Embedded Giving?

Posted on December 13, 2007

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Apparently, it doesn’t take long for the concept of ’embedded giving’ to strike up a debate.  Essentially, as this NYT article explains, ’embedded giving’ happens when you purchase a product and a portion of that sale is "donated" to a charitable cause or non-profit organization. 

Apart from the obvious, "do we need another buzzword?" statement, this brings many arguments to the table.  I couldn’t begin to cover them all here, but here’s a start:

1. How much of the money really goes to charity?  As the article points out, campaigns like Product RED have signed contracts with retailers and charities so that you know you’re money is reaching the cause.  In other cases, the charity has little or no knowledge of how or when the donation will arrive (if at all). 

2. Are we really that selfish?  I’m not sure what ever happened to unselfish giving, but I can’t imagine it’s that much harder for people to give to the local food bank, Goodwill location or directly donate a small amount to a charity (online or by mail) than it is to shop at the Gap.  I guess what we’re really looking for is something in return.

3. Is it just about awareness?  As a good friend pointed out, maybe organizations are aligning themselves with brands for awareness-building purposes.  I say: that’s great.  It’s when stores like Barney’s jump on board and claim to be "giving back" with no guarantees they’ll follow through – that frustrates me.

I’m not saying that I haven’t been caught in the trap of "buying and giving," but I’m more aware of it now than ever and hope I can set an example by  "just giving"… let that be your buzzword. 

Leave comments to let me know what you think; and happy holidays.

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