I've been on a bit of break from my years of pointing out the foibles of #embeddedgiving - or what the industry calls cause marketing. Two things bring it back to my attention:
1. Amazon's gotten into the game. This is huge because Amazon is, well, Amazonian. Earlier this week the online retailing behemoth announced that it's AmazonSmile program would let shoppers donate 0.5% of their purchase price to the charities of their choice. That's nice. But why don't they just give you the discount, let you donate the money to the charity of your choice, and let you keep the warm glow, credit, and tax break for yourself? By funneling it through Amazon are you making your life easier or are you just letting Amazon take credit for your largess?
Why do you need an intermediary to give away your money? Just about any organization you want to support has a Donate Now button of their own.
When you take Amazon up on its 0.5% donation, guess who gets credit for the donation? Amazon. Credit for your spending your money. Hmmm. And the costs Amazon incurs to run this program? Where do you think they'll show up and to whom will they be passed on? What an irony - call it a discount, take all the credit, and pass on any additional costs for running the program to customers somewhere else. This is what really happens with embedded giving.
2. Breast cancer awareness fatigue. Finally, this has been building for years and the pink-ization of everything is finally getting some of the backlash it's long deserved. See this article in The Guardian for a well-written commentary, there are many, many others.
Embedded giving runs directly counter to efforts to build strategic and effective philanthropy and more accountable nonprofits. It puts intermediaries where none are needed, complicates (if not obfuscates) feedback mechanisms, and is almost entirely unaccounted for and unaccountable.
Please, this holiday season, give. If you want to be part of something, be part of #GivingTuesday. But get what's yours when you give by giving directly to the organizations of your choice.