Communicate on its sponsorship, an impossible task?

According to some recent studies, communication and sponsorship would not always go hand in hand. Both internally and externally, information on “non-profit” subjects is effectively abandoned in favor of “useful” communication: life of the enterprise (its results, contracts, innovations, etc.).

Internal communication, a lever that has become capital

Few employees are aware of the sponsorship actions of their company and sometimes do not even know that it has a Corporate Foundation! Whose fault? Many factors are to be taken into account, but the first of these is the distance between teams devoted to the general interest of those working on the company’s commercial strategy (press department, marketing). Sponsorship, philanthropy, or Foundations often form a “world apart” within the company. Some Corporate Foundations even have their own headquarters outside the company’s walls.

Isolated from the corporate communication departments, and thus from the global communications strategy, the Foundations do not always integrate communication managers and thus rely on central teams whose priority is to focus on topics more marketing oriented. Communicating on the gain of money rather than on giving is still the “nerve of war” of communication.

Yet, with the arrival of Y and Z generations, corporate commitment to “non-profit” has become essential; it must be known, at least internally! Explain the reasons for this commitment, regularly inform the actions, and engage, why not, the employees in missions of volunteering or skills sponsorship: all these communication actions have become critical. It is about mobilizing employees, attract talents, and above all … keeping them.

External communication still neglected

When we try to analyze the communication of companies on their philanthropic actions (excluding CSR), the observation is variable but often revocable: they are rarely highlighted in “home page” websites. They are most often included in the headings of HR, CSR, Sustainable Development, Values, etc., or in annual reports and/or sustainable development reports, but combined with waste reduction, carbon footprint, safety at work … therefore not very visible to the general public, because who really reads these reports?

Corporate Foundations of large groups generally have a dedicated website, which gives them a real visibility. Some, such as the SNCF or Orange Foundation for example, who even created their own newsletter, widely distributed. They thus communicate beyond the boundaries of the company and can thus compensate the absence of press coverage, as journalists are still suspicious of philanthropy in general.

Social networks are also a valuable and indispensable aid in communication on “non-profit”. Again, few Foundations have implemented a real digital communication strategy: a recent study conducted by CarenewsGroup showed that of the 125 foundations studied, only 35% of them have a Facebook account and 26% a Twitter account, which is little compared to the impact that social networks have today, both on the general public and the employees of the companies that are part of it. Why such an absence? Because, like all communication, this requires a team of professionals not available within the Foundations, the majority of them having less than 3 employees.

Philanthropy, sponsorship or Foundations have not yet found a real place in their own companies. However, according to a recent study conducted by the French Center for Funds and Foundations (CFF), the sector is experiencing a real change and a renewal that involves the professionalization of teams dedicated to the general interest.

Pascale Strubel

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French version