Tostitos Connects Football and Philanthropy

my worldgiving organizations

The link between chips and football is one pretty easily made by most Americans, even those that don't host game parties. The link between chips, football, and the military is not as easily seen, however. But that's what makes Tostitos' "Connect to Home Bowl" so interesting. The big chip company, in partnership with the USO hosted a bowl-game-inspired celebration in December at a military base in the Persian Gulf.

This one-of-a-kind college football experience, in its second year now, gave troops a little taste of home during the holiday season. The troops had a chance to play alongside and be coached by college football legends like Coach Bobby Bowden and player Antonio Freeman. It was Tostitos' way of helping the troops partake in the great American tradition of football. Pieces of this festive game will play during the half-time shows of the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, playing today (Jan. 1st) at 8 p.m. EST on ESPN, and the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game on Monday, January 10th at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN (see Tostitos' Facebook page for more information).

Says former Alabama coach Gene Stallings: “Those of us that live free, it doesn’t just happen. Somebody has to protect us. And it’s Christmas time. The rest of us are home with our families, they’re over here. And if we can bring a little joy to them, that’s what I want to do."

I love it when big corporations and important people take part in the bigger picture of our country, engaging with people not necessarily for money but because there is a need they can meet. Many companies have some kind of philanthropic outreach. However, Tostitos is, in my opinion, setting an example of more active philanthropy. Actually, it's not so much traditional philanthropy as it is a partnership in which companies make philanthropy a core part of their mission instead of just making donations. It's part of a rising trend in the business world, according to an article in Inc. Magazine. More and more companies these days automatically donate a portion of the revenue of each item they sell to the company’s chosen cause, often a specific non-profit partner, says Drew Armstrong, the article's author. In the case of Tostitos' Connect to Home Bowl, they're giving to the troops through the USO but gaining publicity.

It's all still ultimately motivated by self-interest—more families of military members watching the Fiesta Bowl, for example, means more people seeing Tostitos' name, means more people maybe buying Tostitos' products. But that's okay, I think. After all, when we give as individuals or families, aren't we oftentimes secretly self-motivated in some way or another as well? Don't we hope, to some extent, that when we take dinner to a bed-ridden friend they'll like us a little more, or that when we donate money to the United Way we'll, as they say, improve our own condition by improving the condition of another?

Ideally, everyone, including corporations, should give from the heart without expectations. In times of recession, however, when companies are still giving despite tightened budgets, they should still be applauded and encouraged.

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