Selfish Giving – The Face of Modern Philanthropy?

Cause marketing has found its ideal platform in social media. As resources like Facebook and Twitter allow brands and nonprofits to collaborate through a single and globally accessible interface. It’s how they collaborate that’s open to design, however, enhanced social awareness and responsibility of the part of consumers has forced many for-profit brands to redefine their nonprofit involvement. As Best Buy demonstrated recently, “selfish giving” (which is refers to the act of consumers purchasing goods or services that are affiliated to a specific cause) is allowing brands to encourage donations from their customers in the course of their daily activities. Promoting Brands and Nonprofits to the Consumer

Backing the youth educational program the Boys and Girls of America, Best Buy pledged to donate $2 for every mobile Facebook check-in made by their customers. As the brand’s first Facebook Check-in for Charity program, Best Buy hopes to engage the consumer and raise up to $250,000 for the nonprofit’s endeavors. They are not alone in using the concept of selfish giving to raise funds and awareness for causes. Social media is playing a key role in this drive.

One of the very best resources in this field is, which provides a platform for brands and nonprofits to collaborate through a range of promotional activities. It affords a brand the opportunity to place a specific code on any type of marketing material that links directly to a customized giving page. This then provides information about the brand’s sponsored cause, which allows for sharing across Twitter and Facebook to raise awareness and encourage donations. Now businesses are able to promote a cause through their own brand marketing campaigns, giving consumers a way to discover viable nonprofits while shopping online.

Why Selfish Giving Gained Popularity

Cinnabon Bakeries used a version of selfish giving to promote their fundraiser for the anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength. By placing a small message on packaging and marketing fliers that encouraged consumers to visit their page and to either share their cause or make a donation, Cinnabon Bakeries were able to raise an estimated $3,800 in just five days for the childhood hunger campaigners. The average donation was $43 per individual, with each costing a mere $3.40 per donation.

These projects show just why selfish giving has gained popularity in 2011. To begin with, we have a depressed economic climate, creating difficult financial times for both brands and consumers. This means that businesses are earning less revenue while consumers have less disposable income to donate to worthwhile causes. So the concept of selfish giving allows for-profit and nonprofit organizations to benefit from single transactions.

Secondary to this we have the role of social media, which is beginning to change the way in which consumers search for, research, and purchase their products. As brands respond to this by marketing their goods through Facebook Pages and Twitter updates, it’s provided an opportunity for nonprofits to partner with relevant companies and target the same social demographic. Given the increased social awareness and responsibility of the modern-day consumer, causes are able to spread quickly and efficiently through social media and its users.

The Bottom Line

While many accept that selfish giving provides an excellent opportunity for nonprofits like the Boys and Girls of America to prosper, some claim that it should not be confused with straight philanthropy. Given the strained economic climate and a high level of global unemployment however, selfish giving through cause marketing allows consumers to satisfy their sense of social responsibility without spending income they do not have. This is not to be underestimated as we enter 2012 and cause marketing continues as the fastest-growing area of nonprofit activity.


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