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Community: A Heartfelt and Committed Approach to Giving

Pat Kahnert is a corporate marketing and communications consultant, helping business, not-for-profit and government organizations to add clarity, credibility and impact to their work. In Putting Community Investment Criteria Into Action Pat describes a number of key criteria that are essential in building and implementing effective investment programs...

The right community sponsorship commitment can be a powerful marketing communications vehicle that clarifies, proclaims and enhances an organization's customer care, employee care, and community care priorities.

There is a nice connection between Pat's thoughts here and Johnnie Moore's More Thoughts On Thinking and Doing.

So what precisely is this "right community sponsorship commitment" that Pat refers to. The idea of a "community investment model" moves our thinking along the lines of finance, donation and sponsorship. But what I hear Pat calling for is the authentic involvement of people in addition to the integration of money.

2. Engage your front-line employees in designing and implementing your plans: Charity leaders tell me that if they had to choose between a company's money or its people, they would pick the people every time. Why? Because people-power brings more than money to the table. Plus, charities know that if your people are sold on supporting their cause, personally and as teams, then it won't be long before they convince the company's decision-makers to contribute corporately. And - more and more companies view corporate social responsibility as an effective employee recruitment vehicle.

Another interesting point Pat makes is:

6. Make a list of key community stakeholders: Don't just write a cheque, but rather identify the people you really want to reach through your community investment. The people who matter most to your organization's success will tell you what they think of your plans and programs for community involvement.

What Pat is crafting here is a system of interaction. This is an area that is often left undeveloped in many projects perhaps because there are so few people that really pay attention to interaction as a potential source of design for learning. A media theorist might refer to this system as patterns of interfacing.

Pat's final point sums the issue up quite nicely:

A list of criteria by itself cannot guarantee success. What matters most is what you do at each step of your list. The way you do it will enable you to do something special that makes a meaningful difference. A heartfelt and committed approach to giving has a significant affect on how people perceive the value of your contribution to their community

In Pat's words are the echoes of Stephen Biko's heroic community initiatives that provide a clear and authentic example of just exactly what a heartfelt and committed approach to giving can mean in real life.

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