Freshbooks’ holiday campaign is corporate giving done right!


‘Tis the season for phony corporate “giving.”

Call me a cynic, but I see a lot of corporate charity as disingenuous. Too often the campaign goes something like:

“Dear customer, please buy something from our retail outlet then leave it with the cashier so we can provide (fill in the blank) with a merry Christmas.”


“Dear customer, make sure to shop with us this weekend when we’ll be donating x% of sales to (fill in the blank).”

When I hear this all I can think is, “Either give or don’t give. Why are you making your customers subsidize your goodwill?” (Especially when this is done by some big, profitable conglomerate as opposed to Mom & Pop, Inc.)

The right way to do corporate giving for the holidays

Considering my rather skeptical attitude, you might guess my reaction to this email.


I fully expected a click on that button to take me to some big, branded landing page with a courtesy “thank you” and slick sales pitch.

I was pleasantly surprised when I saw this:

Landing page for Freshbooks Corporate giving campaign reads Thanks, your click helped to donate meal number 5,335 to a family in need.

What struck me was a) they’re not asking me to buy a darn thing and b) they really are keeping track of clicks in order to donate accordingly.

The best part came a few days later when I clicked the same link and rather than seeing a “sorry, one click per customer,” I got this:


Landing page for charity campaign reads, "thanks, your click helped donate meal number 17123 to a family in need."

Notice this time my screenshot caught the bottom of the page, and you know what? Still no overt selling of any kind. Instead, there are additional details about Daily Bread Food Bank and a link to a relevant Freshbooks blog post.

I was so impressed with the subtle and giving nature of this campaign that I decided to ask Freshbooks about it. Here’s what they told me.

This is our fourth time running this campaign and it’s exciting that it’s become a bit of a tradition – we often hear from users that they look forward to receiving it every year.

We, as an organization, believe in giving back and try to focus on those in need around us in Toronto, but we also want to enable our customers to join in. We understand that SMB are busy this time of year and that many of them may not have the resources to be able to give back monetarily, so this campaign is an easy way for SMBs to participate in giving back without needing to cut a cheque.”

Brands large and small can learn from Freshbooks example. In one understated email, they demonstrate good corporate citizenship, smart branding, a commitment to customer service, and effective email marketing.

Speaking of effective, Freshbooks says:

We hit our goal of 20,000 clicks which means we’ll be making a donation to cover the costs of 20,000 meals to Daily Bread Food Bank.”


Think about it. In addition to helping families in need, they succeeded in getting their email opened, read, and interacted with at least 20,000 times. How would you like to get that kind of exposure for your business?

A campaign like this can enhance your brand’s image and garner goodwill from your target audience. However, it can easily take a wrong turn if it looks like your corporate “giving” is really thinly veiled corporate marketing. It takes thoughtful planning and execution (as well as honest intentions) to ensure your campaign succeeds. At The Website Wordsmith, I help small businesses write marketing campaigns that fit their business and target audience. To request a quote you can contact me here.

By the way, the reason I’m on Freshbooks’ email list is because I have been a happy customer of their cloud-based accounting system for years. Their platform and customer service have been very good to me and I highly recommend them. Try them out for free by clicking the affiliate link in this paragraph.



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