Sorry!! The article you are trying to read is not available now.
Thank you very much;
you're only a step away from
downloading your reports.

Hey, Fat Cat Banker! You Can Redeem Yourself


Giving with heart is the first step.

When you've worked for an organization that's been around for 156 years, it's like being married for a long time -- you've endured enough hard times to have learned the lessons needed to weather the next one.

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.

Bank of America (BAC) has taken the lead with this idea. On December 15, the bank's charitable foundation awarded $2 million to Feeding America, the Meals On Wheels Association of America, and Save the Children -- all organizations that help people weather the economic downturn.

"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.
No positions in stocks mentioned.

The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.

Copyright 2011 Minyanville Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Featured Videos