Tuesday, December 22, 2009



Today's (Wednesday, December 23) NPR "Morning Edition" included a twisted piece about CRM, cause related marketing. It presented the idea that when a nonprofit organization sells it soul to a corporation, the latter is hoping to improve its public karmic account.
Why is this "news", Mr. van Winkle?

( http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=121718372#commentBlock)

Quoting Carol Cone, professed to be the founder of CRM,
"Businesses must show their humanity," she says. "It's no longer a 'nice to do' — it's a 'have to do.' "

Your humble Holy Beggar been in the nonprofit organization fund development trenches too long to find this even good cocktail party dribble. The reporter misses the point by taking account of corporate citizen's ethics.
While the notion "it is more blessed to give than to receive" is popular among those of us with a soul intact, corporations don't' worry about their karma. Corporations have never been about "nice"; it's all bottom line for their stockholders.

The story headline begs the notion of 'selfish giving' with the query, "Does It Count If You Get In Return?"

Count as what? Charity? Does it matter as long as there is money flowing from the haves to the haven'ts.

The Holy Beggar can assure all that it counts ... always counts ... big ... on both sides of the relationship.

Savvy nonprofits are happy to get funding from anywhere that is legit and in sync with its mission ... the marketing department, the CEO's discretionary stash, corporate employees' charity funds and matching funds. Back in the good "old" days of the ERA / feminist movement, Playboy Foundation / Enterprises was very happy to give money to women's causes ... but taking it was a matter of much conversation. The NPR story explained that Macy's is hooking up with Make A Wish Foundation; nice alliterative play.

Gone are the promises of a table for 10 at an annual dinner (and the back cover full page ad in the program book).
In the most recent economic "down-turn", corporate budgets are being cut from brand hyping public relations, with a small balance redirected to product marketing, the latter promising more measurable outcomes, e.g. units sold. Scrooge's transformed largess in Dicken's fabled tome seems a higher level of consciousness when compared to recent corporate CRM targeted ads in The New Yorker.

The challenge to my NPO beggar colleagues is what to give as a thank-you gift to the corporate suits who have everything by the end of the year. The period between Thanksgiving and December 31 is holiest of begging holidays.

Your humble Holy Beggar, taking stock of her still unemployed socio-economic situation would welcome corporate sponsorship. How about utilizing the HB "likeness" to headline an endorsement campaign. In exchange, the HB is wiling to give out coupons for discounted merchandise for each donation placed in the begging cup from December 25 through the 31.

Silent Night?
Don't be silly. Bragging rights! Shout it from the roof tops.

The Holy Beggar wishes all a good night anyway.

And remember,

No matter what,
Don't forget to ask for the money.

As I said, it's all fine when operations coffers are being filled and budgets met. But, what's more troubling is that once the corporations sink a sizable chunk of change into a single NPO, few others are able to get in on the generosity. It's especially sad when a well-run, impacting small NPO serving the neighbors of the HDQ can't muster up enough entitlements to warrant significant support.

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