We’d like to thank you by giving back

The holiday cards are rolling in by email and mail daily, and they all have a similar theme: “In lieu of a gift, we are donating to a charity.”

It’s a very charity holiday season for sure. Holiday gifts from vendors are down this year.  No problem, I understand, it’s a tough economy out there. And while I appreciate the food and things that come, I don’t really need it, and would rather have better service than a gift anyway.

(That said, just got the coolest gift ever from an agency partner. A tiny speaker for your iPod or other Multimedia device called the X-Mini.  Surprising sound from a very small package.”)

But I must say I am skeptical. Given all the hooey around marketing “Brand Cancer” that I wrote about in October , I am not sure that I buy it. It’s unfortunate that my first thought is “did they really?” rather than “what a good idea, how nice of you.” And how did they decide what charity to support on my behalf? Do I have any say in that? (To be fair, Hoovers gave me a choice of four).

So does that mean you shouldn’t do it? I think each company will make the choice based upon their own individual goals. But if you are going to do the charity gift, make it a specific amount and align the charity with the mission of your company.

And send me THIS email instead

“Dear Aaron, we value your business with us this year. In lieu of the usual [choose: chocolates, wine, candy, other] gift that we send to you we feel it’s much more appropriate to help others in this difficult economy.

As you know, [insert company name] believes strongly that [insert goal of cause] is incredibly important in enriching/supporting/ending/researching [something]. In our continued support of their mission we have chosen to donate [insert amount] in the name of our clients [or “in your name” if it’s an individual gift] to [insert charity/organization name].  We have partnered with this organization for many years and have seen first-hand the kind of impact they have. To learn more, please visit them at [insert URL]

Best regards,

[your name]

And what charity would I support if you asked me? I regularly support the following organizations:

The SamFund

Dana Farber Cancer Institute

Thompson School PTO

Family Reading Partnership

Baby Basics Inc.

Fresh Air Fund

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