On Giving . . .
Again this year, Marilynn and I watched the two-hour “CNN Heroes” television program that honors individuals from around the world, who give their personal energy and limited resources to helping others in need. Topics range from a grey-haired women in Nepal who devotes her energies to rescuing children from prison terms served with a convicted parent, and then taking care of them in her own home (2012 Top 10 Hero of the year), to a former addict in Butte, Montana who operates a rescue mission for homeless drug addicts. The activities of each of these compassionate “heroes” is presented in a brief giant-screen pictorial before a large celebrity audience prior to presentation of each hero award Donations are encouraged during and after the sponsored program through an appropriate website.
Giving is a global phenomenon that occurs wherever an apparent need occurs that is witnessed by a resourceful benefactor. In a great many cases, the “hero” does not have personal resources equal to the apparent need, but rather contributes his/her personal energy and creativity to addressing a contrived solution to the need. Friends and family members often are recruited to share in the solution with donations of energy and modest funding. The personal touch is far more important than the scale of the operation.
Of course, religious celebrants provide annual gifts to family members and special friends in observance of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and other holy observances as well as individual birthdays. These annual rites of giving, at least in The United States, have become commercialized to the extent that the giving, in many cases, has become separated from the rationale for the observance. The institution of the “Black Friday” discount shopping day has popularized personal self-gifting over holiday giving.
Commercial giving continues to expand in this country as a motivation for reciprocity. A gift from someone, or a corporate entity, entails some unspoken obligation for giving something in return. This practice among political lobbyists has escalated into graft convictions for some prominent legislators. One of the most common examples of this extension of giving occurs among real estate developers, particularly the large-scale time-share operators who offer the gift of hotel lodging in Las Vegas or a warm-weather resort in turn for experiencing their sales Pinnacle promotions – profit margins must be substantial to afford such gifts. Indeed, thousands of recipients accept these lodging gifts with no intention of purchase, but find that they become mesmerized by the well-tuned promotion and end up the proud owners of a time-share week for life.
At a smaller gift scale, the practice of giving has become a motivator for real estate agents and prospective purchasers to attend promotional events either to receive a modest-price giveaway or to enter a raffle for a high-price giveaway (or both). Such practices, often supported by free food and drink, have become commonplace to promote new communities, model homes and even single resale home offerings. In some cities, real estate agents can enjoy gift luncheons every week, regardless of their interest in the products being offered. They have become social functions with little obligation evidenced by the recipients.
The real issue for hosts of real estate gifting is the best means of producing cost-effective gift promotions. The objective, of course, is to introduce the product offering, be it one resale home or an entire community of homes and/or homesites, to potential purchasers through direct appeal, or indirect appeal to selling agents who might represent more than one prospective purchaser. Some critics of this practice claim that these gift offers only attract freeloaders who do not include best-selling real estate agents – the top producers are too busy matching their own prospects with suitable homes. But proponents argue that these events are a relatively modest means of introducing their offerings to a large cross-section of sales professionals (assuming the selected day, time and gifts are convenient for the preferred sales agents).
One possibility for greater attraction that has received surprisingly low attention is to link the attendance gift with a real gift to a worthwhile charity – an opportunity for potential participants to contribute to a widely accepted charitable organization recognized for its good works in the larger community by simply participating in the event. Such a win-win promotion doubles the effectiveness of the event by friendly publicity for the sponsor and its product as well as a larger turnout of sales professionals. In fact, well-known corporations have generated long-term sponsorship relations with honest charities that have proven mutually beneficial without any reciprocal obligation – a public-private partnership that generates immediate and lasting attention by sympathetic adherents. Public radio and television stations have promoted such liaisons for many years with clear benefits to both charitable and corporate partners.
In this way, the practice of gifting can be applied to both charitable and corporate objectives with definable benefits to both parties. Try it, you’ll like the results, as well as feel good about the results of the charitable partner.
DFP/ December 2012