IS the Big Cheque Overused? OMG Yes!

I committed a Communication sin last week. But a look through the local paper today shows I was not alone…I used….THE BIG CHEQUE to signify the donation to a charitable cause…Open mouth. Exude Yawn. Rolle eyes.

In the modern world of donations, the Big Cheque is dead. Why is it so many Communicators still turn to this sad gesture to show CSR?

  1. 1. Easy = Ineffective. Corporate Social Responsibility is not cheque writing. Social Investment is a real hard and fast commitment to communities served. It is working along side them and with them to make their world better. While some donations are involved in this process, what is not, is the empty gesture. Be real people, the big cheque IS an empty gesture.
  2. 2. Big = Small. Often, the amounts reflected on the “Big Cheques” are drops in the bucket. Um, $5,000TT for Haitian Relief Efforts…do you REALLY want the WORLD to question how EFFECTIVE that donation will be? No one is saying that the gifts are meaningless, but hey, give a little more especially when it comes to PR.

So What instead?

• LOCATION + ACTION: The media conference of today is an orchestrated photo op. Think Michelle Obama planting a Garden at the WhiteHouse instead of making a speech about the importance of agriculture…The message was in the action and it hit home. Who DID NOT plant a kitchen garden last summer? (note, we do NOT have summer in the Caribbean…I use this term as an example) Sponsoring Golf? Have a “launch pic” with your executive hitting a golf ball or holding a Tee. Donating funds for a children’s home? Skip the press conference and hold a breakfast or teaparty for the kids instead and invite the media along to get pics of your “peoples” actually DOING something. Get the drift? NO BIG CHEQUE!

  • • STEP BACK: Hmmm. No branding at the event? OMG right? Wrong. Use what I call the “Black Friends” approach. Have the company/ organization receiving the funds speak and host the “media conference” and have your boss shut up. Imagine the impact a tour of a dilapidated home will have combined with a the owners of said home talking about what the funds will do for them. SO much more effective than you standing and saying all YOUR company will do to improve lives….Step Back for impact.


Others talking can have more impact than you opening your mouth…its like a non black person saying they have lots of black friends in response to being called a racist….no one listens but THEY will listen to the ONE black friend that stands up and says – that guy, no matter what colour he is, he’s my friend. Nuff Said. Please kill the big cheques. I’ll try to as well.


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3 Responses to “IS the Big Cheque Overused? OMG Yes!”

  1. Mark Lyndersay Says:

    PR LADY! CorpComm GYAL! Now you’re talking my kind of talk. I am so very over the presentation as a way to convey anything useful to people that I refuse to do it anymore. Of course, I could make some more money if I did that kind of photo, but it really does grate my soul.
    Down on my knees here hoping that Corporate Communications professionals begin to understand that the contribution should be part of a process and one that’s worth documenting if the support is going to make real changes in people’s lives and circumstances.
    I continue to be astonished that folks don’t see the relevance in the storytelling I do in Local Lives (that’s here: to the kind of documentation that really makes long term corporate contributions spring to life in a corporate social responsibility report.
    The deeply curious can listen to a vidcast about the process here:
    I’m happy to talk to your colleagues about how this kind of narrative can deepen the understanding and value of CSR in effective practice.

  2. caribbeancontessa Says:

    Hey – these are very good resources. I will talk to IABC. I see/ smell and taste a roundtable discussion? hmmm

  3. Mark Lyndersay Says:

    I have got to start converting those older presentations from static PDFs to vidcasts. Perhaps an opportunity arising from that might be a good occasion to update the presentations on using photography in corporate communications.

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