Commentary

Wake-up Call For Nonprofits, Part II

Last month’s article talked about the dramatic and sadly increasing disparity between the haves and the have-nots and how luxury brands used to disperse their giving to a wide range of nonprofits and did very little to promote their good corporate citizenship.  

The increasingly critical eye of media, the transparency that ensues, the instantaneous, lightning speed of word-of-web, luxury brands' corporate citizenship and philanthropic giving is in the spotlight as never before. Leading luxury brands are demanding of nonprofits a level of accountability, entrepreneurship, creativity, qualitative and quantitative measures of success as never before. We looked at key trends and the implications for nonprofits. How luxury brands are:

 • Aligning with causes that have a more literal connection to the brand’s business, vision and mission. 

• Consolidating their corporate giving and involvements to one or two select causes.   

•  Demanding that nonprofits move from a begging-bowl mentality to a true business-partner, ROI mindset.

• Importantly, becoming much more creative in the way they design and promote out-of-the-box initiatives with nonprofits.

Here are some recent and inspiring examples:

• Harry Winston created a limited-edition of 40 timepieces in support of amfAR. The “Countdown to a Cure” watches are part of the brand’s Midnight Collection. Only 20 men’s and 20 women's.

• Rosewood created Mini (the car)-sized hampers filled with holiday treats, including oversize candy canes, large presents and giant gingerbread cookies. A bespoke hamper was also auctioned off – starting bid $27,000. Included in the hamper were a weekend stay at Rosewood’s Manor House Suite with butler service, spa treatment and dinner, a weekend stay at a villa in Rosewood’s Castiglion del Bosco in Tuscany, a dress by Louise Kennedy, dressing gown from Turnbull & Asser and Perrier Jouët Champagne. Proceeds went to One For the Boys founded by Samuel Jackson which raises awareness of male cancers through education and clinics. 

• Marc Jacobs went to the dogs for a holiday charity initiative with The Sato Project. The brand created a specially designed t-shirt to benefit the organization, which works to rescue abused and abandoned dogs from Puerto Rico. To promote the charity campaign, Marc Jacobs has turned to its namesake designer’s pet bull terrier Neville, himself a celebrity.

• Montblanc supported Best Buddies (volunteers that create opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities) disabilities by donating 11 percent of its March proceeds to Best Buddies International.

• Ralph Lauren’s Pink Pony Promise asked their best customers to take a photo of themselves, talk about how they support the fight against cancer and post it to Twitter, Instagram or the dedicated web page.

•  Kering has committed to publishing a transparent, ethical profit and loss statement by 2016, the first global conglomerate to do so. The group’s focus on running a sustainable business does not interfere with Kering’s portfolio. Each brand has their own environmentally friendly targets and sustainability initiatives.

•  Nomi Network creates economic opportunities for survivors of or victims of sex trafficking in Cambodia or India by equipping them with leadership, survivor and entrepreneurship skills needed to become financially independent. Their innovative fashion incubator in Cambodia provides women with the opportunity to take fashion courses equivalent to what one would learn at Fashion Institute of Technology but customized to their cultural and educational level.  Less than three years ago, most of these women could not even sign their names As a result, Nomi Network is having discussions with major luxury brands that recognize the talent gap in developing countries.

Nomi Network has also engaged celebrity actress, sculptor, designer Mamie Gummer, daughter of actress Meryl Streep, to design a collection of products for Nomi Network to be made by survivors and women at risk of human trafficking.

In this bold new world of evolving corporate citizenship, as luxury brands in their giving become more demanding of a private sector approach and the most strategically nimble nonprofits more adroit in responding, everyone, especially the communities served, will win.

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