“In almost any gift-giving situation, there is some expectation of return, whether is it a tax deduction, a named building, or an enhanced reputation. That’s why anonymous gift giving is so rare. Giving always occurs within a social context that makes a gift reciprocal in nature. Perhaps corporations that give with some expectation of return are only being more strategic and explicit than predecessors who gave with equal expectations but said less about it – or who gave without planning. For a gift to be genuinely altruistic in nature, that is, for it to demonstrate other-centered love, it must have benefit to the recipient as its primary motive and purpose, but not necessarily its only motivation or purpose. Therefore, strategic or “smart” giving may be regarded as ethical.”
from: Media Ethics: Cases and Moral Reasoning. Christians, Clifford. 2001.
The statement above describes corporate philanthropy, which is a manifestation of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Corporate philanthropy is the donation of funds, products and services to various causes. The organization’s public relations department handles this giving, which can range from providing uniforms to a local soccer team to a multi-million dollar donation to a university. I do believe the above statement is an accurate description and analysis of strategic giving. A company should give for building business, brand equity, and your stakeholder relations not for publicity.
Home Depot. Volunteers (employees) use materials from their stores to build homes for Habitat for Humanity. Is an example of strategic giving because they are donating there time and products to cause that will enhance the community. This benefits Home Depot because it will positively add to their Brand Image while still helping society and giving a gift. A Hilton and Hill survey found that 76 percent of Americans claim to take corporate citizenship into consideration when buying products.
Consider Exxon/Mobile. The corporate logo features a Tiger, and the company donates large sums to help protect tigers and their environment. This is also an example of strategic giving. They show they care about a larger cause and want to give back.
I think almost all large companies give strategically, Take a look at the Coca-Cola company, which is the world’s largest non-alcoholic beverage company. They provide a full sustainability report on all of their products and are the founders of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. The Coca−Cola Scholars Foundation supports over 1,400 college students each year, with annual scholarships of $3.4 million through two nationally recognized programs on behalf of the Coca−Cola System.
Here are some websites that discuss using corporate philanthropy as a PR strategy: