CHICAGO: PNC, the financial services provider, has demonstrated the power of finding the right partnership to boost corporate philanthropy, allying with Sesame Workshop to enhance early-child education.

Sally McCrady, president of the PNC Foundation and director/community affairs at PNC Bank, discussed this topic at the Brand Activation Association's (BAA) 2015 Brand Activation Annual Showcase (BAASH).

The two organisations began working together on "Grow Up Great", an initiative which has expanded into a $350m, bilingual program based on early education over 11 years.

This effort has served over 2.3m children and been extended to include a "very robust web presence", alongside downloadable content and outreach kits for PNC customers.

"We knew from the very beginning [that] if this programme was to be credible, we needed to have really strong partners," McCrady said. (For more, including more details about how this programme was activated, read Warc's exclusive report: PNC ties community affairs to Sesame Workshop.)

"Who better than Sesame Street, widely regarded as the gold standard in early childhood programming, as well as content development?"

"Grow Up Great" has helped the company engage both consumers and PNC's employees, who all receive 40 hours a year to volunteer.

Beyond that, focusing its attention has let the firm drill down into determining the results of its philanthropic activities.

Prior to starting "Grow Up Great", McCrady reported, "Our CEO asked us to talk to him about the impact our philanthropy was having in the communities we served.

"We realised that we were in a place that you never want to be with your CEO: we did not have a good answer."

In response, "Grow Up Great" represented a more unified idea than its previous endeavours in this space.

"Because our guidelines were so broad and our efforts were so diffuse, it was almost impossible for us to talk about the impact of our philanthropy, even though we were giving away millions of dollars in our communities," McCrady said.

"So we decided, for the first time, that we would launch a corporate-wide philanthropic effort – not taking away from what we were already doing in our communities, but adding to it."

Data sourced from Warc