How to Use Philanthropy as a Means of Marketing

In today’s competitive market place, it’s becoming harder and harder to promote one’s name, brand, or business. One unique and underused marketing strategy involves making a sizeable charitable donation.

If that sounds a little unethical, it’s not. There’s nothing with capitalizing on the opportunity to self-promote and do some good in the world­­­ at the same time—two birds, one stone.

No, seriously, it’s done all the time. In fact, it’s proven to be an effective strategy for celebrities, politicians, athletes, and business leaders alike.

Take, for example, this headline featured in The New York Times: Chance the Rapper Donates $1 Million to Chicago’s Public Schools. Is Chance the Rapper legitimately passionate about education and the arts? Absolutely! But was he also doing it as a means to garner positive press around his name? Probably. But again, there’s nothing wrong with that.

As a general rule of thumb, the larger the donation, the more press it’s going to get. But in some cases, a person or a company may not need to make national headlines. This is especially true of localized businesses whose target audience resides in the immediate area. In that case, a $20,000-$50,000 donation is enough to make the local papers or news stations.

But if the goal is to reach a wider audience, the donation will need to be substantially larger. How large? At least $100,000. But there are other factors to consider as well.

The type of charity that one gives to matters just as much (if not more) than the amount of the donation. Going back to the example of Chance the Rapper, his donation was particularly noteworthy due to his own personal background.

Chance the Rapper, whose real name is Chancelor Bennett, is a Chicago native who grew up in the West Chatham neighborhood. He decided to give to schools that are located in financially ailing districts—schools that coincidentally have a lot of minority students. Being African American, his donation made for a great story about how race intersects with money, education, and access to resources. That’s why the news of his donation made headlines.

Businesses looking to promote their services should seek to emulate this type of philanthropy. The best way to ensure that the donation will capture the media’s attention is to look at it through the eyes of the press. In other words, businesses should ask themselves this key question: is this a story that is engaging, interesting, and worth reading?


Omidyar Network Dedicates $114 Million to Fighting Fake News

The plague of fake news over the last few years came to a head in 2016, between Brexit and the US Presidential Election. Since Trump’s victory in November, many Americans have been decrying fake news and looking for ways to improve the situation. And they’re not alone.

According to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, “less than 50 percent of the populations in two-thirds of the 28 nations surveyed trust mainstream businesses, government, media, and organizations to do what is right. Media institutions, specifically, are distrusted in 82 percent of the countries.” That’s not a good sign for the state of journalism.

That’s why the Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm launched by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, has dedicated $114 million over the next three years to “strengthening independent media and investigative journalism, combating misinformation and hate speech, and enabling citizens to better engage with government entities.” The money will support projects around the world, especially nonprofit news organizations and journalistic watchdogs.

Joined by a number of supporters and partners, the initiative has already awarded $4.5 million to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, as well as undisclosed sums to Alianza Latinoamaericana para la Technología Cívica and the Anti-Defamation League. The independent News Integrity Initiative, run by the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism was recently awarded $14 million. That group is focused on “helping individuals make informed judgements about the news they read and share online.”

It appears that nonprofit news initiatives may be the solution to fake news, since the problem is often caused by advertisers. Even more traditional news organizations, strapped for cash, have seen eroding ethical standards as traditional print journalism struggles to remain relevant in the digital age and retain advertising revenue. By removing the need for advertisers, journalists could remain independent of the profit motive, allowing them to report the news, without having to report to shareholders.


NPR Receives Major Donations to Expand Its Coverage and Revitalize Its Programming

NPR LogoNational Public Radio (NPR) is a nonprofit membership media organization that exists as a national syndicator to a massive network of public radio stations in the U.S. The organization is funded with the help of public and private donations, and relies heavily on the generosity of the public. NPR is a renowned source for high quality storytelling, and vigorous reporting.

Recently, NPR received a massive donation from four major foundations, three NPR trustees, as well as other private donors, which totaled $17 million. The funds are reportedly going to help the national nonprofit broadcaster expand its news coverage in various areas, as well as improve its media platform. According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, much of the donation will go towards NPR’s “listening platform,” which will “aggregate material from its national programming and from member stations and tailor it for individual listeners based on their location and preferences.” As NPR spokeswoman Anna Christopher Bross explains, “What Pandora did for music, we’re hoping to do for spoken word and for news.”

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is reportedly giving $5.4 million, which will go towards the new listening platform, the organization itself, and member stations. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also offered a generous donation, as did the Wallace Foundation and trustees and their spouses Paul and Heather Haaga, William and Lia Poorvu, and Howard and Fredericka Stevenson. Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson also reportedly donated $25,000 to the organization, a generous sum that was conditional upon 750 people signing up or renewing their memberships. Happily, the condition was met, allotting NPR even more funding, as well as many new memberships.

For more information about NPR, visit the organization’s official website.


Prominent People in Philanthropy: Jenny Farrelly

Jenny Farrelly
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Jenny Farrelly is a successful businesswoman who is dedicated to helping young people move up in the world. With a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, Farrelly knows how far a good education can take a person.

Her education has taken her to KKR, the private equity giant led by co-founders Henry Kravis and George Roberts. Jenny Farrelly is a member of the Global Public Affairs team and key media contact for KKR. Her education was specialized for work in finance and corporate communications, and she has worked for other notable corporations like Edelman’s Corporate & Financial Communications practice, Citigroup, and Stifel Nicolas.

Jenny Farrelly’s résumé is enviable, but through her involvement in programs like the Young Women’s Leadership Network (YWLN) and Student Sponsor Partners (SSP), she has proven that she’s dedicated to helping others do the same.

To read the entire profile on Jenny Farrelly, visit here.

Profiles Resources

Thomas Uger Profile

Thomas Uger
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One business executive who is doing big things in the philanthropy world is Thomas Uger, co-head of KKR’s Media and Communications industry team in North America. Uger received his B.A. from the prestigious Dartmouth College, and since then he’s kept himself active in the philanthropy scene.

The Dutchess Land Conservancy has a mission to protect wildlife habitats, forests, water, and open space in the county from being developed or damaged. It does so by gaining private property easements through donation or purchase. A landowner in Dutchess County, Thomas Uger made a significant donation the Dutchess Land Conservancy—125 acres, which includes a rare circumnatural bog lake home to many rare creatures and plants.

Also interested in preserving arts and culture, Thomas Uger served as a board member for the Katharsis Theater Company, which is currently on artistic hiatus. A classic theater group, Katharsis has put on productions of classic tales for contemporary audiences, aiming for dramatic interpretations of time-tested stories that hold universal truths, conditions, and experiences for all audiences.

As if his position at KKR didn’t keep him busy enough, Thomas Uger is also on the board of trustees for WNET. A non-profit organization, WNET is the “premier public media provider” in NYC. It is parent to two other public television stations and also hosts several digital services, websites, and more. It is governed by a board of 38 trustees that meets regularly throughout the year.

WNET is a major producer of media on local, national, and international levels, and has won several awards for its content—which includes programs covering arts and cluture, news, public affairs, science, natural history, documentaries, and children’s programming. WNET also hosts the annual Celebration of Teaching & Learning, a professional development conference for the world’s top educators, thinkers, and practitioners.