The past year may be remembered for a lot of things, but one milestone shows that through it all, many people were out to help. Reporting by Candid and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy found more than $20 billion went to COVID-19 relief in 2020. The report found corporate foundations and corporate giving programs accounted for $9.4 billion of the total relief funding in 2020 – or 44% of all giving. That’s something to celebrate!
But how do companies make the most of their dollars when they are not able to donate millions? The answer is having a solid strategy for getting that information out to the public and to partners. Plus, it’s not as hard as one might think. It can be as simple as writing a blog, sending out a press release or updating your audience in a newsletter. All of these tactics help alert community members to potential partnership opportunities, as well as drive traffic back to your company. If you have also worked to incorporate search engine optimization into those updates as well as a website – all the better!
Having a communications strategy for charitable giving is not about boasting, but rather how companies can come together to build some goodwill or help out a community in need. And bonus, when you talk about your giving, you might find new partners to work with toward a common goal. At T&C for example, we share internally and with our clients the cool things we see happening in the community; we look for partners for our clients, we look for people doing generous, creative or innovative things to help lift up nonprofits in the community.
Here are some recent ways we participated in corporate giving with our clients from the PR side.
One of our tenants here at T&C is to be grateful and give back. That’s why each year for our holiday gifts we try to find a cool company to support. If you were a T&C client in 2019, you likely got a pair of Bombas socks to keep your feet warm and look cool. But the company also has a stellar PR strategy when it comes to its corporate giving. For every pair of socks sold, Bombas donates one to a homeless shelter. That’s resulted in more than 45 million pairs donated. If your business strategy is baked into your company motto, it’s pretty easy to make the most of getting good PR out of your donations.
One more recent example is Ravn Alaska teaming up with rival soda brands Coca-Cola and Pepsi to bring water to the village of Tuluksak. With the new owners taking over operations in Alaska in 2020, they reintroduced new routes and services across the state. They showed they can deliver the goods and the good gesture takes off from there. Even PepsiCo’s general manager agreed, telling Alaska’s News Source, “We are fierce competitors out in the marketplace, but we do work together on common purposes.”
To help spread the word about the rivals coming together with Ravn, T&C drafted a press release for Ravn detailing the partnership. Then the story was pitched to Alaska media outlets offering interviews with all three companies. The result? All three companies were interviewed for a story on the No. 1 TV station in the state.
Another T&C client, Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, has its corporate giving strategy dialed in. Its penchant for giving back started back with the credit union’s founding in 1948. The 15 founding members of Alaska USA felt that local financial institutions were not meeting the credit needs of the federal civil service personnel who had been recently stationed in Alaska. The founders realized a credit union could meet those needs and thus founded Alaska USA.
Today, the credit union has branches in Arizona, California, Washington and Alaska, and has more than 695,000 members. For its charitable giving, Alaska USA regularly writes press releases detailing its donations to local nonprofits in the states it serves. Alaska USA and the Alaska USA Foundation’s giving strategy is focused on nonprofits that provide services to children, veterans, and active duty members of the military and their families.
Back in May of 2020, the Alaska USA Foundation donated $100,000 in support of COVID-19 response efforts. Among the organizations receiving donations were the Armed Services YMCA of Alaska, Camp Fire Alaska and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska.
To help share the news widely, our staff pitched the news to local Alaska outlets that often feature business news like Alaska Business Monthly, Alaska Journal of Commerce and the Anchorage Press. Our media outreach for Alaska USA also includes national credit union trade publications so Alaska USA is positioned as a thought leader in charitable giving.
Another strong example of a company having a successful PR strategy for charitable giving is GCI. As Alaska’s largest telecommunications provider, GCI serves more than 200 communities including some of the most remote in North America. When connectivity was needed more than ever in 2020 GCI responded by giving back to the communities it serves to make sure they had the services they needed.
GCI even has its own program dedicated to nonprofit giving called GCI Gives. The program is made up of four parts: the GCI Scholarship Program, the GCI Suicide Prevention Fund, year-round giving, and employee volunteerism. Throughout the year, GCI works with its nonprofit partners to highlight their charities on social media, fundraise, and work with partners on connectivity.
Of course, connectivity became so important in 2020 that GCI saw an opportunity to help its customers by offering free internet service and upgrades to Alaskans. All it took to get the word out was a post on its social media channels and a quick pitch to local news outlets.
To have a solid charitable giving strategy, it all comes down to being able to react quickly to what’s happening in the world, understanding the need, and communicating those messages with the public. Or if you need a little help accomplishing those steps, let us help!