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Outreach Needs to Reflect Corporate Strategy

Although I am a professed chocoholic, I — like most Americans — complain about my weight. And I recognize I could reduce my waistline if I demonstrated some form of restraint rather than consuming large amounts of sweet treats. But I don’t.

Consequently, you could say I’m not committed to my strategy.

While this is true of me, I expect business to be more strategic and to demonstrate consistency. That is why I am always puzzled when a cashier asks me if I’d like to donate candy to a children’s hospital, the troops overseas, or an area shelter. How can these companies — with health and wellness components included in their Corporate Social Responsibility strategy — ask me to donate a candy bar when there is a known obesity problem, which is obviously detrimental to good health?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining about the “giving concept” or the product itself. I believe community relations programs are extremely important. And, I’m known for adding a dollar or two to my bill to help a good cause. Nor do I harbor ill will against candy makers, as I eat chocolate like vitamins. However, an organization’s “disconnect” between its actions and stated philosophy is truly a missed opportunity.

As retailers design their 2011 community programs, cause-related marketing initiatives and philanthropic agenda, they should tap into their creativity and re-read their Corporate Social Responsibility platform to ensure they develop ideas that reinforce their CSR mission. By doing so, they publicly support — rather than undermine — their stewardship platform. This provides an opportunity to transform the words in a report or on a web page into a living example. Such actions are likely to gain accolades from special interest groups and minimize scrutiny from the government.

And besides, when a company consistently executes unique initiatives that compliment as well as complement its corporate citizenship agenda, the organization enhances its brand identity and builds a positive reputation with customers, potential shoppers and employees.