Is Philanthropy the New Marketing?

 

Has large corporate America figured out what small business has known for a long time?  That giving back to the community is not only the right thing to do, but also a great way to get your name/product/promotion out there for free?  

As a small business owner in a previous life with The Space Store, I learned early on that advertising was not only expensive, it really didn’t work - it just wasn’t an option for us.  However creative promotions, astronaut autograph signings and donations did the trick every time.  

The Space Store donated silent auctions items on a regular basis, from astronaut flight suits for kids to official astronaut patches to space shuttle toys.  It meant we got our name in the program and an eye catching display in the silent auction for charity functions across the country.  All it cost The Space Store was a small amount of postage, a little effort to pack up and ship the item, and, a few dollars in actual wholesale costs.  In fact, over time, we were able to convince vendors to send us additional inventory that was to be used strictly for these donations, at no charge to The Space Store.

Now, Pepsi has announced the Pepsi Refresh Project.   In lieu of spending millions of dollars on Super Bowl ads that we’ll all forget a few days later, the beverage maker plans to award grants to “people, businesses and non-profits with ideas that will have a positive impact.”    Starting February 1st, you can vote for up to 10 of your favorite ideas every day.  The Pepsi Refresh Project will be looking for 1000 ideas every month.  All voting will start on the 1st and continue through the last day of every month.

"Corporate social responsibility is not a new idea, but one that resonates more than ever  with consumers in the driver's seat, controlling and sharing information," says Helen Vollmer, CEO of Vollmer Public Relations, one of the largest independent PR firms in the country.  "The Mad Men days of advertisers telling us what to think and what to buy is long gone.  Today savvy marketers understand that we want a voice in what's happening around us.  Those companies that embrace this and involve us in their core values will win every time." 

Need another example?  Perhaps you have noticed the television spots running for Disney every other commercial break?  Here is one more great charitable campaign that is garnering attention across the country.  Give a Day. Get a Disney Day.   The goal is “to inspire one million people to volunteer a day of service to a participating organization in their communities.”  When you visit the official Disney website, you are given the chance to search a list of eligible organizations you can volunteer a day for based on your Zip Code.  After you find your volunteer opportunity, you sign up with that organization.  Once that organization sends verification that you have indeed volunteered, Disney will send you an email with a voucher redeemable for a 1-day, 1-theme park ticket for you to use, or you may donate it to a designated charitable organization.  

Not only are these major iconic American corporations giving back to our communities, they’ve also found an excellent way to spend considerably less money on wide scale campaigns, picking up some good karma along the way and garnering free advertising on blogs, tweets and posts worldwide.  I promise you, chances are, I would not have written, tweeted or posted about either of these companies for one of their traditional advertising campaigns. 

Of course, the ‘terms and conditions’ on each site will wear you out trying to read and understand them all - just read the terms as best you can and know some way and somehow Pepsi, Disney and you are doing your part to make this a better world.  (And giving the corporate lawyers something to do as well.) 

By the way, The Space Store is still up and running with a new owner.  Need some space toys or stuff?  The 10% discount code is still teacher.  You’re welcome.

Rock on Steeleworkers!  

 

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5 Comments

  • Lalia Helmer

    Hi Dayna,
    I loved reading about the SpaceStore and how their philanthropy has helped their business grow. I have been writing about the inspiring stories of other such businesses for almost a year now and there are many small companies that are finding wonderful,creative philanthropic ways of giving back to their communities, locally and globally.
    I agree that there is a trend for big businesses to give back to their communities and that is exciting to see. . But I have a different picture of small businesses and the trend in CSR or philanthropy. Unlike for big business, there is still no "trend' for small business in giving back. Witness the various big conferences in cities like San Francisco, Boston and New York, that have had no acknowledgement of small business and their contributions to CSR and philanthropy and volunteerism. On the flip side, this past week, the National Small Business Week Conference, had no inclusion of CSR or philanthropy on their agenda.

    At a local level I have been working with a community foundation, local business community organizations, and with various "shop local" movements, to impress upon the local business community that giving is good for business. While there are many businesses that are giving back, it is hardly a trend.
    My sense is that many small businesses are in survival mode, think that philanthropy and social responsibility begins with the big "C" which means the "big guys, and do not see the value not only of giving, but of coalescing as a group to create more impact.

    The more examples of big business like Disney and Pepsi and small ones like the Space Store, the more businesses of all sizes will begin to understand the many benefits of giving back to the community, and future gathering will bring everyone to talk about working towards social benefit.
    Thanks,

    Lalia Helmer
    www.businessthatcares.blogspot...

  • pamelahawley

    Dayna, thank you for this post about an increasing trend towards corporate social responsibility. It’s wonderful to see this move towards increased meaning.

    CSR definitely creates a win-win situation for everyone – the companies, the nonprofits, the people being served. It’s also a positive for employees, especially ones who have the opportunity to volunteer through their company’s CSR program. Volunteering should be a key part of any CSR program. As such, it helps companies enhance their corporate brand image, improves employee attraction/retention as well as client attraction/retention, and establishes local buy-in, all of which helps a company’s bottom line while also serving the community.

    I’ve had the opportunity to witness these positive results through UniversalGiving. We offer a customized service helping Fortune 500 companies manage their global CSR Programs. UniversalGiving Corporate handles the strategy, operations, and NGO vetting.

    Working with companies interested in giving back, UniversalGiving Corporate focuses on two bottom lines: one of the community, and one of corporate. For the community, we want the most effective projects receiving funds, and more money being given to them. For the corporations, we want to help increase their global brand, increase employee retention, and increase product adoption. We do this by the establishment of right relationships between a corporation and a well-matched, vetted NGO partner. These companies are committed to both profitability and social good; we are committed to helping them achieve this dual goal. And working together—the world benefits.

    Sincerely,
    Pamela Hawley
    Founder and CEO
    UniversalGiving

    phawley@universalgiving.org
    www.universalgiving.org

    Living and Giving blog
    www.pamelahawley.wordpress.com

    UniversalGiving Corporate
    http://www.universalgiving.org...

  • pamelahawley

    Dayna, thank you for this post about an increasing trend towards corporate social responsibility. It’s wonderful to see this move towards increased meaning.

    CSR definitely creates a win-win situation for everyone – the companies, the nonprofits, the people being served. It’s also a positive for employees, especially ones who have the opportunity to volunteer through their company’s CSR program. Volunteering should be a key part of any CSR program. As such, it helps companies enhance their corporate brand image, improves employee attraction/retention as well as client attraction/retention, and establishes local buy-in, all of which helps a company’s bottom line while also serving the community.

    I’ve had the opportunity to witness these positive results through UniversalGiving. We offer a customized service helping Fortune 500 companies manage their global CSR Programs. UniversalGiving Corporate handles the strategy, operations, and NGO vetting.

    Working with companies interested in giving back, UniversalGiving Corporate focuses on two bottom lines: one of the community, and one of corporate. For the community, we want the most effective projects receiving funds, and more money being given to them. For the corporations, we want to help increase their global brand, increase employee retention, and increase product adoption. We do this by the establishment of right relationships between a corporation and a well-matched, vetted NGO partner. These companies are committed to both profitability and social good; we are committed to helping them achieve this dual goal. And working together—the world benefits.

    Sincerely,
    Pamela Hawley
    Founder and CEO
    UniversalGiving

    phawley@universalgiving.org
    www.universalgiving.org

    Living and Giving blog
    www.pamelahawley.wordpress.com

    UniversalGiving Corporate
    http://www.universalgiving.org...

  • pamelahawley

    Dyana, thank you for this post about an increasing trend towards corporate social responsibility. It’s wonderful to see this move towards increased meaning.

    CSR definitely creates a win-win situation for everyone – the companies, the nonprofits, the people being served. It’s also a positive for employees, especially ones who have the opportunity to volunteer through their company’s CSR program. Volunteering should be a key part of any CSR program. As such, it helps companies enhance their corporate brand image, improves employee attraction/retention as well as client attraction/retention, and establishes local buy-in, all of which helps a company’s bottom line while also serving the community.

    I’ve had the opportunity to witness these positive results through UniversalGiving. We offer a customized service helping Fortune 500 companies manage their global CSR Programs. UniversalGiving Corporate handles the strategy, operations, and NGO vetting.

    Working with companies interested in giving back, UniversalGiving Corporate focuses on two bottom lines: one of the community, and one of corporate. For the community, we want the most effective projects receiving funds, and more money being given to them. For the corporations, we want to help increase their global brand, increase employee retention, and increase product adoption. We do this by the establishment of right relationships between a corporation and a well-matched, vetted NGO partner. These companies are committed to both profitability and social good; we are committed to helping them achieve this dual goal. And working together—the world benefits.

    Sincerely,
    Pamela Hawley
    Founder and CEO
    UniversalGiving

    phawley@universalgiving.org
    www.universalgiving.org

    Living and Giving blog
    www.pamelahawley.wordpress.com

    UniversalGiving Corporate
    http://www.universalgiving.org...

  • pamelahawley

    Dayna, thank you for this post about an increasing trend towards corporate social responsibility. It’s wonderful to see this move towards increased meaning.

    CSR definitely creates a win-win situation for everyone – the companies, the nonprofits, the people being served. It’s also a positive for employees, especially ones who have the opportunity to volunteer through their company’s CSR program. Volunteering should be a key part of any CSR program. As such, it helps companies enhance their corporate brand image, improves employee attraction/retention as well as client attraction/retention, and establishes local buy-in, all of which helps a company’s bottom line while also serving the community.

    I’ve had the opportunity to witness these positive results through UniversalGiving. We offer a customized service helping Fortune 500 companies manage their global CSR Programs. UniversalGiving Corporate handles the strategy, operations, and NGO vetting.

    Working with companies interested in giving back, UniversalGiving Corporate focuses on two bottom lines: one of the community, and one of corporate. For the community, we want the most effective projects receiving funds, and more money being given to them. For the corporations, we want to help increase their global brand, increase employee retention, and increase product adoption. We do this by the establishment of right relationships between a corporation and a well-matched, vetted NGO partner. These companies are committed to both profitability and social good; we are committed to helping them achieve this dual goal. And working together—the world benefits.

    Sincerely,
    Pamela Hawley
    Founder and CEO
    UniversalGiving

    phawley@universalgiving.org
    www.universalgiving.org

    Living and Giving blog
    www.pamelahawley.wordpress.com

    UniversalGiving Corporate
    http://www.universalgiving.org...