Economic Case Study: Why Your Company Should Send Anonymous Donations

send anonymous business donations

If you are an owner of a business or work in public relations, read this quick case study on the San Francisco Giants, where a distasteful public donation would see them lose over $17 million in revenue. Make your future company donations anonymous with Silent Donor.

This is a cautionary tale of sending a public donation if you are an owner of a public-facing business or if you donate on behalf of your company. The organizations to which you donate may become an issue for you in today’s world. As we’ve pointed out before, where you choose to publicly donate your money today can place your company at the whims of civil society. People may disagree with the cause you have donated to and amplify their distaste with you on social media, or the cause or organization may fall out of favor with the public, or it may undertake some controversial action and your business will be unfairly painted as a public supporter of their controversial action (even if you are very much not).  As this example goes to show, public donations can affect what is most precious to your business – your public perception and your bottom line. 

We chose this example, even though it is a political donation that you cannot make through Silent Donor, to showcase the power of what being on the “wrong” side of a public donation can incur on any business – even if it’s a very popular professional sports team playing America’s pastime. There are countless other stories like it, with backlash stemming not only from political stances, but also other divisive topics such as religious or moral stances as well. It can be especially important for the perception of family-run businesses – as seen in the numerous examples of companies like Chick-fil-A, Publix, In-N-Out, and Goya, to name a few. It doesn’t matter the size of your business either – people who oppose where you donate (and there will be people who criticize you, no matter which side you support or where you donate) now enjoy the megaphone of social media to rouse up their like-minded friends to join in on ‘cancelling’ the company you have worked hard to grow. 

This true case study takes a look at the power of when a public donation goes wrong for the San Francisco Giants, a professional baseball team. One of the owners of the Giants, Charles B. Johnson, donated $2,700 to a political candidate*. It was later revealed that this particular candidate, Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Republican Senator from Mississippi, had said some inflammatory and racial statements in her past. We are assuming that the Giants owner was unaware of these statements prior to this information coming to light. After this $2,700 donation was released once election filings were made public, civil rights activist Dr. Harry Edwards and Oakland-based attorney John Burris announced a total boycott of the Giants. Social media exploded with anti-Giants sentiments. #BoycottSFGiants began quickly trending on Twitter. A firestorm of the worst kind exploded for Johnson and the privately-owned Giants organization. 

As a result of the strong public backlash facing the Giants from this $2,700 donation, and while other factors may have also contributed, Giants attendance dipped in 2019 year-over-year by almost 450,000 fans (the year of the boycott), despite the Giants having a better record and finishing one spot better in the standings than the year prior. This is to show that it was not the case that the team was simply much worse than the year before, so the fans stopped showing up to watch the games. At $38.32 per an average ticket to a Giants game, this represented a loss of over $17 million in ticket revenue alone for the Giants organization in one year. Attendance for the Giants fell under 3,000,000 fans for the first time in a decade. There are very real stakes for businesses in today’s culture over where you place your donations. A simple question: why put your company at risk at all? 

Using Silent Donor allows for you and your business to easily give to the philanthropic causes you care about while eliminating the potential for public backlash or any unwanted attention. Gain some peace of mind with your company’s donations. Join many companies across the U.S. and use Silent Donor for all of your company donations today.

*Note that Silent Donor cannot facilitate to donations to political candidates, campaigns, or parties