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Firms Learn that as They Help Charities, They Also Help Their Brands

Monday, November 6, 2017

Adopting a tiger in India, donating yoga classes to disadvantaged children in Los Angeles or building homes for residents of a struggling New Jersey city might seem unrelated.

But in corporate philanthropy, they are part of the same trend: a desire by companies to show customers and employees that they are not just interested in profits, but that they care about the state of the world. And saying so is not enough. So determined are they to show impact — the latest buzzword in philanthropy — that they are marshaling metrics to prove it.

So important are those metrics, in fact, the measuring has spawned an industry of its own.

Consider Subaru of America.

In the first nine months of this year, 512 employees have volunteered their time for 105 events for 46 different organizations.

Seventy-four employees donated 500 hours to build three Habitat for Humanity homes in Camden, N.J., a poor city a few minutes from Subaru’s headquarters in Cherry Hill.

On the West Coast, 88 employees have donated 270 hours to assemble wheelchairs that were donated to veterans. Employees have filled 2,000 backpacks for schoolchildren.

For a company like Subaru, with a brand image of being outdoors, dependable, inclusive and kind, those metrics help attract great employees. They also help the company’s marketing campaign.