Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Strategic Philanthropy and Building Your Brand

I had the opportunity last week to serve in a consultative role for a corporation looking to get more strategic with their philanthropic activities. The issue sparking the conversation is not uncommon: companies put dollars and/or volunteers into their communities but don't seem to get the level of expected visibility for their efforts. Why? Most likely because they aren't making the kind of impact that is going to get attention by the media (which, let's face it - drives visibility by the community). In this case, the company was doing some great things, but they were spreading out their volunteer efforts and donations without a true plan in place. As the CEO of this company realized during our conversation - you have to put together a business plan for strategic philanthropy just like any other business initiative.

Being deliberate with the allocation of your community relations resources can positively impact both your branding and outreach. Developing a plan to align your business mission with where you'll place your employee volunteer hours and dollars can make all the difference - and develop an interesting media angle. In the technology arena? Bring volunteers into a local nonprofit to develop or enhance their technology plan. In the biotech industry? Donate time and dollars to build a new science lab at your local high school or college. You meet your community mission by giving back - while also promoting your business line/brand.

The same can go for individuals. Are you volunteering at mutiple nonprofits without a plan behind it? If you want your personal brand to reflect a certain skill/trait, then consider volunteer placements that will help you build on that brand.

Selfish thinking? Not at all...just strategic!

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