Sunday, July 09, 2017

Reminder: Corporate Charity Comes From Marketing Budget - Wells Fargo's Iditarod Sponsorship Ends

A recent ADN story recounted how Wells Fargo had decided to stop sponsoring the Iditarod dog sled race.  While PETA claimed credit for the change, Wells Fargo didn't confirm that.
"David Kennedy, Wells Fargo spokesman for the Alaska region, declined to say whether outreach from PETA and its supporters influenced the company's decision. Kennedy said in an email this week that Wells Fargo made the decision as part of its "regular marketing sponsorship review process."
'Wells Fargo regularly reviews where we allocate our marketing resources to ensure that our efforts help our customers understand how we can help them achieve their financial goals," he said. "We have nothing further to add.' (emphasis added)

Corporations regularly tout how much money they contribute to communities.  Often the amounts look significant, though only when compared to what an average individual might contribute.  Back in 2008 I looked more carefully at an Exxon contribution to the Anchorage Symphony:
"Now Exxon's 2007 after tax profits were about $40 Billion. Let's say they kicked in $40,000 (I'm guessing it might not be that much, but it's easier to calculate.) Someone making $100,000 before taxes, if I calculated this right, would have to donate 10 cents to donate an equivalent percent of their income. " [It turned out they only donated $10,000 so it would really come out to 2.5¢.]
Consider this a note, a reference if needed in the future, to show that the companies themselves say allocate this so called charity from the marketing accounts.  It's to make them look good in the community and it comes pretty cheap.  While there might also be a serious attempt to do good in a community by some companies as well, it is, fundamentally a marketing decision.  Just as we see companies sponsoring booths at the Pridefest, because it's now good for business, ten years ago they wouldn't help gay organizations because it wasn't good for business.  (See Jacob's comment on this Pridefest post.)

I don't fault the businesses for this, but I do fault a system (which businesses do lobby to maintain) which forces non-profits into a position to passively, if not actively, endorse corporations, often those that do significant harm to the communities they're in.

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