Load of …

There must be a term of art for the scenario where a corporate sponsor uses a charitable activity in such a noxious manner that the charity becomes entirely a vile facade for marketing.  It can obviously be quite quantitative.  If the firm spends N units of cash on marketing their affiliation with the charity for every one unit they actually donate to the charity the entire exercise is a fraud.  But we need a label for this bogosity.  “Pink tides of hope,” or something.  Then a list.  It’s so offensive.

8 thoughts on “Load of …

  1. Eleanor

    only offensive until you are the struggling charity receiving the money.

    What really gets me is this current project Chase is doing – where people vote on fb to give away money to the nonprofit of their choice. It looks great, until you realize the level of advertising they are getting and how little money it actually is on the scale of corporate giving. I’m sure it is a tiny portion of their corporate giving budget this year.

    But, that said, they are going to make someone’s dreams come true.

  2. bhyde Post author

    Corp. giving is all good, except when it’s not. The example getting my goat today is Tide’s “Loads of Hope” which is going to have to struggle pretty hard to convince me it’s not a sock puppet.

  3. Adam Baratz

    Is this potential problem inherent to corporate giving or just giving in general? Maimonides ordered acts of giving, best to worst:

    1. Give the recipient the wherewithal to become self-supporting
    2. Neither the donor nor the recipient knows the other
    3. The donor knows the recipient but the recipient is unaware of the donor
    4. The recipient knows the donor but the donor does not know the recipient
    5. The donor gives without being solicited
    6. The donor gives after being solicited
    7. The donor gives less than he should but does so cheerfully
    8. The donor is pained by the act of giving

    There’s no “the donor gives primarily for the sake of status, but you can guess how it might fit in. Naturally, Jewish theology wouldn’t be Jewish theology if you couldn’t argue about it to keep with the tenor of the times.

  4. bhyde Post author

    That’s interesting but seems sort of orthogonal.

    I’m much amused by the idea that giving thru a middleman is better than directly.

    Part of what offends me about programs like “loads of hope” is the way the middleman is using it.

  5. Adam Baratz

    The point of the middleman is to dampen status-seeking on the part of the giver. Like you say, it doesn’t take into account a status-seeking middleman.

  6. bhyde Post author

    A point of the middleman 🙂

    My first thought on reading #2 of Maimonides’ list “Neither the donor nor the recipient knows the other” was that it’s goal was to avoid creating a debt (which would drag the charitable activity back into the commercial domain) – both the recipient and the donor are too easily caught in that trap.

    It is fun to realize that a middleman can launder out the commercial aspect, that’s not what most people think when the idea of middleman is introduced. That sends me off … finding http://www.givinganon.org/

    When I talk with commercial people about open source they always assume it’s really a commercial exchange; so I liked that one.

  7. bhyde Post author

    From the givinganon.org site: “Be Advised: Our books are open to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It is against the law to use Giving Anonymously to pay employees as a way of avoiding payroll taxes.” sigh 🙂

  8. Zack Hyde

    I’ve always been irked by Ben & Jerry’s “10% for piece” and that “Working Assets” phone company or plan.

    There’s also an element of collective action versus Smithian specialization. If we all rationally shopped for the cheapest phone plans, by not being in the business of marketing their charitable aspirations, those phone plans would be more than 10% cheaper than Working Assets. Thus, we could privately donate that much money straight to the charity of our choice. Similar analysis in either case, and I know I may have the historical quoted percentages wrong.

    There’s a more nefarious social aspect of sponsorship, too. The donee will be loathe to upset the status quo in way offensive to the donor. If not-for-profit Hometown Theater receives all its funding from Bank of America, will it think twice before staging ‘The Evil Fat Cats of Corporate Banking’?

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