Appliance Manufacturer's Family Connection Informs CSR Decisions

By Kim Hughes 10/12/12 |

Electrolux execs announcing its 365 nights of comfort initiative.
Most people think of home when they think of appliances. So it made perfect sense when Electrolux Canada, maker of fridges, stoves, dishwashers and other shiny utilitarian things, recently announced a partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada to supply appliances (and donate cash) to their 14 locations nationwide.

Ronald McDonald Houses provide temporary accommodation to out-of-town families of seriously ill children being treated at big-city hospitals and each has unique household needs, explains Norm MacNeil, Electrolux’s director of product and brand development.

More importantly, however, the Houses serve their communities. And if there is a unifying theme to the charitable outreach of the Swedish-based company – which sells an astonishing 40 million products in more than 150 markets annually, making it the world's second-largest household appliance maker by revenues – it is also serving the communities in which they do business.

“In the past, we have supported major national charities – Save the Children, Ovarian Cancer – which were aligned with the U.S. arm of our organization,” MacNeil tells Samaritanmag. “But we have since moved away from those and really made our own decisions more recently on where we should be directing our social responsibility.

“Plus, there was a family connection with this charity, which we hold as very important in the organization. There have actually been several employees who have been helped by Ronald McDonald Houses across Canada over the past few years, including a couple here in our Mississauga offices, so it was an excellent fit.”

Electrolux’s Ronald McDonald Houses initiative – dubbed “365 nights of comfort” – is two-pronged: the company supplies each of the houses with necessary appliances, from freezers to ranges, depending on what’s needed. And $40 from every Frigidaire Dishwasher with OrbitClean Technology sold at BrandSource retailers across Canada from July 1 to December 31 benefits Ronald McDonald Houses from Vancouver to St. John’s.

“That felt like a relevant amount,” MacNeil offers of the $40 sum. “It felt like something that would resonate with consumers.” The suggested retail of the dishwasher is $799. The company has pledged a total of $44,000 and will top up any sales shortfall.

“We fully expect to sell enough of the dishwashers that we will raise the full amount, but if not, we’ll make sure the end amount is $44,000,” MacNeil says. “Obviously, this is an opportunity to tie a new product launch in with a charity, but it works well for everybody.”

Less publicly heralded than the “365 nights of comfort” campaign, but no less meaningful is Electrolux Canada’s outreach to Humane Societies across the country plus women’s shelters and other locally based charitable organizations.

“We donate appliances where they’re required plus employees have been involved with Humane Society fundraising walks. Refrigerators and freezer products are pretty important to local food banks so we donate to them as well. 

“I can’t give you exact numbers in terms of what we donate — we honestly don’t measure it that way — but when the opportunities arise, there’s typically very little question about our offering support. This stems from the leadership here but it’s near and dear to the hearts of our employees as well.”

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* is an online magazine covering the good deeds of individuals, charities and businesses.