Branded philanthropy – Linking charity to business

By Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – In a move that signals its plans to tie its philanthropy more closely to its business goals, Bank of America has named Jefferson “Jeff” Morgan, former director of brand management at Verizon Communications, as executive director of the Bank of America Foundation.

Morgan, who is based in Charlotte and reports to Lynn E. Drury, the foundation’s president and the bank’s corporate affairs executive, will oversee all philanthropic activities in the U.S. for Bank of America.

Those include building and managing ties with community groups, developing strategic initiatives for corporate giving and overseeing regional contributions.

“This company is specifically looking for a new focus on corporate philanthropy that does bridge with the brand in real and measurable ways,” Morgan said by phone.

“We want to sharpen the focus of our giving,” he said. “We want more of our key audiences to understand that our philanthropy here is directed at a need, not reactive but forward-looking.”

Specifically, he said, the foundation will emphasize the bank’s current marketing focus on “ingenuity.”

“Our business strategy is trying to use ingenuity in how we serve customer needs in ways we’ve never done before,” he said. “On the foundation side, we want to apply that to how we’re approaching community problem-solving.”

The foundation will prepare a new strategic plan by the end of the year, Morgan said, and one approach is likely to be to help nonprofits strengthen their “capacity,” or their ability “to serve their target audiences with greater efficiency, greater speed, greater accountability.”

The foundation, which donated $87.4 million to 5,821 groups in 2000, says it has the largest philanthropic budget of any financial institution in the U.S.

Morgan succeeds Caroline Boitano, who is retiring after 20 years with Bank of America.

At Verizon, he was responsible for developing and putting into effect corporate brand strategy and competitive positioning.

Before that, he was a private consultant for J.D. Morgan Associates, focusing on corporate social responsibility, corporate communications, brand management and public relations.

As a consultant and later an employee, he helped GTE prepare for its merger with Bell Atlantic that produced Verizon.

Before working as a consultant, he held a series of communications and public affairs jobs, including director of community and state government affairs, at GTE.

A native of Benson, N.C., with undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Morgan was director of civic and government affairs for the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce from 1981 to 1983.

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