As an organization, it is often an important part of the organization’s mission to give back
to the community in one way or another. There are typically countless opportunities available
to any given organization based on requests for donations from consumers who support various
organizations. However, instead of blindly picking and choosing organizations to support or
what donations to make, organizations should thoughtfully pursue their philanthropic efforts in
a way that will prove beneficial for all parties involved. This is known as strategic philanthropy.
Strategic philanthropy aims to find the overlap between social and economic benefit (Carroll,
and Buchholtz, 2009). In other words, it is combining an organization’s marketing goals with the
desire or initiative to help others in the community.
Without strategic philanthropy, organizations tend to give donations of gift certificates,
may sponsor a local team, or purchase ads in a local event program or school yearbook.
However, the donations that are made by the organization do little to actually promote the
organization. Additionally, there are few instances where the donations made and the promotion
they offer, actually align with the marketing goals or efforts of the organization. For instance,
a traditional philanthropic effort by organizations is to offer gift certificates. While there is
some promotional value associated with a gift certificate, it is minimal. The advertising the
non-profit does that includes the name of the organization provides some promotion, and
additional promotion is done by prompting the individual who receives the gift certificate to
make a purchase at the organization. This means that the promotional value associated with
such a donation reaches a small market and often does not support the marketing goals of the
Strategic philanthropy, on the other hand, requires the organization to put more thought
and consideration into what non-profits they work with and what they are donating. Because
strategic philanthropy is focused upon combining philanthropic efforts and marketing efforts,
decisions regarding donations must be made so that they support both efforts. Engaging in
strategic philanthropy does not mean that an organization must stop giving out donations, but
instead means that the types of donations should be adjusted so that they are more aligned with
the marketing efforts of the organization.
There are many different avenues for donations that an organization could pursue that
would be considered strategic philanthropy, given that they support the organization’s overall
marketing efforts. For example, if an organization near a university is approached by a student
group about a donation for an upcoming event or program, the organization may want to offer
an alternative. If the organization is a restaurant, they may want to offer the student group a
percentage of proceeds from a particular night of business. This could be a total percentage of
sales, a specific dollar amount for every coupon collected within a certain period, or a percentage
of sales of a particular item. This is beneficial for both the restaurant and the student group. If
the restaurant had simply donated a gift certificate, their marketing efforts may have reached
those attending the student group’s event and the individual who received the gift certificate.
However, with the alternative donation program that the restaurant has offered to the student
group, promotion efforts will be made by the student group to get customers to the restaurant
over a certain period or on a certain day. This increases the amount of exposure and publicity for
the restaurant that would not have been possible with a simple gift certificate.
Another example is by providing a specific product for the non-profit to sell to raise
funds or producing a product in conjunction with a non-profit organization. A prime example
of this is seen between General Mills and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. General Mills has
made a strategic philanthropic relationship with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure by operating
the “Save Lids to Save Lives” program. This program is only conducted with General Mills
products such as Yoplait, Ocean Spray, Green Giant, etc. General Mills has made the effort to
change select packaging to include pink tops and specialized codes to be redeemed online for a
certain period of time. For every code that is redeemed, General Mills makes a 10-cent donation
to Susan G. Komen, in addition to a separate donation made by General Mills. This is beneficial
for all parties involved. Most consumers are familiar with Susan G. Komen’s iconic pink logo
and the pink breast cancer awareness ribbon. By including this on their packaging, General Mills
may be persuading a consumer to purchase their product over another comparable product. This
would increase the revenues brought in by General Mills. Additionally, the more codes that are
redeemed, the greater the donation to Susan G. Komen (to a specified limit), which benefits the
non-profit (“Participating,” 2012). Finally, the consumer also wins as they purchase the product
that they need and feel that they are making a difference since a portion of their purchase is
contributed to the breast cancer awareness organization.
In the end, the use of strategic philanthropy is important to capitalizing on marketing
efforts. The traditional methods of philanthropy utilized by organizations often hold minimal
return. However, by implementing strategic philanthropy and making smart donations return
for the organization can be maximized while still helping the community and non-profit
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