2018 Pay It Forward – a Holiday Tradition

Balaji Krishnamurthy

The holiday season is here, and we like to convey our greetings to our friends and colleagues. In the past, companies would do so by sending greeting cards via snail-mail. More recently, technology prompted companies to substitute the greeting cards with a cute email greeting. Other companies chose to make a charitable contribution in lieu of sending greeting cards.

In December 2007, we questioned the appropriateness of hired corporate management using shareholder money to make charitable contributions to their favorite charities. We also questioned whether holiday emails sent by corporations, often indicating a charitable donation in lieu of holiday greeting cards, achieve the “touch and contact” benefits intended by the traditional practice of sending greeting cards. With that as the backdrop, we offered a provocative proposal that we now repeat annually. We hope you will read on and consider participating in this idea of paying it forward.

Imagine if corporations adopted the following approach. The company sends an email to its business colleagues, inviting each recipient to make a personal contribution to his or her favorite charitable cause, upon which the company sending the email would make a matching contribution to that cause. While matching of contributions made by employees of a company is common, extending a matching offer to a third party outside the company – particularly as a way of a holiday greeting – is more provocative. This might motivate the recipient to notice the email greeting card and achieve its intended purpose.

Think Shift has decided to adopt this approach, with this Food for Thought mailing serving as our proxy for the greeting card.

First, let us wish you happy holidays and a prosperous New Year. Additionally, you are invited, as a recipient of this mailing, to make a charitable contribution to your favorite cause – subject to the requirements below – and we will match up to $100 USD of your contribution, limiting this offer to a total of $1,000 USD of matching contributions on a first-come, first-served basis.

The charitable organization must be a non-profit and cannot be a religious organization. (In the U.S. it must be a 501(c)(3) qualified organization, and in Canada it must be listed as a registered charity with the CRA.) You must  send us an email  by December 14 with the following information:

  • The name of the charitable organization and its contact info.
  • Your name and the amount of your intended contribution.
  • A pledge that you will make the indicated contribution by the end of the calendar year. This offer cannot be applied to past contributions you have already made prior to receiving this mailing.
  • A statement from you indicating that Think Shift is permitted to publish your name along with the amount and recipient of your contribution in next month’s Food for Thought.
  • Optionally, a quotation that may be attributed to you as to what you thought of this idea.

We will make a matching contribution – limited to the constraints above – to your chosen cause and inform you immediately that we are doing so. We will also publish the names of the people that responded and received matching contributions in next month’s Food for Thought mailing.

Our hope is that, with this provocative approach, both of our intended purposes will be served. First, our touchpoint with you would be meaningful. It might cause you to pause and ponder, possibly take us up on our offer, and maybe even bring the topic up at your holiday cocktail party. We would very much like others to consider this idea. So, if you mention this idea at a holiday party or the equivalent, please share your story with us. We’d love to hear it! Second, that together, we might contribute to some worthy cause. Please do respond to this offer.

Over the years, many of you have flattered us by adopting this idea for your company. If you do so, we would love to hear about your experiences. But no matter what you decide, we wish you a happy holiday and a prosperous New Year.

Food for Thought is our way of sharing interesting concepts on corporate leadership and management with others who might find it useful. The thoughts offered are intended to be controversial and thought-provoking. To learn more or discuss this further, contact our team at (503) 789-1338 or hello@thinkshiftinc.com.


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