonders of technology? Or will traditional charitable giving strategies continue to rule despite these new advances?