Corporate charity – the giving of large donations to non-profit organizations by corporate entities – is huge business. And 100% of it needs to go away. Here’s why.
First, corporations are somewhat like governments: they do not really have any money of their own. All corporate money is really consumer money (that is: my money and your money). We selected a product – maybe a computer or a chicken sandwich – and paid a handsome amount of our money in exchange for that product. Corporations often add a nickel or a quarter or a dollar or more to the price so that they could be charitable under their name with my money. Personally, I think this is the wrong way for me to give charitably. Honestly, I would rather save a few cents on my purchase and then decide where and when I want my money to be given. I am much more open to a company asking, “would you like to contribute a dollar to _____?” than for this contribution to be done blindly. So, in the future, rather than celebrate the fact that a corporation is charitably generous, I’ll be thinking that the corporation is choosing where to give my money, and I’ll try to shop elsewhere.
Secondly, corporations are inefficient ways to give charity. Almost always, the corporation creates a charitable foundation which then distributes funds to charities that meet their criteria. To do this, they hire well-paid staff, furnish posh office suites, buy expensive letterhead, do lots of “wining and dining,” and, in general, make the charitable gift far less valuable than if it came from individuals. Why should we celebrate the inefficiency of corporate charitable giving?
Third, corporations inevitably cause political unrest with their charity. We’ve seen this recently with the Chic-fil-a fiasco. What if Chic-fil-a had just sold chicken six days a week at a reasonable price (rather than the inflated price model they’ve been using) and not tried to be the giver-of-my-money? Had they done so, they would have avoided a world of bad-publicity. Years ago, I went to the branch manager of the bank I was then using because they had a sign in their lobby that said, “We celebrate pride in our community.” Knowing that June was homosexual pride month, I spoke to the manager and shared my feelings. In short, I told her, “If you had stuck to banking, you would continue to have my business. But because you’ve become an agenda-driven social-engineering corporation, I’ll take my banking to a bank that just does banking.”
The bottom line is that corporate charity is a bad bottom line. It is outside the avenue of the purpose of the corporation and of the purpose of my purchase. It is inefficient. It is ineffective as an advertising scheme. In the end, it is time for us to criticize rather than complement corporations that give large amounts to charity.
Randy White is the founder and CEO of Dispensational Publishing House, Inc. He teaches Bible online at www.RandyWhiteMinistries.org and preaches at the Taos (NM) First Baptist Church.
Randy, you know I agree with almost everything you post, and I do agree with a lot of what you say in this one, but I have to disagree on one or two points.
First, once I patronize a business, it’s no longer my money; it’s theirs. If the business wants to invest in product development, marketing, expansion, or charitable giving, it is their right to do so. Heck, if they want to burn it, shred it or just stuff it in a mattress, it is their money. They can do whatever they want with it.
Having said that, I would probably not give my business to an entity that is so irresponsible with their assets. It speaks to the fact that if they can afford to be so wasteful, then the value of their products is highly suspect. And I would not patronize a business that supports causes I find objectionable.
Second, I see no benefit in criticizing those who try to do good in an effort to appear charitable, no matter how misguided. I did once, and it only served to damage feelings and made no change in behavior. Chick-fil-a’s corporate giving has done some good to those who received the gifts. Granted, the gift was but a fraction of the money raised, but a little something is more than nothing. Most large charitable organizations have bloated infrastructure that eats much of the donation before it can get to those who need it. Salvation Army, The United Way, and Goodwill all have employees, facilities and programs to pay for and much of the donations received fund those operations. Some of it is wasteful, to be sure, but a lot of good is still done. And Chick-fil-a never made much of a public issue of their charity. It was only when the LGBTQWIDNIOAIEBDTY!@#123(however many other letters have been added) community decided to find a new angle of attack that their charitable donation came under scrutiny.
Having said that, I do not support businesses that make their charity only as a marketing effort. It’s as bad or worse than those who boast of their good works to try to ensure their path to heaven.
So, like you, I will not be patronizing businesses who support issues with which I do not agree, or businesses that make charitable support a marketing strategy.
Amen. Some good thoughts, Dave. You are right, that when I give them “my” money it is now “their” money. I would just prefer to pay for just the product, and use the balance to choose my own charity giving.
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