I’d better declare my interests straight away. I’m a born (yes, born) and bred Everton fan – but don’t click away yet because this post isn’t really about football – it’s about corporate social responsibility and (admittedly) the fantastic contribution by the club at last Monday’s game against Sunderland.

As widely reported, Everton donated £200,000 to the Bradley Lowery Flight Appeal  which was set up to raise money to send 5 year old Bradley to the USA for life-saving cancer treatment not available in the UK.

What was – and still is – particularly striking to me was the fact that the beneficiary of the donation was a little boy from Hartlepool who had absolutely nothing to do with the blue half of Merseyside. More times than not when football teams give publicty or cash to a cause, they help ‘their own’. But not in this case.

This donation surpassed the usual boundaries.

The club didn’t issue an official statement about the donation and after the match, according to BBC news, “declined to comment further”.

All credit to them for NOT going OTT on the publicity machine ; they clearly realised that they didn’t need to.

Less, on this occasion, was more. Indeed, I couldnt’ find a reference to it on Everton’s official website.

Those of us who regularly attend matches have known for a long time that football fans and their clubs do a lot of charitable work that goes unnoticed and unreported – maybe after this match the media will take a bit more notice of such random acts of generosity.

They probably won’t get the same level of publicity but good stories do travel, and there is absolutely nothing for companies to be ashamed of by wallowing a bit in the afterglow of a good deed, providing it’s handled with sensitivity.

There’s no firm like an Old Firm

Move 130 miles north west of Sunderland and you hit the football-mad city of Glasgow which last weekend saw the return of the Old Firm match between Celtic and Rangers.

The publicity,such as it was, south of the border concerned the scoreline ( Celtic thrashed Rangers 5-1) and the sectarian-related behaviour during and after the game by a minority of idiots.

Plus ca change, you might think.

But what if both Glasgow clubs had got together before the match and decided on a joint charitable venture of the type embraced by Sunderland and Everton before their game? The ensuing good will and publicity might have overshadowed some of the nastiness.

Maybe next time the two sides clash one or either of the Old Firm will grasp the nettle and publicly embrace a cause close to the hearts of both sets of fans?

The sectarianism and vandalism may well have happened anyway but that’s not the point ; It would have put the mindlessness into perspective and both clubs,in their subsequent communications to the media would have had something positive to say, while condemning the trouble.

Maybe something similar could have been organised priot to the West Ham v Watford game which was also marred by some crowd violence?

Broadening this theme to the rest of the business sector,there are many examples of where genuine altruism helps to improve a brand’s image and brings staff together.

It’s easy – too easy – to be cynical about such ventures but fostering a more socially inclusive corporate culture can pay dividends in all sorts of ways,not all of them predictable.

Why not get your company to partner a charity or good cause if it isn’t already doing so? It will build staff morale, maybe contribute to customer loyalty and,yes, show that your organisation takes corporate social responsibility seriously.

If it helps pay for a little boy to get cancer treatment in America or help pay for a youth club in an inner city then surely that’s a good thing? And good stuff deserves positive publicity.

One of the most satisfying aspects of my job is matching such potential partners and encouraging charities and businesses to think ‘outside the box’ (sorry) to try to come with a mutually beneficial partnership.

They don’t always work but when they do, they can create a helluva impact.

It doesn’t need to be something that “other” companies or football clubs do because the media is not just interested in bad news all the time – as last week’s events at the Sunderland v Everton match indicate.