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Be opportunistic in corporate philanthropy

It’s okay to be opportunistic in corporate social responsibility and philanthropy.

As a company, you can’t always see where the greatest social needs lie, and where your products and capabilities can help. Sometimes, you have uncover opportunities to have an impact in new ways, or even wait for them present themselves.

That’s the situation Whirlpool found themselves in when they created a unique corporate giving program called Care Counts School Laundry.

Wait, what? School laundry?

You might expect an appliance manufacturer to focus on charities like Habitat for Humanity, and Whirlpool certainly does that. But at first glance, school and laundry don’t seem to go together.

But as it turns out, as many as 20 percent of American schoolchildren don’t have consistent access to clean clothes, and that correlates to lower attendance and poor performance in schools.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think the problem of access to clean clothes for underprivileged kids was a well-known issue before now. More likely, some smart people at Whirlpool uncovered the issue and saw an opportunity for the company to make a difference.

And thus, the Care Counts program was developed. This is a very well-done program, and it works for a number of reasons:

It shines a light on an important, but obscure problem

The issues of poor nutrition, bullying, obesity, and other challenges facing kids in America have been well-documented, and a number of companies and organizations have mobilized to address them. But clean clothes are crucial for kids’ sense of dignity and self-esteem, and Whirlpool is doing their part.

It rallies others to the cause

The Care Counts program is more than just a corporate giving initiative. It’s a means of educating people and, more importantly, giving them a way to support the cause. The web site prompts anyone viewing it to share on their social media channels and if they are so inclined, to donate.

It makes great use of storytelling

The first thing you see when you go to the site are stories, from the mouths of children, that will tug at your emotions. You don’t see stats or information. You don’t see some expert or official making a plea. You don’t see the brand bragging about their support. You see real, human stories.

 

How can you put this approach to use for your company? Where are some areas you could look to be opportunistic and develop a compelling corporate giving program?

 

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