No Good Deed Goes Unpunished - Thoughts on American Cancer Society's Chief Medical Officer Stepping Down
This article was written in response to a NYT article describing why EVP and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Otis W. Brawley chose to step down after 11 years at the American Cancer Society.
Nowadays, both nonprofits and corporations are being put to task on their corporate partnerships and cause-related initiatives. Consumers and constituents expect and at times demand, a crystal clear link between the cause and company. While most of us can agree that synergy is the number one goal for commercial co-ventures, it is by no means an easy objective to achieve.
I wholeheartedly agree that partnerships need to benefit both parties and nonprofits must seek to steer clear of companies and celebrities who could diminish their brand reputation. Most of us would like to see more cause-related partnerships that demonstrate synergy from start to finish.
As mentioned in the article, this comes at tumultuous time when nonprofits are experiencing a dramatic shift in giving trends across the board. We have all seen a significant decline in participation and fundraising around peer-to-peer events, sponsorship dollars, and federal funding. In order to meet the financial demands fuel our prospective missions, we are all faced with difficult decisions on if/when to enter into partnerships with companies who are considered "off-brand" or, in the example of A.C.S., arguably counter-intuitive the overall mission of the organization.
However, one very key component missing from this article, which I rarely hear come up in the cause-marketing conversation, is when business leaders and employees on the corporate side have a personal connection to the cause and endeavor to utilize their company's resources to give back and exponentially increase their giving power.
As someone formerly tasked with forging partnerships at a cancer organization, I know that calls with current and prospective corporate partners almost always begin with their personal and oftentimes traumatic experiences with cancer. We forget that companies are comprised of real-life everyday people doing the best they can to make ends meet and contribute to causes they care about. They alone may not be able to make a significant contribution, but their companies could.
While I can't say that I agree with all corporate/nonprofit partnerships, I really respect their dedication to do something larger and more meaningful with their time and resources. After all, they are considered "citizens" of this country.