Bad times, good deeds: despite a rough economy, corporate philanthropy is thriving.

Author:Mead, Chris
Position:Corporate Philanthropy
 
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Consumers are more likely to buy from businesses they associate with good causes. So giving back to your community by donating your money, your time or your product is good for your business and good for your bottom line.

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"Spare me the sermon," you're probably thinking. "I've heard that a zillion times before, but that was then and this is now. All this charitable stuff made perfect sense back in the days when the economy was humming and there was plenty of money for extras, but these are rocky times for my business, and I've got to cut somewhere."

We hear you loud and clear, but is abandoning your philanthropic activities during a recession a good business strategy?

Absolutely not! In fact, in our current economic environment, it's more important than ever for you to reach out and support the community where you do business. That's the unanimous opinion of four business leaders interviewed by the Detroiter for their thoughts on doing good when times are bad.

Before we take a closer look at what these four are doing, here are some words to consider from Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks. In a November 2008 essay in the Huffington Post, he stated that short-term thinking in a recession can lead to the "false belief ... that corporate social responsibility can be put on the back burner. Now is a time to invest, truly and authentically, in our people, in our corporate responsibility and in our communities. The argument - and opportunity - for companies to do this has never been more compelling."

Craig Barrett, Intel's chairman, agrees. "You can't save your way out of recession - you have to invest your way out," he said in a recent interview with Fortune magazine. "We look at our CSR (corporate social responsibility) activities in pretty much the same way: you can't just do them in good times and then just forget about them in bad times and hope to get any results."

"OK, those are the big guys," you're now thinking. "I run a small business; I don't have their resources."

The fact of the matter is that you don't always need a mammoth budget for your charitable or philanthropic activities. What you need most is a creative mind - and a big heart.

These four organizations featured on the next two pages have a lot of both.

Dynamic Edge Inc.

Through its Tech Grant program, this Ann Arbor-based IT services company selects six or so local nonprofits each year to assist with in-kind services. This year...

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