Good deeds: Great spirit and incredible marketing

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Eva’s Phoenix provides accommodation for Toronto-area homeless youth. The Carpenters Union Local 27 has contributed $100,000 to support the construction of a new facility to replace the existing one (which will be demolished soon to make room for a condo development.)

In a way, the news release announcing Carpenters Union Local 27‘s $100,000 contribution to support the capital campaign to relocate a Toronto youth homeless shelter/facility is a simple story. But underlying the media event to announce the contribution (as far as I can tell, initiated and sponsored by Eva’s Phoenix Rising, rather than the union), there is another story — about really great marketing when you don’t seem and intend to be marketing at all.

The well-established union, which has its share of controversial challenges (as not all employers are eager for their employees to be unionized and, while the union may disagree, not all carpenters want to be under the union’s rubric or experience compulsory certification through the Ontario College of Trades), doesn’t need to say anything more about its place in society than by contributing to an organization/cause that aligns with its interests and values.

Likely, some homeless youth may discover careers in the carpentry trade and become dues-paying union members. And the $10.2 million project to relocate Eva’s will most likely need Carpenters Union members on the job site (and hopefully union members will also find work at the new condos to be built at the charity’s existing location.)

These points don’t matter, however.

The union simply made a significant contribution to a good cause, and deserves positive recognition. And that recognition transcends the actual contribution value to enhance the organization’s image and community respect — and influence in its objectives to represent it’s members’ interests.

Now, most likely you aren’t reading this note as a union business manager and I know some employers personally who have rather strong feelings about the union (and organized labour in general).

But when I look at the biggest complainers, the angriest “it’s unfair to me” cries, and try to correlate their noise with their community spirit and generosity, I come up with a rather dismal result.

Conversely, I see plenty of businesses and organizations that make it their business to contribute significantly to relevant community projects. Ironically, the ones I respect the most don’t make it a very public thing, or their focus in their publicity is purely on the cause and charity rather than their own business.  (I especially appreciate Robert Merkley’s (Merkley Supply Ltd.) work with The Ride, an annual cancer research fund-raising event in Ottawa.)

If you are in business, please don’t underestimate the value of sincere community and charitable support in your marketing. Remember, this works best when you provide the support (perhaps based on the leadership/initiative of your employees) without worrying about marketing value, recognition and anything that can seen as self-serving, and is in line with your business values and objectives.

If nothing else, in this post, both Carpenters Union 27 and Merkley Supply Ltd. have received some free positive publicity and hyperlinks. They didn’t ask for it, or pay our business for the recognition. They earned it through their deeds and actions.

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