How Do You Define Corporate Giving?

Many corporations, if not all, have some sort of institutionalized corporate philanthropy or giving program. They have instituted these programs to address social issues of interest to them, and they run the gamut from improving health to ending hunger, from ending domestic violence and child abuse to improving reading skills. The areas of interest are as varied as are the companies that support them. While many in the corporate sector have done incredible work in the area of corporate responsibility our sector (Hispanic advertising and public relations agencies) need to do better as corporate givers and role models for social responsibility.

Don’t get me wrong — some of us do participate by providing in-kind services, helping with advertising campaigns either independently or through the Ad Council, volunteerism, and/or assisting non-profit organizations with marketing and communications. That is all worthwhile. However, the disconnect comes when we look at support from a purely financial perspective. Rarely do agencies contribute actual dollars and cents to organizations that support our community.

As contributions budgets get smaller and fund-raising becomes more difficult our perspective on giving needs to change. If we want to be blunt about it: there are many organizations providing needed services to our community, the very same community that we help sell goods and services to. So, the question is: why shouldn’t we help out? The answer is simple: there is no reason not to help and many reasons why we should.

The former chairman of a large corporation was widely quoted as saying, “Our business activities must make social sense, and our social activities must make business sense.” So, how do we get to that point?

The bottom line is that many of these non-profit organizations provide services that help strengthen our community one person at a time. A strong community equals a stronger Hispanic market. And a stronger Hispanic market…well, you get the picture. And, if you don’t like that reason, then do it because it’s the right thing to do; that you get a feeling of accomplishment that is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Because you’re helping people who otherwise would have to do without.

I’m not suggesting that you go out and try to build up a foundation with millions of dollars in assets. I’m being realistic. But, if you’re able (depending on your size and profit margins, of course) set aside some dollars to go to support an area that is important to you and/or your clients. It could go to support an immunization program in the barrio, provide supplies to a soup kitchen in Old Town, or it could go to an immigration or a literacy center to help those most in need. Whatever group or organization you decide to support, whatever level of support you can give it will make a difference.

We all use the demographics to lay the groundwork for why corporations should advertise to the Hispanic consumer; we all conduct segmentation studies to show exactly who and why they are the target; we delve deep into the psychographics to give a full picture. Well, let’s help change the picture a little. Let’s really make a difference in our community. After all, as the saying goes, it’s only money.

Carmen A. Sepúlveda is president and CEO of Act-é Marketing Solutions, Inc., a full-service, Hispanic- and women-owned marketing communications agency based in New York.

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