Feature Article - July/August 2012

The Spirit of Giving

Getting Business Gifts Right, From Audience to Budget to Timing

By Tammy York

Budget for More Than Just the Gift

The budget must include funding for the entire process of giving the gift. "It is important when developing the budget because there is also the cost of shipping, and the size of the product directly impacts the shipping costs, which are not going down," Ludwig said. "Additional finishing touches, like gift wrapping and handwritten cards, are going to add to the cost, but they are also going to make for a better impression when the gift is delivered."

The old saying, "It is the thought that counts," doesn't necessarily apply if the gift is poorly given. You can do an inexpensive gift, but you absolutely must put in the time and effort to package it in a nice box, gift-wrap the box, include a handwritten signed note and deliver the gift on time.


There is a growing trend to incorporate social and environmental good into your corporate gift. "There is also a trend in giving gifts that have meaning, do social good and contribute to shared memory," said Dave Peer, president of Helping Hands Rewards, a company that helps connect social enterprises that produce merchandise and businesses looking to enhance their rewards and recognition programs while improving their role in corporate social responsibility.

There is a growing marketplace for socially responsible products. Consumers are willing to spend more money on such projects, and when companies giving the gifts are also being socially responsible, it is a win, win, win scenario.

For example, a socially responsible gift purchased from the job development company, Bright Endeavors, which helps homeless and at-risk moms 18 to 24 by providing housing and training and is the manufacturer of a line of high-quality eco-friendly products, not only gives a tangible gift to the recipient, but also hits on key points—it is both socially and environmentally responsible, as well as functional. Bright Endeavors makes natural soy candles in reclaimed glass and Dead Sea bath salts and bath teas with all proceeds used to support New Moms' programming and place participants into quality, permanent employment.

Companies seeking socially responsible gifts should also look for gifts that are Fair Trade-certified. "Fair Trade typically guarantees workers are guaranteed fair wage for that economy and that the work environment is safe," Peer said. "So the end users can immediately feel like they have done something terrific when they redeem their points and now the companies they work for are doing something good for the world as well."

Using a points-based system is much easier with everything being electronic including the points, e-based catalogs, points management system and the communications between the company, gift recipient and gift vendor.

"Now, it is easier to make the connections, and those are far stronger and much more immediate since you don't have lag time," Peer said. "It increases your sensitivity so you can react quickly and respond better to what people want."

"We do a lot of holiday gift-giving programs that are around the purpose of doing good," Peer added. "Marriott hotels sends their top customers 10 Bean Soup and Bread Bundle around their theme of reconnecting with family during holiday time and it was a huge success for them."

The 10 Bean Soup Bundle is made by the Women's Bean Project, a social enterprise that offers a transitional job in gourmet food manufacturing designed to provide immediate income, arrange support services to overcome barriers to employment, and teach the job readiness skills needed to get and keep a job.

"An increasing number of companies are making a commitment to social responsibility, and giving back to the community is becoming a way of life," Peer said. "Companies are making a conscious decision to say as a company we want to make a statement about caring for the community and giving back and to embrace that as a core value going forward."