Be Aware: The Percentage of Funds Actually Going to a Cause Will Become Part of Your CSR Story

Posted on October 28, 2013 
Filed Under Corporate Responsibility, General, Media Relations, Nonprofit PR

Amid all the noise surrounding Barneys New York and its alleged racial profiling, and whether the rap mogul Jay-Z should back out of his partnership with the luxury retailer, came this little noticed fact: Only 25 percent of the proceeds from the partnership, where sales are intended to benefit Jay-Z’s Shawn Carter Foundation, will actually go to the foundation.

And no doubt, only a fraction of that 25 percent will go to the ultimate objective, scholarships for economically challenged students.

And therein lies a significant issue inherent in all CSR efforts—trust. When people hear about a non-profit entity serving a worthy cause, the first thing many people think is, ‘how much of the proceeds are actually going to the cause?’

It’s a common question people ask themselves before they take out their checkbooks, and it’s legit. For example, Business Insider reported earlier this month that “a shockingly small amount of money from NFL pink merchandise goes to breast cancer research.”

How small? Business Insider said that for every $100 in pink merchandise sold, $12.50 goes to the NFL. Of that, $11.25 goes to the American Cancer Society and the NFL keeps the rest.

What these reports do is dampen charitable giving because people have images of well-paid executive directors, lavish staff salaries and benefits and rich expense accounts.

And so, from a communications perspective, PR pros who manage CSR and charitable giving need to know at least one thing: The actual percentages of funds going to a charity or cause needs to become part of CSR messaging, because the media is going to report on it anyway and it’s better to be ahead of the story.

And by mastering this one thing, you can avoid the reaction that ‘oh, well, it’s just another non-profit enriching itself before doing accomplishing social good.’

—@tonysilber

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