Categories
Advice

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?

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Donation News

Trump to Donate His Presidential Salary to Charity

Back in November of 2016, newly elected President Donald Trump said that he would not be taking the $400,000 a year presidential salary. His reason for doing so being that he’s already a wealthy man. How wealthy? According to Forbes, Donald Trump is worth a whopping $3.7 billion.

Makes sense; $400,000 means nothing for a man of that worth. But it would certainly mean a lot to nonprofits and charities that are working towards the greater good. And that’s precisely why Trump plans to donate his salary to these organizations.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer made the announcement this past Tuesday. During a press briefing, Spicer told reporters that the president would donate all of his federal earnings come the end of 2017. But that’s not all. Spicer also had a very unusual—and very unexpected—request of the press.

“The president’s intention right now is to donate his salary at the end of the year, and he has kindly asked that you all help determine where that goes. The way that we can avoid scrutiny is to let the press corps determine where it should go,” Spicer said to a room full of chuckles.

Yep, you read that right. Trump wants the press to help decide where that money goes. Remember that old adage about being careful what you wish for?

Well, the press already has a couple of ideas in mind, one of which is for Mr. Trump to donate to The Committee to Protect Journalists—a world-wide campaign dedicated to advocating for freedom of the press. Other reporters have suggested that the president fund a journalism scholarship.

The overall reaction surrounding the announcement has been quite humorous. But Spicer wants to remind the public that President Trump is indeed committed to his promise.

“In all seriousness, I think his view is he made a pledge to the American people he wants to donate it to charity and he’d love your help to determine where it should go.”

Categories
Advice

The Double-Edged Sword of a Celebrity Spokesperson

A celebrity spokesperson can be a huge boon for a nonprofit organization, but on the other hand, they can also be a huge roadblock. Take Tom Hiddleston, for example. Hiddleston recently earned the wrath of the Internet for expressing pride that a show he worked on was appreciated by medics from Doctors Without Borders.

Twitter users accused the actor of being a “white savior” because he was trying to bring attention to humanitarian efforts in the South Sudan. The whole debacle was taken out of context and blown way out of proportion. But that’s not the point.

Because he now has some negative press about him, so does the United Nations Children’s Fund (the nonprofit organization that he was serving as spokesman for). It goes to show that high-profile allies can and will be criticized for everything they do, and any affiliated organizations will have to suffer those consequences as well.

Angelina Jolie is another good example. She has done a great deal of good work with the United Nations since 2001. However, if social media worked then like it does now, that career would have been cut short because at some point she probably would have said or done something that the Internet could jump all over.

Social media is a powerful tool, but it’s far too often used to bully people, famous or otherwise. When a nonprofit teams up with a celebrity, they have to carefully consider what kinds of social media fallout they might have to face.

While there are some celebrities who are obviously not worth working with, there are others who would make for excellent spokespeople. The downside is that it’s impossible to predict the future and what could happen down the line at an awards show or red carpet event.

In considering whether or not to partner up with a celebrity, it’s important for nonprofits to have an eye on social media, which is where any little mistake is going develop into a full-blown scandal. The cult of celebrity status is much more fragile now that news spreads like wildfire. It’s important to think ahead, and be ready for “damage control” should something go wrong.

Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore at Flickr Creative Commons. 

Categories
Profiles

Lady Elisabeth Murdoch Remembered

LADY ELISABETH MURDOCH
IMG: via theage.com.au

Born in 1909 in Melbourne, Australia, Elisabeth Murdoch (nee Greene) was 103 when she passed away. Even as a young woman, she volunteered to knit clothes for babies in a nearby hospital, helping those who couldn’t help themselves. When she was 18, she met and later married 42-year-old Keith Murdoch, with whom she had four children.  She would go on to become Lady Murdoch, and would eventually be involved in her community as a philanthropist for over fifty years.

On Wednesday, December 5, 2012, she passed away.  Read more about Lady Elisabeth Murdoch and what she did for philanthropy throughout her life on her Philanthropic People profile.