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Quit Wishing! Start Doing!

For the past couple of years I have been considering, to the consternation of my economist colleagues at Kalamazoo College, the merits of social economics. I agree with them that the subject area is not well developed, but conceptually I am intrigued by the testing of the “rational man” concept. I believe and certainly can support anecdotally that many people participate in economic behavior that is irrational from the standpoint that certain decisions do not seemingly maximize the wealth outcome to economic decision-makers.

In other words, “doing good” has value to many people, even if it costs them financially. Indeed, many people value good deeds, which, in the corporate context, can be defined by many of the activities included within corporate social responsibility (e.g., safe labor conditions, fair remuneration, and environmental stewardship). I think if companies act genuinely and substantively in conducting business responsibly, they will be rewarded by customers, shareholders and other stakeholders.

Thinking back to my “float” across the Gulf of Mexico, I read some notes last night that I wrote a month ago.

This is a call out to Royal Caribbean International. I have been your customer this past week, and I do not appreciate your efforts to support the Make a Wish Foundation. I know you think that selling t-shirts for $10 or so is a noble gesture, but I disagree. Your benevolence strategy is myopic, shallow and gimmicky. Your puffery is a big turnoff. And I despise your branding of passenger benevolence. I want to see you open your wallet, not your passengers’ wallets.

Instead of brokering passenger dollars to the foundation, why not actually make a wish? Here is an idea: have a Make-A-Wish recipient family on every cruise? Then, with the family on board, let’s raise money, without all of the Royal Caribbean hoopla, for the family’s medical expenses or travel expenses to and from the terminal. We can funnel the funds through the Make-A Wish foundation. Certainly, your marketing folks can create the appropriate alliances to make this work genuinely and meaningfully. You really need to adopt a posture of humility and respect for the beneficiary. Your conversation needs to be about them, not you. If you cannot get there, call my classmate, Jeff Swartz, CEO, of the Timberland Company – he’s pretty darn good at doing the right thing with the right attitude.

You see, Royal Caribbean, meaningful benevolence creates passenger admiration and loyalty, which translates into a more sizable and stable revenue and profit stream for the company – corporate value, via benevolence is created by doing good and doing it well!

2 comments (Add your own)

1. Marigene Arnold wrote:
While I like this idea a lot and agree with you about the cruise line, care would have to be taken not to make the family whose wish has been granted to feel pitied or commercialized by the very gesture you are suggesting. I'd be more impressed if they just sponsored people and didn't toot their own horn about it. Maybe they could put a brochure in each cabin that states "The Royal Caribbean has sponsored Make-A-Wish trips for x number of people this year; won't you join us in supporting this organization by donating money that will be used to support others who have wishes that are not able to be granted by corporations?" Something along those lines...

Thu, March 29, 2012 @ 3:19 PM

2. Tim Moffit wrote:
I agree, Marigene. Good thoughts. In fact, the thought that occured to me while I was on the cruise was to have an entire cruise for Make-A-Wish families. Show me that you are serious about benevolence. Do something big, yet without fanfare. Act genuinely, humbly and significantly.

Thu, March 29, 2012 @ 8:49 PM

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