I am not even sure I can pronounce his name correctly, and I haven’t ever met him, but J. Ronald Terwilliger just did something off-the-charts great, and not only is it great, the timing is perfect, and, AND it’s the perfect way for someone to give to a charity.
First of all, he just gave $100 million to Habitat for Humanity, which they say will translate into 60,000 homes. That helps so many people at such a key time, it’s just incredible. I am all for giving to the arts and other causes, but at a time when things are so bad, WOW WOW WOW, what an amazing gift. I hope to some day shake the hand of Mr. J. Ronald Terwilliger.
So why is it the perfect way to give to a charity? Because it’s so perfectly aligned with his brand, or more accurately the brand of the company that enabled him to amass his fortune, the Trammel Crowe Residential Company, a developer. In the book Rethink I talk a lot about business value, and brand, and this is such an ideal way to give to charity that makes so much sense for someone from the world of housing to essentially give houses to 60,000 families who cannot afford them.
Years ago I was talking with my friend George who runs a branding and marketing company called Modo-Group and he talked about the relationship between brand and charity, he used to work for The Coca-Cola Company, and he said that Coke spends a lot of their charitable dollars on water purification in third world countries and it makes sense because water is such a core part of their brand (he informed me that Coke uses more water than any other organization in the world – which makes sense if you think about it). He added that if Coke were to give money to something like the arts, like The Kennedy Center, even though it’s a great cause, for them that would be a really transparent way to just get some great seats at events for some executives and that would irk some people and not make any sense for their brand.
So today is official J. Ronald Terwilliger day. I encourage you all to clap out loud for him, as I did this morning while I read the paper.