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The Spirit of (Corporate) Giving

Gone are the holiday festivities and heartwarming ads, and in their stead, ambitious resolutions and redefined priorities.

January inherits real momentum – and a sense of goodwill – from December’s “season of giving.”

That’s why many companies use the holidays to set aside time – and part of their budget – to publicly support causes that are important to them. It’s no coincidence, of course, that charitable gifts registered by December 31 qualify for a tax deduction. But it’s during budget season that companies forecast where their investments will make the greatest impact – and that includes partnerships associated with giving.

According to a survey released in October by the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy, the connection between corporate giving and a company’s success is so strong that, in recent years, companies have increased their philanthropic budgets and promoted the people leading the charge in charitable giving.

Why?

Many deploy giving campaigns to empower key business objectives. A study from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy found the number one objective of corporate charitable giving is to support the company’s mission and values. And the top factor influencing funding decisions for philanthropy is “alignment with business objectives.”

In other words, giving is an important way for a company to tell its story. Behind closed doors, charitable giving can sometimes get couched in the language of branding and budgets. But that shouldn’t take away from the genuine good that is happening.

Philanthropic efforts don’t belong under a bushel (unless they’re anonymous by design). Many of these endeavors are exactly the sort of thing people want to hear more about.

We regularly ask our focus group participants for their unfiltered take on everything from ad campaigns to their perceptions about companies. It’s a tricky time for managing corporate reputation. Audiences are skeptical; they keep their guard up and they know PR when they see it.

But they also know the ripple effects of generosity. They understand what a difference a little good can do. And they’re willing to listen to your narrative if you reach them on their terms – not yours.

There’s a lot of good being done that flies under the radar. These are the stories that need to be told – throughout the year, but now more than ever.

Liz Brinkerhoff is a communications advisor at Luntz Global.