A small bit of good public relations goes a long way. And good public relations often involves a healthy does of generosity. Walmart understood this recently when creating their “12 Days of Giving” campaign under the colorful, homey-designed Holiday Giving tab on their Facebook page. The super retailer claims that it will be shortly giving away $1.5M to community organizations, but first seeks assistance from FB friends’ in identifying such worthy groups. In a time when large companies can easily be associated with Ebenezer Scrooge- over low pay, disallowing unions, limited benefits or sending jobs overseas- Walmart smartly aligns itself with Santa Claus.
Facebook friends are encouraged to nominate their favorite local nonprofit through Walmart’s page and the company is particularly looking for organizations “that are providing basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing and baby supplies,” so that families won’t have to worry about such things, especially during the holidays. It doesn’t hurt that all of those items- except for shelter- are amongst Walmart’s specialty. A good part of the nonprofits’ purchases may occur at the ubiquitous retailer, thus a cycling of the money back into Walmart.
Over 1,700 have liked the Holiday Giving tab, but the positive effects will ripple far beyond Walmart’s Facebook page. This approach to giving back is canny for a few reasons. The total money distributed- $1.5M- will make a nice difference for many groups and their needy benefactors, but is just a tiny drop in the bucket for the multi-billion dollar behemoth. Word will spread organically throughout communities, and wherever free items are being distributed it will likely be as if Walmart is getting the benefits of an official sponsorship. Additionally, Walmart is actively involving its online fan base, getting them chatting in their own communities about the need and benefit of such nonprofit organizations and, by extension, Walmart’s largesse. In this “Black Friday” time of the year, other companies would be smart to replicate Walmart’s association with generosity, concern and the “true” meaning of the holidays.