When chief executives of property/casualty insurance carriers wholeheartedly commit to corporate giving programs, the benefits can extend beyond helping worthy nonprofit organizations, a public relations expert says.

In a blog posting earlier this week titled, “‘Tis the season for holiday window dressing,” Patrick Hirigoyen, a public relations consultant with 25 years of experience counseling executives, recounts how one company’s ability to thwart a hostile takeover attempt may have been a direct result of its serious approach to philanthropy.

According to Hirigoyen, whose experience in corporate communications roles is mainly with the P/C industry, the company consistently gave back a percentage of its profits to communities where it did business. It offered quarterly grants to nonprofits in defined areas of interest, such as health care, the arts and community development.

When the company was faced with a hostile takeover attempt, it had earned enough respect and support as a result, that community organizations rose up to speak out on behalf of the company to regulators tasked to decide on the proposed acquisition.

The result: The hostile attempt failed, Hirigoyen reported.

He contrasted this company’s practices with the “holiday window dressing” that is likely to come in the weeks ahead from companies that have no community involvement the rest of the year. At these window dressers, managements may hastily select a nonprofit organization and send cards to clients indicating that a contribution had been made “in their name” to the organization.

The approach may create a nice end-of-the-year tax deduction, “but it reveal[s] nothing about the company’s values. Nor [does] it generate goodwill,” Hirigoyen wrote.

“Is sincerity irrelevant as long as the company makes the contribution?” he asks.

Hirigoyen believes an insincere approach is “one more factor behind consumer suspicion of corporations.”

The corporate communications expert has numbers to support his view—from an October survey by Aflac. Among other things, the “2015 Aflac Corporate Social Responsibility Survey” revealed that:

  • 81 percent of respondents said they are more likely to purchase from corporations that are active in philanthropy regularly, as opposed to those giving only during times of need.
  • 66 percent of millennials are likely to invest in a company well-known for its corporate social responsibility program, whereas only 48 percent of those 35 and older would.

Hirigoyen also offers some examples of ways in which companies can demonstrate authenticity in their philanthropy—including property insurers that support local fire and safety programs.

“Firms should commit to a regular support of specific, defined causes that reflect the values of the company,” he writes.

For the “2015 Aflac Corporate Social Responsibility (ACSR), Aflac partnered with Lightspeed GMI to survey 6,000 respondents about their thoughts on corporate social responsibility. The survey was fielded in the United States between Aug. 18 and Sept. 2, 2015.

Hirigoyen’s observations on corporate giving are summarized in a Nov. 27, 2015 posting from The Hirigoyen Group blog at http://thehirigoyengroup.com/blog/