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The death of grip and grin

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Mary E. Donohue

In its annual philanthropy survey of nearly 140 leading companies, the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy found the greatest surge in philanthropy in 2008 was in non-cash giving, which rose by nearly 35 percent among companies whose giving increased.

Why?  Because the gift of time is a great first step in building trust.

Research into consumer experiences indicates that socially conscious companies are realizing that the transactional-giving patterns of the past, defined as monetary donations to nonprofits, need to change to meet the evolving needs both of stakeholders and corporate resources.

Transformational investing enables stakeholders to own the brand in a manner that transactional donations can’t: It enables the people to create their own content about the brand through interaction with employees.

Give money and you give an impression.

Give time and you give sense of the brand.

Give money and time and you create through transformational investing a brand experience that positively affects internal and external audiences.

Molson Coors Canada financed the research that evolved into the National Mentoring Program, giving money and time.

Molson Coors team members worked with nonprofits and university students to create a strategic plan that solved a business-infrastructure issue for the nonprofit.

Then, using the National Mentoring Program system, Molson Coors funded the students to work in the field with the nonprofit for the summer.

It was a win-win-win situation.

When you switch to being a participant in your community rather than just a donor, my research demonstrates that your stakeholders reward you with their trust.

Consider the results over three years of Molson Coors’ sponsorship of the program. Based on my research and that of two consulting firms:

  • Corporate-social-responsibility media coverage of Molson has risen from two percent of overall coverage of the company in 2006 to 11 percent. In 2008, corporate-social-responsibility press coverage of the company was the only consistently positive press Molson received.
  • 100 percent of English-speaking and French-speaking employees surveyed are proud to work for Molson; this is up from 54 percent in 2005
  • 90 percent of all employees believe Molson has an excellent reputation among their friends, compared with 50 percent in 2005 when we began our project
  • 98 percent of employees believe Molson cares about the communities in which it operates, up 17.7 percent from 2006 in English Canada and 25.2 percent in French Canada

In this economy, people can’t remember an ad, let alone which corporation gave what to whom.

But they do remember people who helped them in a crunch.

Community mentoring and volunteering enables your staff to interact and use their talents to help others.

The definition of a socially responsible company is changing from giving or just conducting a transaction to operating as a transformational organization that uses its talents and its funds to enable others to learn how to achieve their goals.


Mary E. Donohue is founder of the National Mentoring Program, a nonprofit in Toronto and in Fayetteville, Ark., that connects corporations, universities and nonprofits for mentoring. Molson Coors sponsored creation of the mentoring program and pays it to match Molson employees with university students and charities. Donohue is former executive director of the Molson Indy Festival Foundation

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