What Notre Dame Donations Can Teach Us About Philanthropic Marketing

by Justin Grensing, Esq., MBA

Corporate philanthropy can be a great way to boost an organization’s brand. Customers like supporting companies they feel are contributing to the good of society, and philanthropy often comes with various forms of publicity as well—whether it’s media coverage of a donation or sponsor recognition attached to an event or building.

The recent tragic fire at Paris’s historic and world-famous Notre Dame cathedral inspired immediate pledges of contributions toward reconstruction from French luxury goods magnates. Francois-Henri Pinault, chairman and CEO of Kering SA, and his father Francois Pinault pledged €100 million. And the Bettencourt Meyers family promised a further €200. Kering SA owns numerous luxury brands including Gucci and Yves St Laurent. One of their chief rivals, the Arnault family, pledged €200 million as well as the architectural and design resources of their LVMH conglomerate. LVMH is the owner of brands like Louis Vuitton, Moet & Chandon (champagne) and Hennessy (cognac). Bettencourt Meyers controls L’Oreal.

These donations illustrate some important considerations for any corporate donor.

Community Matters

Luis Vuitton and Yves Saint Laurent certainly have an international presence, but they are quintessentially French luxury brands. Large donations to support the reconstruction of one of the nation’s most famous landmarks is a great way to promote the brand as part of the fabric of its communities.

On a smaller scale, many local sporting goods companies will donate money, clothing or equipment to sponsor local teams or facilities. Similarly, local bars or restaurants might sponsor community festivals. Community matters and companies can help show how their communities matter by proving support in very visible ways.

Getting Behind Culture

Few monuments are tied more closely to the idea and the culture of France than Notre Dame. It’s a culture that people around the world strive to be a part of through purchases of French goods, wine and foods, as well as dining and cultural experiences. Spending hundreds of millions of euros to help restore this treasured monument will tie these brands to that culture even more closely for years to come.

Again, looking at this on a smaller scale, small businesses can similarly tie their donations to cultures they want to be associated with. This might take the form of an engineering firm sponsoring a scholarship program for those entering a STEM field. Or it could be a local physical therapist volunteering time to promote safety and injury prevention for sports teams. What cultural issues are important to your brand.

Publicity an Added Bonus

Finally, it’s important to think as well about publicity. While many companies may have purely altruistic motivations for donating money, it doesn’t hurt to get noticed for their efforts as well. The Notre Dame fire captured headlines around the world; so too did the massive donations directed toward rebuilding it.


The donations by France’s billionaires are extremely generous and we don’t in any way want to suggest the primary motivation is not the restoration and preservation of a treasured part of French, European and world heritage. At the same time, these donations are a great example of how effective philanthropy can be at boosting a company’s brand when the right factors are present.

About Us

Strategic Communications, LLC, works with B2B clients to help them achieve their goals through effective content marketing and management with both internal and external audiences. We are adept at evaluating and analyzing communication efforts and working with clients to plan, create and publish high-quality, unique content, through both on- and offline media to achieve desired results. Our background in business journalism, marketing, PR/media relations and online communications makes us well-positioned to serve the needs of 21st-century marketers.

We serve clients who are looking for help creating content for a wide array of channels—from social media posts to full-length manuscripts, and everything in between. We focus primarily on service-related B2B topics and work with a number of independent consultants interested in building their thought leadership through online channels. For ongoing content management, our first step is to fully understand your goals, objectives and competitive landscape.

Then we’ll conduct a thorough analysis and assessment of your digital presence, compared to competitors, and recommend a communication strategy to achieve your goals. But, we also regularly take on individual projects – white papers, blog posts, contributed articles, etc. If you’re interested in learning more, let us know!

(Strategic Communications is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through the Wisconsin Department of Administration.)

Recommended Reading

21st Century Secrets to Effective PR: Tips and Best Practices for Gaining Media Exposure


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Complete the math problem before submitting a comment. * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.