Hey, Fat Cat Banker! You Can Redeem Yourself
Giving with heart is the first step.
Such is the case right now. This year was bad for the economy, and so it was bad for charities. Some of the donors we relied on simply didn't have the money to give. Investments tanked. And yet our workload increased as children and teens tried to cope with the stresses at home due to unemployment and increased poverty. Our phones rang more than ever with requests for everything from stopping an eviction, helping paying tuition, and helping ending an addiction.
I know, in a way, that Wall Street firms can relate to what I'm talking about. Bear with me as I explain. Some of you actually had a pretty good year. But being called "fat cat bankers" doesn't help your public image. Shareholder pressure caused cash bonuses to be scratched at Goldman Sachs (GS). Two-thirds of Americans have an "unfavorable" view of bankers, according to a Bloomberg National Poll released earlier this month.
We're all going through our own special brand of hard times. But we've been here enough times to know there's a solution. You need to mend a PR problem. Charities need to mend lives. I think we can scratch each other's backs.
Here's how to soften your image with the public that feels you owe them after the bailouts:
- Take a chunk of those profits and, in a very public way, give to those most harmed by the Great Recession.
- Create training programs that will get unemployed people back to work.
- Provide grants to organizations that help homeowners avoid foreclosure.
- If you're in the lending business, create new ways for small businesses to get off the ground or stay afloat.
"Now, more than ever, Bank of America is committed to supporting core human service needs such as hunger relief, housing, and other basic services," said Kerry Sullivan, president of Bank of America Charitable Foundation.
One final piece of advice: Whatever you choose to do, do it from the heart. The average Joe will see right through your attempt to throw money at a problem and then wait for the pat on the back. But if you generate grassroots action within your company, get employees out volunteering in the community, if you hold job fairs in your own conference rooms -- you will see the tide of public opinion turn.
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