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The Business of Giving Back

Words by 3p Contributor
Investment & Markets

By Debbie Fletcher

The art of philanthropy is alive and well. Even in today's financially challenging climate, many businesses are maintaining their commitment to fundraising and giving to charity; recent research conducted by the Charities Aid Foundation -- the summary of which is published here by the Guardian -- revealed that the amount donated to charity by FTSE 100 companies has risen by £1.2 billion (or around $1.9 billion) since 2007. That includes cash, volunteer hours and in-kind donations.

The same report showed that 98 percent of those 100 companies gave every year, which is perhaps a far higher figure than many of the public might expect. Evidently, there is significantly more 'good' being done in the corporate world than is being communicated publicly. The business of giving back is very much in practice.

Some of this is on a huge global scale. Hollywood acting legend Paul Newman launched Newman's Own in 1982, and after generating large profits in the company's first year, he famously declared, "Let's give it all away to those who need it." So he did. Newman's Own Foundation was established in 2005, and 100 percent of profits and royalties from the Newman's Own label were donated to charity; by 2012 the total given reached $380 million. "I want to acknowledge luck. The benevolence of it in my life and the brutality of it in the lives of others," the founder once said. Newman passed away in 2008, but his legacy continues.

Another example: The Polo Ralph Lauren Foundation supports a number of initiatives. One, the American Heroes Fund, has established a college scholarship fund for children of the victims of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Another is the Pink Pony Campaign, Ralph Lauren's worldwide initiative in the fight against cancer, with the dedicated mission to reduce disparities in cancer cure in medically-underserved communities. How that translates in the U.K. is that 25 percent of the purchase price of all Pink Pony products benefits Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

The partnership was revealed in May 2014, with Lauren disclosing the sentiments behind the campaign in this video, published on the Vogue website. The survivor of a brain tumor, he lost a friend to breast cancer and was driven to do more. "I hate it when people call me a philanthropist," he said. "I see it more as coming from the heart, and something I do to improve the environment."

Very often personal reasons are behind such ventures. Addiction marketing firm The Drug Rehab Agency recently announced its plans to donate 10 percent of all profits to help addicts who don't have the financial means to otherwise receive quality treatment. The company was formed by Marcus Hansen, who lost his best friend, Jason Olsen, to drug use: Hansen later discovered that Olsen had been on the waiting list for a rehab facility in Phoenix. Having made the decision to try and seek help and beat his addiction, he was denied the opportunity to do so as he didn't have the financial means to quicken the process.

“After losing my friend, due to the backlog to enter into a state facility, I felt it is my job to help others that are in the same situation, as best I can,” Hansen said. “We are blessed enough to work with some of the best treatment centers in the U.S., allowing us to help people get into these facilities as often as we can.”

Clearly, this is a campaign close to the heart of the business owner -- in fact, a case study of a company created and launched to directly benefit a worthy cause. Giving something back remains rewarding and fulfilling.

Image credit: Flickr/asenat29

Debbie Fletcher is an enthusiastic, experienced writer who has written for a range of difference magazines and news publications. Follow her here: @Debbie_Fletch18.

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