Don't pinch pennies on corporate philanthropy

Last Monday was National Corporate Philanthropy Day. The Committee to Encourage Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) was in New York to ring it in at the NYSE, and later, to laud the philanthropic works of companies like Cisco Systems, Grand Circle Corp., and The Home Depot and its partner KaBOOM!

Last Monday was National Corporate Philanthropy Day. The Committee to Encourage Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) was in New York to ring it in at the NYSE, and later, to laud the philanthropic works of companies like Cisco Systems, Grand Circle Corp., and The Home Depot and its partner KaBOOM!

Cisco received CECP's Excellence Award for a program that resulted in staffers donating 200,000 hours of community service in seven months, its $41 million commitment to help rebuild the Gulf region after Katrina, and many other programs.

International travel company Grand Circle was honored with an award for its "World Classroom Initiative," a $10 million pro- gram that invests in the destinations its travelers visit. The Home Depot and KaBOOM!, its non- profit partner of nine years, won an award for their program last year to create and refurbish 1,000 play-spaces in 1,000 days.

When companies commit time and money to CSR efforts, whether establishing their own foundations or partnering with others, the goodwill they create far outweighs the costs of time, effort, and money. It's the opposite of being penny wise and pound foolish.

Tyco International, which earned $9.7 billion in first quarter revenue this fiscal year, might consider that lesson. As reported in this issue, the company has asked for $70,000 back from the Lagrant Foundation.

From a communications standpoint, the company has erred twice - first, for pulling what amounts to pocket change from Lagrant, and second for not elaborating on its rationale for doing so. Tyco explained in a letter to Kim Hunter, chair of the foundation, that it was withdrawing support because of restructuring and spin-offs. Said Hunter, "They want the money to help reduce their debt. Now you explain to me how $70,000 is going to reduce their debt. It's a joke. It's a total joke." If so, Tyco may not have the last laugh.

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