Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Would You Take A Donation From Wal-Mart?

I gave a talk yesterday about doing public relations for not-for-profit organizations to Taimi Gorman's communications class at Western Washington University. I asked students whether, as the PR professionals they were to become, would they recommend taking corporate contributions from Wal-Mart?

The answers ranged from "Yes" ('that's less money they will have') to "Depends" ('what will you have to do in return' and 'who will get upset').  Except for one categorical "NO" ('not as an anarchist organization'), no one chose to answer by drawing a bright line against it.

That surprised me because I've had that discussion and I've recommended drawing that bright line against taking money from Wal-Mart, period. I've argued that, while some people would be upset and some people wouldn't be, it wouldn't be worth it to create a situation of choosing one side instead of the other. And, honestly, is taking that money any different than how a corporate political contribution looks like it 'buys'?

I don't support the Wal-Mart business model and don't think Wal-Mart is good for our communities, period. Does what I personally believe make a difference? Should it? Live long enough and you should get to know the feeling of having to do something you personally don't believe in.

We never got to that part of the discussion in class. I remarked how young and fresh they all were. I hope they all do well.

--Mike Sato

Salish Sea Communications: Truth Well Told

1 comment:

  1. You are absolutely correct. Nonprofits need a socially responsible contributions policy.

    It was interesting when Walmart started its organic food program a couple years ago. But it still doesn't make it OK to partner with them. Do you want Walmart to do to natural/organic food markets what it did to other small retailers? That's the unsustainable future a donation from Walmart supports.

    Walmart employees have atrocious health insurance. A free clinic that takes donations from Walmart is supporting the company responsible for part of their patient load.

    A group that takes donations from irresponsible corporations is part of The Problem.


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