Embedded Giving: The practice of building a charitable donation into another, unrelated financial transaction--for example, rounding up your phone bill and designating the excess as a contribution to a cause.
"Embedded giving" was coined by Lucy Bernholz, founder and president of Blueprint Research & Design, which consults with philanthropic institutions and individuals. Last month Bernholz named "embedded giving" as one of the top philanthropic buzzwords of 2007. She writes in her blog, Philanthropy 2173¹:
[H]ere's the thing about embedded giving. No one is counting it. Some of the corporations that sponsor these opportunities count the gifts in their total charitable giving. Others count it as part of their marketing budgets. There's no consistency and no breakout of numbers, so we really don't know how much money is raied this way, for what, and by whom.
The Times followed up on Dec. 16 with an article about planned national legislation to regulate embedded giving.
Here's an example of embedded giv ing from Procter & Gamble: the "Protecting Futures" program, a collaboration with a United Nations organization, HERO, that provides Always pads and Tampax tampons to girls in Southern Africa who miss school each month during their menstrual period. Buy a T-shirt and $1 of the $18-to-$22 purchase price is donated to the program. Some observers, like this blogger, have pointed out that the product-distribution program is poorly suited to sub-Saharan Africa, and that reusable products would make a better solution. Also left unaddressed by Protecting Futures are cultural taboos, which are unlikely to be eliminated by product giveaways.
¹For nomenclature aficionados: Bernholz explains why she chose "Philanthropy 2173" as her blog name.