Much like customer relations, community relations are an invaluable source of support for a company.
As PR professionals, we seek to build positive relationships within our communities so that when a crisis does occur, our organization or company’s reputation can remain intact.
Target, for example, does a lot of good things. They donate to schools and they support various movements that should help improve the lives of their employees and their communities. A few years ago, when hackers did whatever magic hackers do and stole credit card information, people didn’t just stop going to Target. Some people may have stayed away until it was deemed “safe,” but Target still made a profit and their reputation didn’t suffer.
According to my textbook, there are a few factors that corporate philanthropy should consider:
- Do no harm
- Communicate with the recipient
- Target contributions toward specific areas
- Make contributions according to statements of corporate policy
- Plan within the budget
- Inform all persons concerned
- Do a follow-up
- Remember that more than money may be needed
When I looked up corporate philanthropy, I found this article that talks about five companies who do a great job with corporate philanthropy. Google made the list. This shouldn’t really surprise me once I thought about it, as Google is supposed to be a great place to work and it makes sense that if it’s a great place to work, the people in charge really know what they’re doing. I’m a supporter of Google and I don’t think I’ve ever had a particularly bad experience with it. The article basically explained that Google has a lot of different organizations it partners with and gives to globally. The article also mentions that these programs wouldn’t be successful without employees willing to volunteer or donate.
I think the last three points are the ones that most people forget. Informing all persons means informing your employees too. Clearly Google does that, as the article says employees donated over $21 million and almost 80,000 hours. If a company wants to get involved in some community service project, they have to get the word out.
Following up is always a difficult thing to do. Once a project is completed, what’s the point in seeing how it went? Someone, somewhere, was helped somehow. Isn’t that enough? No. Doing a follow-up benefits the future of these programs. Knowing how much you spent (time or money) on an event and the outcome can help in the planning and efficiency of these programs.
Lastly, remembering that money isn’t always the solution is vital. Google and its employees must understand that, as they donated their time as well as their money. Some non profit organizations have the money for projects and don’t have the manpower. That’s not to say that donating money isn’t helpful, but it isn’t always enough. It’s easy to sit behind a computer at a desk and click a few buttons and donate. It takes more to go physically put your hands in the dirt (or paint or food or whatever else) because it takes time*. Companies who get their employees excited about volunteering will probably have a more successful corporate philanthropy program.
Understanding how corporate philanthropy works is important because companies can’t exist in a vacuum. They exist in communities and that community controls the reputation of the company, which in turn keeps the company in business.
*The term for this is slacktivism and here’s a post written about it by one of my wonderful classmates, Katie.