First and foremost, I would like to begin this post by urging everyone who reads it to do his or her best to influence corporate giving towards Tsunami relief funds and strongly consider a personal contribution. Contributions can be sent to the Americares Foundation and American Red Cross International Response Fund. The tragedy is enormous and the help needed is immense. Please provide whatever help you can. Now on to my post.
I recently learned about the President and founder of a leading domain registrar (the companies that one uses to register web site domains) called Go Daddy being so moved by the recent Tsunami disaster in Southern Asia and Eastern Africa that he had his organization, a small business, donate $25,000 to relief efforts. He later decided he needed to up the amount to $250,000 and is attempting to influence other companies to act similarly.
The man’s name is Bob Parsons. He publishes a blog, that I learned about only minutes before writing this post, which I find refreshingly straight-shooting.
Corporate giving, in my experience, is rarely a truly altruistic act, regardless of spin. Big business often donates to high-profile causes for the PR impact and brand benefits – and I am not saying that is necessarily bad, but it certainly doesn’t inspire the emotional bond that a surprisingly and believably altruistic act would. After all, it’s easy for a Fortune 500 to give $1 million to a high-profile cause and reap the resulting publicity rewards. But, to see a small business give $250,000 out of the conviction and compassion of the business leader is nothing short of inspiring and, frankly, is far too rare an event. And while Bob might not get the same media coverage as a big brand like Citigroup, I think there is strong brand benefit, as this act results in his company’s customers developing an emotional bond with the company. In fact, with this act, in the eyes of many customers, Bob's small company with a silly name has transcended simply being viewed as another competitor within a marketplace that has fairly generic offerings and will now be perceived as a company with values and a heart.
On a personal level, while I have used Bob's company for a few years and had good experiences, I have also had good experiences with some of his competitors and never had much brand loyalty. Now, as a result of what I know about Bob and his company, I will give much stronger consideration to his company with my own business. I now want to swing all of my domain business Go Daddy's way. I’m also more likely to recommend Bob’s company than I was before this event. To me, Bob’s actions have a spiritual and a business benefit. I believe that Bob’s actions were taken as the result of a passionate commitment to be a responsible and caring corporate citizen.
In an age where big company greed, bad ethics and the resulting scandals fill the headlines and the court rooms, seeing a business with a conscience needs to be celebrated and, I believe, held up as an inspirational example. I also believe there will be a longer-term positive impact for Bob’s company, as many customers are likely to develop deeper, emotional bonds with the Go Daddy brand that will result in increased customer loyalty/retention rates, referrals and sales.
Call it goodwill or good values. I only hope it spreads.