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The charity strategy: Barclays/NETS Community Alliance now giving to Brooklyn Steppers, Neighbors Helping Neighbors

I wrote last June how the Barclays/Nets Community Alliance had not only given donations to playgrounds and to the Brooklyn Historical Society, it had begun to support the Brooklyn Public Library's summer reading program.

Let's add a few more recipients to the growing list. On April 17, as the graphic at right indicates, the Brooklyn Steppers drumline--a stalwart at Atlantic Yards events, by the way--held a fundraiser, the Battle of the Drumlines, featuring "a head to head battle of two of the nation's top Historically Black Colleges and Universities - North Carolina A&T State University vs. South Carolina State University."

Also, the alliance serves as the lead sponsor of the 2011 Benefit Bash for Neighbors Helping Neighbors, a Sunset Park nonprofit that aims "to empower low and moderate income Brooklyn residents to secure quality housing and build financial assets."

The charity strategy

Using charitable donations to make friends and neutralize potential critics is not a new strategy; after all, Forest City Ratner has practiced this tactic for years, as has--on a much grander scale--Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

And organizations that need money, in an era when government support is scarce, can't help but be grateful.

Ultimately, however, these gifts are an easy call for the donor, since the public is essentially paying the freight.

Consider that the state of New York gave away naming rights to the arena--a huge, uncounted benefit to Forest City Ratner.

Barclays initially promised $20 million a year. That was cut to $10 million and change. So Barclays has some room in its budget for promotional activities, beyond pure advertising.

And a few thousand here, a few thousand there will get their name out, with a bit of a halo.

Just don't think it's generosity.

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