Hurricane aid pays off in image surveys

NEW YORK: Involvement in relief efforts for recent disasters has helped the reputation of corporations and nonprofits, according to two recent surveys.

NEW YORK: Involvement in relief efforts for recent disasters has helped the reputation of corporations and nonprofits, according to two recent surveys.

Wal-Mart earned the top spot in Delahaye's Media Index of Corporate Reputation, which includes analyses of different print and broadcast news to measure the reputation of the top 100 US companies.

The retail giant placed second on last quarter's index, behind Microsoft. Mark Weiner, CEO of Delahaye, said Wal-Mart's spot suggests it benefited the most from favorable coverage.

"Their positive coverage was a bit better than their negative and neutral coverage," he said.

Wal-Mart's well-publicized relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina may have had an impact, as well.

"The Katrina news coverage was very positive in terms of Wal-Mart," he said.

He added that a residual benefit was that, for every negative story about FEMA, there was positive information about how Wal-Mart was able to take care of its staffers and communities.

Some of those benefits could be felt in the nonprofit sector, as well. A recent Harris Interactive poll of more than 1,800 adults, ages 18 and over, showed that charities that were actively involved in helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina received strong positive ratings.

Among the respondents that were aware of which companies responded to Katrina, the nonprofits with the highest ratings were Habitat for Humanity (85% positive), the Humane Society (85%), the Salvation Army (83%), the ASPCA (83%), the National Guard (81%), Catholic Charities (79%), and the American Red Cross (77%).

"Nonprofits and charities are benefiting from an image standpoint from the attention they get," said David Krane, SVP for Harris Interactive. "Disasters have a way of bolstering the images of the well-established charities and nonprofits."

Despite the largely positive views for individual nonprofits and charities, the public appears to be divided about whether the nonprofit sector is "on the right track." Thirty-four percent of respondents said it is on the right track, 30% said it is on the wrong track, and 37% are not sure.

"The nonprofits and charities can't rest on laurels here," Krane said. "They must recognize that they have a magnifying glass over them with more scrutiny than they've had in the past."

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