Corporate Philanthropy – What Does That Really Mean?

So many companies, large and small, make reference to donating a portion of their profits to charity. Most of us don’t stop to ask what that actually means. How much are they really giving away — and what is their motivation? Is it cynical of us as consumers to wonder if a company’s claims of philanthropy are “window dressing” to appear to be charitable to lure customers? Or does a company honestly have a professional ethic in which they set out to earmark a part of their profits for the common good in society? For example, there are many pet food companies but Halo, Purely for Pets seems to donate at a different level.

Halo connected with years ago and has been giving away 1.5 million meals to shelters every year. I think we have to ask ourselves “What is the influence of our consumer dollar?” and shop accordingly when we are choosing a company to support with our business.

My father and Paul Newman started a company called Newman’s Own, which was never expected to be a super successful company, however the intention from the beginning was to give away all the corporate profits. That mandate to “give back” is not the same at a for-profit business (with shareholders or investors). It requires a different mind-set for a company to choose to share a portion of their success with the less fortunate, and that is an important driving force in the corporate atmosphere of that company.

One of the reasons I’m personally proud to be associated with Halo is because they have a clear mandate to “give back” to the shelter and rescue community. I want to highlight their social generosity as another valuable reason for me to encourage people to buy Halo products, in addition to their pet food having high nutritional standards. I was wondering how they had come to embrace their corporate philanthropy. I recently asked the question of David Yaskulka, who is Vice-President, Marketing Communications, for Halo, Purely for Pets. He said, “I love working at Halo. ‘Do good, be good’ is our corporate motto, which comes down from our CEO, Steve Marton. ‘Do Good’ means be a good pet food company, which means offering the best ingredients and formulas. ‘Be Good’ means give back to the community at an exemplary level.”

“In the seven years I’ve worked with Steve,” Yaskulka continued, “Halo has given more than 10 times the national corporate average. That means that when a pet parent spends a dollar on Halo, animal rescue organizations benefit ten times more than they benefit from an average company.”

As it turns out, individual instances of exemplary corporate philanthropy are meeting with great market success at the same time that consumer expectations of brands that they trust being philanthropic has risen significantly over the years. Ben & Jerry’s was a pioneer in moving the needle with corporate philanthropy right from their beginning, and David Yaskulka spent time learning from its founders, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. “My career goal has been to help the exemplary philanthropic companies achieve market success,” David continued. “You can maximize shareholder value — that is a company’s fiduciary responsibility — while doing good. If done right, giving back inspires commitment from both customers and employees. If a company truly gives back, the people who work there enjoy going to work every day because they know they are making a difference and have a mission — it adds meaning to our lives.”

I’d like to encourage anyone who thinks corporate philanthropy matters in society to spend their money with those companies that have demonstrated a commitment to reaching out to those in need, because then we become an integral part of the circle of goodness.

—Tracie Hotchner
(Have a comment? Share it on Facebook.)

Halo is a sponsor on Radio Pet Lady Network, by our invitation.