moneygiftThere’s a trend these days in corporate charitable giving, and it’s being led by the biggest of the big guys. Take Pepsi, Starbucks and Disney.

Pepsi’s Refresh Project is a social media/philanthropy hybrid that funds important initiatives from improving schools to building parks and playgrounds, and supporting new business ideas. In fact, in 2010, Pepsi gave up its Super Bowl ad and allowed small budding companies to advertise in its place. Pepsi defines the Refresh Project as “The New Pepsi Challenge.” In the process of helping causes through millions of dollars of donations, they attract millions of fans to their social media sites to vote on which projects get funded. Everyone wins.

Starbucks kicked off its Global Month of Service because they are “committed to helping create thriving neighborhoods” wherever they do business, and that they can use their “scale to be a catalyst for positive change.” Their goal with the Global Month of Service is to support 2,000 service projects and give 200,000 hours of volunteer time from their employees and customers around the world.

In 2010, Disney launched “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” in which they ask people to give a day of volunteer service at a participating organization and then receive a free, one-day admission ticket to a Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort theme park.  Again, this is a win-win-win for the company, the community, and Disney fans.

Likewise, for many years, we’ve been creating community support plans for our clients. This has enabled our clients’ companies to show their commitment to the community, bring their company missions to life by supporting organizations in their areas of interest, develop relationships with community service organizations and their constituents, get their customers involved on a charitable level, and occasionally get exposure for their gifts (in the case of event sponsorships). Of course the public wins, too because the organizations that receive the donations help meet the needs of the community.

Community support plans work well for any sized company because they can justify directing marketing budgets toward philanthropy. Companies that don’t have the funds to give charitable donations can always give their time through volunteerism or donate products or services. Harnessing this spirit of giving is an opportunity for any company. So give away.

UPDATE: Along the same lines of this post, check out the great idea, Hot Rocks for Humanity.

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