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Corporates want their pound of flesh

At a recent CSR presentation by a UK bank, I was struck by the highly commercial attitude this company is taking to its community involvement.

OK, we all know the days of cheque book corporate philanthropy are largely behind us (and of course this is the banking sector!), but listening to the presentation felt more like being on the end of a sales pitch than 'how we care for the community'.

This feeling was more than a little reinforced when speaking to a charity in the audience which had been visited by a rep from the same bank. Convened to talk about possible corporate support, the meeting had very rapidly come round to just how big a deposit the charity would be able to make with the bank if support were forthcoming. When the charity declined, the bank soon lost interest and (surprise surprise) selected another charity instead. I have no way of knowing, of course, whether or not the second charity was able to make that deposit!

What strikes me about this experience is that some companies, perhaps driven by the recession, are seeking to squeeze every last drop of commercial value out of their CSR policy, in a way that would not once have been the case. Brave new world? Maybe, but one we must all get used to if we are to succeed in this highly competitive area of fundraising.

I'm not suggesting we abandon our corporate approaches, just that we need to be savvy about the commercial realities which drive companies and about how far we are prepared to go to get them on board.

If you would like advice about your corporate fundraising programme, please do get in touch, as we have two corporate specialists on our team.

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