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In 2012 Corporate Giving is No Longer a Business Footnote
By: Elaine Reed
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In years past, corporations made donations both locally and nationally and really didn’t make a big deal about it. It was just part of business: a tax write-off, a way to grease the wheels with communities where they operated. Sometimes they would publish a list, sometimes they wouldn’t. Sometimes the charities they donated to were near and dear to someone at the company. Sometimes they were just well known with a decent track record. Those days are coming to an end.

Corporations are still donating to charities, but now they’re taking a completely different approach. Rather than seeing it as just a thing they do as part of the administrative side of their business, they are weaving it into the very fabric of their culture.

Today businesses are choosing the charities they donate to by how their values lines up, how much good they do, and whether they can incorporate their donations into the day-to-day life of the organization. For these companies, charitable activities are not only part of the corporate ID, they are included in messaging and branding efforts as well.

This is simply good business sense. It gives potential customers more insight into who the company is and how much they impact their communities. Plus, it attracts passionate customers. When someone is passionate about a cause and finds a company that also supports that cause, not only are they more likely to do business with that company, they are more likely to recommend the business to others and less likely to ever leave the company. The charity becomes their primary concern with the business partnership coming in a close second.

Today’s marketing tools make it easy to include causes into corporate branding efforts.
  • Charity-specific blogs linked to the main site are an easy way for companies to go into detail about how they are living their charitable values every day.
  • Businesses with a Facebook page can develop a page specifically dedicated to educating their fans about their cause and what they do to support it.
  • Twitter is a perfect medium for businesses that are hands-on with their causes. Fundraising events can be live tweeted and contests and campaigns can become viral very quickly, drawing more qualified prospects to the company.
  • Specific groups or circles can be formed on LinkedIn and Google+ to attract and inspire other supporters of the cause.
  • Finally, companies with some extra IT dollars can create widgets or apps to keep customers up-to-date on their activities.
This trend of weaving a business and cause together, or shared value, is an important one to follow. As consumers continue to become more socially aware, they want to build philanthropy into their everyday lives. The easiest way to do that is by how they spend their money. Companies that let people know up front how they give back are well positioned to capture more costumers for the long term.


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About the Author
Elaine Reed is a marketing professional with heavy emphasis on e-commerce and Internet marketing. She blogs regularly on her website and tweets often.
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