For PayPal, It Pays to Give

PayPal recently fielded some criticism when it shut down an account from a humor blog that was collecting donations in order to buy holiday gifts for needy children, but was nimble enough to quickly turn the negative attention into a brand-building opportunity.

On Dec. 1, humor blog Regretsy announced that 200 needy children would be the recipients of holiday gifts via a Secret Santa charity drive, and put out a call for donations to its audience. April Winchell, the comedian who runs the blog, wrote in a blog post that the program received thousands of dollars in donations within the first few hours.

The good news came to an abrupt halt, on Dec. 5. That day, Winchell, in a blog entry, described an exchange she had with a “condescending representative” from PayPal who notified her that the company was freezing her account because she had used PayPal's “Donate” button, which is only available for use by nonprofits. When she came up with a plan to circumvent PayPal’s donations rules by returning the funds to donors and then pretending to sell the gifts to donors in order to receive the funds again, the rep said that would also violate the rules and kept the account frozen.

That did not sit well with Winchell, her audience and the public at large as the story went viral—eventually making Regretsy one of the top 10 trending topics on Twitter in the U.S. on Dec. 6.

The day after Winchell’s critical blog post went live, Anuj Nayar, director of communications at PayPal, via a statement on the company’s blog, announced, “We can confirm that the funds have been released and we are working directly with the account holder on this matter…We are working with Regretsy to make a donation to help their cause, and we’re truly sorry this occurred.”

Not only had the company apologized to Winchell, it took the extra step to pledge a donation to the charitable cause. In the spirit of the holiday season, PayPal showed that it's willing to bend its own rules a bit—and in so doing went from Grinch to do-gooder.

Comments Off

Deals of the Week

Get $150 Off PR News' Measurement Conference 

Media Relations ConferenceJoin PR News at the National Press Club on Dec. 11 for the Media Relations Conference, where you'll learn how to tie your media relations initiatives to business goals, use the right metrics to prove the success of your efforts, incorporate social media in a brand crisis and more.

Use code “150” at checkout to save $150 on the regular rate.

Get $50 off PR News' Crisis Management Guidebook


Crisis management is an art, not a science. In this edition of PR News’ Book of Crisis Management Strategies & Tactics, you will discover many different views on this art, and you are certain to find takeaways that will transform the way your organization handles crises. 

Use code “50off” at checkout.

Save $100 on a PR News Subscription



Let PR News become your weekly, go-to resource for the latest PR trends, case studies and tip sheets. Topics covered include visual storytelling, social media, measurement, crisis management and media relations.

Use code “SUBDEAL” at checkout.

Comments are closed.