Toyota helps nonprofits—and its image—with vehicle giveaway

The automaker is proving its commitment to philanthropy by providing cars to 100 charity organizations this summer, ratcheting up consumer interest by conducting the voting on Facebook.

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Meanwhile, nonprofit organizations all over the country were hurting, too. Charitable giving had dipped in both of the previous years, though it did tick back up a bit in 2010 itself. A lot of those organizations, such as, say, a soup kitchen that couldn’t pick up donations because it had no van, could have used something to drive around.

The folks at Toyota knew this and realized they had the means to fill the need and boost the company’s image. So in March 2011, the automaker launched 100 Cars for Good, a Facebook program in which visitors could vote each day for 100 days for one of five charities to get a free car.

The program is back this year, running through Aug. 21, and it’s only drawing more attention.

A history of giving

Charity is nothing new to Toyota, says Michael Rouse, the company’s vice president of diversity, philanthropy, and community affairs. It’s been giving to organizations in need since the mid-1980s, he says. Since 1991, the year the company started tracking its various arms’ charitable giving, it has exceeded $550 million total in philanthropy, he says.

A lot of that giving didn’t really happen in the public eye, though.

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