How NOT to do corporate social responsiblity

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Image Credit: zaveqna

I got an email today from a company looking to support nonprofit organizations.

Their first question of me:

Do you have suggestions about how I could go about finding non-profit groups in British Columbia that are looking for new funding sources?

Uh, toss a rock and you’re likely to hit one.

Their (not-so-mindblowing) plan is for nonprofit organizations to promote this companies members, and when the nonprofit’s supporters frequent these businesses, the nonprofit gets 3% of the value of the transaction. However, in order to get the 3%, the supporter would have had to print off and bring in a special form or make a booking with the companies through a special website.

Here was my response to their inquiry. Was it even worth a response?

Hi <name>,

I would say all nonprofit organizations in the province are looking for new funding sources. If there is a nonprofit in your community that you think is worthwhile, ask them.

However, having reviewed your site, I would not recommend this program to nonprofit organizations, as efforts directed to promoting the <member businesses> (which only give a return of $15 per person per year as per your estimates) would not be as valuable as efforts directed to promoting the organization itself, resulting in donations directly to the organization.

While supporting the nonprofit sector could be commended, requiring specific actions like printing a form from the website or booking through a unique website will likely result in people bypassing the fundraising requirements – resulting in business for your members, but not money for the nonprofit. If you want to truly support community organizations, don’t add strings. When you do [add strings], it’s a very thinly disguised effort to just make money for your own company.