Can Chase Learn from it's Community Giving #fail?

Chase embarked on the largest social media contest to date with the announcement of its Chase Community Giving initiative. The contest was supposed to crowd source their philanthropy, allowing Facebook users to vote on which charities would receive their $5 million.

But as Beth Kanter writes, they changed the rules mid-course. When a few charities they didn't like made it into the top 100, they added new rules to exclude them.

The twittersphere and blogosphere are buzzing like a swarm of angry bees. Chase has definitely violated an implied agreement and people are upset.

Beth gives some suggestions on how Chase could've avoided this gaff in her post Charities Cry Foul on Chase Facebook Charitable Giving Contest. This is well worth reading for any nonprofit looking to run a contest.

But since Chase didn't do it's homework, is it doomed to be the gadfly at the social media party? Not necessarily.

Back in June, Caroline Dangson wrote about JetBlue's use of social media to apologize for it's mistakes. (She even show's images of my tweeted complaint about them and then my excitement that they called!)

Chase has done damage to its image. But one of the things the social media universe loves is authenticity. If I were working for Chase, I'd recommend they come clean about what they've done. Nowadays, it's virtually impossible to change the fine print without someone noticing. So why not just come out and say something like:

"Wow! While we're overwhelmed by the response of our fans to this initiative, we've realized we didn't make our corporate values clear. Those values are x, y, and z. Given these long-standing values, we will not be awarding gifts to certain charities, including those that do this, this, or that.

Rather than changing the terms in a shady sort of way, this would allow Chase to take the highroad. "Yes, we're changing the rules, but it's because of our principled approach to busines."

What do you think? Would that help Chase salvage some credibility? Do you think they even can at this point?

About Marc A. Pitman

Marc A. Pitman is the CEO of The Concord Leadership Group, the author of Ask Without Fear! and director of The Nonprofit Academy. A coach to leaders around the world, Marc's expertise and enthusiasm engages audiences and has caught the attention of media organizations as diverse as Al Jazeera and Fox News. Marc’s experience also includes pastoring a Vineyard church, managing a gubernatorial campaign, and teaching internet marketing and fundraising at colleges and universities. He is the husband to his best friend and the father of three amazing kids. And if you drive by him on the road, he’ll be singing 80’s tunes loud enough to embarrass his family! You can connect with him on Google+, on Twitter @marcapitman, and like "Ask Without Fear!" on Facebook.
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  1. I think Chase should just fess up and say, "we screwed up by not defining 'eligible' charities correctly."

  2. Good summary! Thanks

  3. Thanks Jesse & Beth.

    FYI- Beth, I pitched the story to BBC's World Update and suggested they go to your blog and John Haydon's (his has the images).

  4. Similar to green-washing efforts of corporations that try to make corporate responsibility to environmental nonprofits their shield against people decrying their environmental pollution, I find Chase's "Charitable Giving Contest" hypocrisy par for the course.

    Sadly, their money is made on overdraft fees and the backs of the working poor. With Ariana Huffington's move your money campaign, and the support of other noted thinkers and bloggers, I don't think there is much Chase can do to salvage its image no matter how much money it doesn't give away to "Students for a Sensible Drug Policy" "Marijuana Policy Project" or "Justice for All."

    It is hard to find causes that would have a pull big enough to make us forget that Chase doesn't actually stand for Justice for All.

What would you add?