Corporate Charity Crappiness

I’ve got a pet peeve regarding the way large companies handle their charitable donations. Mostly, that they use the fact that they are considering being charitable as a means to drive direct sales of their products. Like Yoplait’s Save Lids to Save Lives campaign, or Dawn’s 1 bottle = $1 to save wildlife campaign. Okay, so instead of just donating a sum of money to charity and making announcements about that to try to drive sales, they make you buy their product in order to donate a small sum of money per sale. Fine.

Dawn Donation's 2009What bothers me more are all the caveats they put on the donation. Yoplait requires you to collect the lids and mail them to them. Dawn requires you to go to their website and enter a code to ‘activate your donation’. Look, I’m not the one donating to charity. You are. Track you god damn sales, and figure things out that way. These companies are hiding behind these processes which most people aren’t going to follow through on (people are lazy about this shit, I know I am), in order to try to keep from actually having to donate. According to Dawn’s FAQ their donation program ran from July 1, 2009 to October 1, 2009. Their donation counter as of right now? $126,991. You can fucking bet that Dawn has sold more bottles of their dish detergent than that over third quarter of this year.

Even worse, as far as I’m concerned, is that these companies then put these artifical caps on their donation size. For Dawn, it was $500,000 (not that they even came close). For Yoplait, it’s $1,500,000, and that’s at $0.10 per lid. That means they need to recieve fifteen million lids to reach that figure. And after that? Fuck you, breast cancer. So what, the company can afford to donate $0.10 per lid they recieve up to fifteen million sales, but not a dime after? Now, Yoplait has guaranteed a minimum donation of $500,000, which is awesome, but I’ll be really interested to see what their final donation is, after all this is said and done.

I’m all for corporate sponsorship of charity. And I have no problem with these companies making a big deal of the fact that they’re donating to charity. But imposing artificial limits on their donation, and requiring me to jump through hoops for them to make these donations is flat ridiculous and dishonest. Make a promise to donate a percentage of all sales or profits over a given timeframe to a given charity. Great. But don’t create extra work for your customers, who you know full well are unlikely to follow through, in order to try to get the PR boost for being charitable, when in reality, you’re probably going to be donating a lot less than you imply in your marketing and outside of the fine print on your advertising and labeling. That’s just being dishonest. At least in Yoplait’s case, they’re a lot more upfront about the requirement to mail in lids, and the max donation, then I ever saw on Dawn’s advertising.