I noticed the Target Facebook campaign where they asked their customers (and others) to vote for a charity from a list of ten. Each of the ten would recieve a share of the 3 million dollar pot (Beth Kanter has some more info on it here). Its kind of Kiva like in its approach isnt it.
Charity Navigator have posted on their blog about another company doing something similar. Tom’s of Maine is offering five $20,000 donations to support community projects in a contest called 50 States for Good.
Charity Navigator sees this as a continuing of the trend of for profits allowing their stakeholders have a say in where their donations go. We have seen this here to a degree with companies short listing charities for a charity of the year and asking employees to vote for their “favourite”.
CN says that:
Pairing philanthropic work with customer involvement is a natural move for many companies, who typically give back a portion of their earnings to the community. By drawing new visitors to their site with an interactive experience such as voting, they engage their patrons while supporting a good cause. The Tom’s of Maine contest has drawn applications from organizations in nearly every state.
One of the issues we often face in talking to companies is how we are going to help them do their business by partnering with them and this seems like it ticks that box. I have certainly seen it lead to charities campaigning and driving people to the site of the company involved. On the down side it probably means the larger organisation will fair better in a National campaign and it may lead to a bit more competition in the market (like there isnt enough!).
Some other examples are Waitrose, who do the same thing but very very locally and Smarties in Canada who did Colours for a Cause. So this seems like the trend and the smart charities will embrace this and adapt their approaches to reflect this kind of thinking. How you do that is up to you….maybe you partner with others and approach a corporate, maybe you choose projects that customers can vote to support.