News

Arts and business news from around the country.

RSS

In Philanthropists’ Shoes: Three Perspectives on Being Genuine From Luxury Brands and High Net Worth Individuals

Posted by Bruce Whitacre
0 Comments

While corporate philanthropy has long ago shifted from community charity to strategic, carefully designed programs, a fundamental question of authenticity can undermine the soundest strategies.

 

If the association between a company and a cause, or the social impact of the company’s action does not resonate with consumers and other stakeholders, what is the point of the best-laid plans?

 

This question was examined at a recent panel convened by Barron’s and the Luxury Marketing Council, a collaborative organization of leading brands. Discussion was led by journalist and author Richard C. Morais, editor of Barron’s Penta, a quarterly magazine and website serving wealthy families. In this context, Morais addressed the inherent contradiction facing luxury brands and philanthropy — high end products are often marketed as expressions and rewards for one’s self, and this can create dissonance for philanthropic projects focused on others. Customers of these brands are also often philanthropists themselves and they are attuned to these inconsistencies.

 

As Page Snow, Chief Philanthropic Officer at Foundation Source, illustrated, “Individuals of wealth are approached constantly for various causes, and their BS detector becomes very finely tuned, especially at higher levels of wealth.”

 

Alignment sets the stage for genuine and successful partnership. Snow offered advice to those of us on the asking side of this equation: she pointed out that younger family philanthropists are looking out for how their foundations’ assets are being invested just as much as how their grants are being made. They want their portfolios to align with their own values, just as much as their grantees. Even more important, they are not looking for non-profits to fund. They are looking for problems to solve.

 

She went on to analyse recent luxury cause marketing campaigns for alignment and authenticity. RuPaul and Viva Glam: great match. While one of the most inauthentic of recent campaigns, she said, was Komen and KFC. Curing cancer through products that contribute to obesity and cancer just doesn’t fly.

 

Sometimes the alignment simply fits the company’s DNA. Illustrating this was Jasmine Audemars, Chairman of Audemars Piguet, a Swiss watch manufacturer that supports global sustainability projects. “Time evokes the evolution of geology” according to Piguet. As head of their corporate foundation, Audemar and the board direct its resources toward forest preservation around the world as well as in their own backyard in Switzerland’s Jura.

 

And on the corporate side, they built the first industrial building in Switzerland to receive the Minergie Eco label. Sustainability advocates are embedded within each department to help improve the company’s processes. None of the foundation projects are used to overtly promote watches, the corporate image or otherwise fit a “strategic” marketing or communications objective. So, while the foundation work informs the corporate work, it is not used as a marketing gimmick.

 

Danny Meyer highlighted a staff-based philanthropy approach. Employees at his Union Square Hospitality Group restaurants are hired primarily based on their “Hospitality Quotient,” their desire and happiness in serving others. Even in his business’s early days when Union Square was being redeveloped, he and his staff engaged with the community by serving free lunches to organizers and farmers market advocates. Each restaurant manager and staff choose their own local philanthropy, and Danny himself has several in which he is involved, such as Share Our Strength and City Harvest.

 

This focus on employee engagement comes back to a core focus of Union Square Hospitality Group: it all starts with employees, not customers, investors or anyone else. Staff that is continuously engaged and challenged is central to the company’s business growth.

 

With a focus on fulfilling one’s employees, public recognition for philanthropy becomes secondary. Union Square Hospitality has sponsored the Big Apple Barbecue in Madison Square Park for years. After all, nearby Blue Smoke is one of their restaurants. But only lately have they actually put their name on it.

 

But one occasion where they are stepping forward as a brand is the DeVine Intervention campaign for Hurricane Sandy relief that recently closed. Wine suppliers have donated lots valued at $250,000 for an online auction benefiting recovery. The timing was felt to be important…offer an infusion of cash for those suffering the longer term effects of the storm.

 

So the question all of us engaged in philanthropic partnerships should ask is, “What problem am I solving, and how am I being authentic about it?” Only then will a cause find its voice, and its true partners.

 

(This post, originally published on HuffingtonPost.org, is one in a weekly series highlighting The pARTnership Movement, Americans for the Arts’ campaign to reach business leaders with the message that partnering with the arts can build their competitive advantage.)

 

*This article was posted on ARTSblog.

Related
Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus

More News

BCA 10 Spotlight: AC Entertainment in Knoxville, Tennessee
Nov 14, 2017 0 Comments
Known as one of the foremost concert promoters and festival producers in the United States, AC Entertainment celebrates the arts by bringing first-class live entertainment experiences to music lovers from around the world. Founded...
Go to full post
BCA 10 Spotlight: Scholastic Inc., New York City
Nov 09, 2017 0 Comments
“Creative, innovative thinking, the hallmark of artists and writers, is fundamental to building economic strength, and new and better ways of seeing the world. The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards validates the creativity of students...
Go to full post
BCA 10 Spotlight: Duke Energy in Charlotte, North Carolina
Nov 07, 2017 0 Comments
“Duke Energy is committed to supporting the vitality of the communities we serve. That includes introducing our young people to the arts at an early age—study after study shows that children benefit immensely from exposure to...
Go to full post
BCA 10 Spotlight: Hallmark Cards in Kansas City, Missouri
Nov 02, 2017 0 Comments
At Hallmark Cards, art is an essential component of the company’s DNA. From its founding in the early 20th century, Hallmark has fostered creative environments both inside and outside the workplace, and has been particularly...
Go to full post
BCA 10 Spotlight: Bacardi in Coral Gables, Florida
Oct 31, 2017 0 Comments
“Supporting the arts within the cities and towns where we live and work is our way of giving back at Bacardi. This sense of corporate responsibility has been at our foundation since the Bacardi company was created more than 151...
Go to full post
BCA 10 Spotlight: Microsoft in Redmond, Washington
Oct 26, 2017 0 Comments
“Microsoft is honored to support arts and culture organizations across the U.S. and around the world, which provide so much richness to all of our communities.” -Lori Harnick, General Manager, Citizenship and Public Affairs...
Go to full post
BCA 10 Spotlight: Yum! Brands in Louisville, Kentucky
Oct 24, 2017 0 Comments
“At Yum! Brands, we believe in the power of the arts to educate, inspire and empower all students, especially those who are classified as ‘at-risk’.  Working with our local Fund for Arts organization we created the Yum! Family...
Go to full post
BCA 10 Spotlight: Turner Broadcasting System in Atlanta, Georgia
Oct 20, 2017 0 Comments
“Turner Voices, our company’s signature corporate philanthropy program, marries our deep ties to our Atlanta hometown with our commitment to next-generation storytellers and their power to impact our community in profoundly positive...
Go to full post
It’s a Celebration! The 2017 BCA 10 Gala: Best Businesses That Partner with the Arts
Oct 19, 2017 0 Comments
On October 11th, business and arts leaders gathered at the iconic Central Park Boathouse in New York City to honor the best businesses partnering with the arts in America at the annual BCA 10 Awards. Now in its 13th year, this...
Go to full post
BCA 10 Spotlight: AutoZone, Inc. in Memphis, Tennessee
Oct 18, 2017 0 Comments
"Even as AutoZone has evolved over the last 36 years, we’ve maintained a steadfast commitment to our hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. Leadership and active participation in our region’s arts and culture are essential to community...
Go to full post
The Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts are Featured in Forbes
Oct 11, 2017 0 Comments
This year's BCA 10 honorees are using the arts to meet business goals in moving ways. We are proud to recognize them with an ad in the 100th Anniversay Issue of Forbes, "100 Greatest Business Minds" (page 169, September 28)...
Go to full post
Hear from the Business Leaders of the 2017 BCA 10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts
Oct 02, 2017 0 Comments
Now that you have read about this year’s BCA 10 honorees, let’s take the time to meet the leaders. These business executives, representing a range of industries from hotels to healthcare to retail, are inspiring. Support them...
Go to full post
2012 BCA 10 Winning Tampa Bay Times Spreads Joy of Literature with Times Festival of Reading
Sep 28, 2017 0 Comments
Every fall, the Tampa Bay Times marketing department produces a celebration of the literary arts known as the Times Festival of Reading. This one day event draws thousands of book lovers, as well as famous authors from across...
Go to full post
2011 BCA Winning Law Firm, Baker Botts L.L.P., Says the Arts Are Essential
Sep 26, 2017 0 Comments
A major supporter of the arts since the 19th century, Baker Botts, an international law firm, strives to be a good corporate citizen, helping arts organizations thrive and providing opportunities for its employees and clients...
Go to full post

Already a partner?

Already a partner?

Learn easy ways to take your partnership to a new level.

Use our ads locally

Use our ads locally

View The pARTnership Movement ad campaign and find ways to use the ads.

pARTnership videos

pARTnership videos

Watch and share our videos from The pARTnership Movement.

Partnership ideas

Partnership ideas

Inspire employees with tickets to the ballet or a concert.

Are you an arts group?

Are you an arts group?

Get listed in our searchable directory.

Recruit talent

Recruit talent

Employees want to live and work in a vibrant community.