Is the era of attaching a cause to all of our purchases really the best way for companies to prove they care about the world?
Or would it would be better to go back to a time when companies just created foundations to give their money away? Not so long ago, companies participated in philanthropy by donating money to their favorite charity or by giving in-kind donations. They gave because it was important to the company, it was important to the company’s CEO (or his wife; or her husband!), or it projected goodwill and bolstered corporate reputations. Today we have cause marketing, ethical branding, conscious consumerism, and about a dozen other terms to describe how the marketplace is used to generate charitable donations. While good marketing, they are not an efficient means to generate funding for most charities: These initiatives tend to do far more to boost the corporation’s reputation and bottom line than to help the charitable concern. More broadly, as I discuss in my book Compassion Inc.: How Corporate America Blurs the Line Between What We Buy, Who We Are and Those We Help, these marketing campaigns allow corporations to decide the causes that should get the most funding based on their market potential–a skewed method for determining social policy. This corporate strategy has become so ubiquitous that it has morphed into marketing wallpaper–it’s there, but we just don’t see it. Before the cause marketing gravy train stops, and I believe it will (Carol Cone, the mother of cause marketing, pronounced it dead more than a year ago), let’s ensure that structures are in place to enable sustained donations for charities and positively integrated philanthropy within corporations that will achieve the same goals. Let me give you three dos and one don’t.
via FastCoExist – Mara Einstein
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