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Tuesday Buzz: Throw Away Your Socially Responsible Gift

Why giving a socially responsible gift to a colleague—say, a donation in his or her name—may actually be a crummy idea. Also: An internal online community may not solve your organization's silo problems all by itself.

Maybe donating to a nonprofit in someone else’s name isn’t such a great gift after all.

When Doing Good Is Bad in Gift Giving: Mis-Predicting Appreciation of Socially Responsible Gifts,” a recent study published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, suggests that such a thoughtful gift on the part of the giver could potentially backfire by making it seem like the gift is about the giver, rather than the person receiving the gift. In other words, social responsibility isn’t as nice a gift as it seems.

“In some sense, associating with a socially responsible gift may be an unconscious way to make the giver look better,” explained Lisa Cavanaugh, the lead author of the study and a University of Southern California professor, in comments to The Wall Street Journal.
Inc. reporter Zoë Henry puts this point into a business context, noting that the study highlights a truism about gift-giving: Make sure the person you’re buying for will accept the gift the way you mean it.

“This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should never give a socially responsible gift,” Henry writes. “Rather, the study implies that it may benefit your relationship to take the recipient’s unique interests into consideration first.”

Silo Smarts of the Day

“You can’t graft a technological skin on broken social bones. You need to strengthen the bones first.”

Building an online community for an internal audience (say, a Slack channel or 10) sounds like a great idea for helping to break apart the silos inside of an organization. However, FeverBee founder Richard Millington says that doing it in a way that doesn’t solve the broader problems that created the silos in the first place is a waste of time. Instead, he recommends an approach that motivates people to actually talk with one another.

“An internal community platform only works if there is a genuine internal community to use it,” he explains in his latest blog post. “You have to build that sense of community first. That’s a far bigger project than you probably imagine right now.”

Other Links of Note

Planning a trip to a big event in the next couple of days? The latest version of Google’s Inbox app could make it easier to share your itinerary with your co-workers.

Bad news on the awesome app front: Prismatic, a company that had produced a popular personalized news-reader tool, says it’s getting out of the news-reader business. (That faint weeping sound you hear is that of this writer losing his favorite research tool.)

The bigger the brands, the harder they fall. Over at CMSWire, Customer Carewords founder and CEO Gerry McGovern explains the trust problem that brands of a certain size inevitably face.

(epSos .de/Flickr)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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