Charitable Christmas: Donations as a company gift

by epi on December 4, 2012

Q: When sending out the corporate Christmas card, is it appropriate for a company to mention that it has made a donation to a charity, even if this donation wasn’t made on behalf of anyone receiving the card?

A: Corporate gifts at holiday time are a time-honored tradition especially to good clients or suppliers.  Most often the gift is something physical that the whole office can share and enjoy, such as a box of chocolates or a selection of dried fruit.  An alternative is for a company to take its gift budget and use it instead to make a donation to a charity in the names of the firms that would otherwise have received gifts.  When a company makes this sort of charitable contribution, it’s acceptable to note it on the card.  Typically, such donations are not made on behalf of individuals, but on behalf of all the companies that are receiving the card in lieu of a gift.

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Country Girl December 4, 2012 at 2:38 pm

While good information, I don’t know that the EPI really answered the question. No. It is not appropriate for a company to mention a donation made that doesn’t involve the receiver. It sends the message of “Look what we’ve done! Aren’t we generous?” as opposed to the true purpose of a card which is wishing the company or client a nice holiday.

The only reasons I can think to include a donation in a card are 1) if the donation were made on behalf of the receiver either individually or as a group (and I’m not a fan of this unless you know without a doubt that the organization receiving the donation is one which the individual or company actually supports) or 2) the receiver played a part, monetary or otherwise, in earning the money for the donation to be made and was being thanked for their contribution. Ie. “We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks for your donation of paper goods for our annual holiday fundraiser. Your generous contribution made it possible for us to earn over $4000 for the XYZ charity.”

Barring these reasons, a company should instead put accomplishments such as donations on its website, or better yet, in its holiday newsletter.

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