09/01/2010 12:01 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Brands That Give Back

We all know that more corporate brands than ever before are moving into the cause space. Some which you might have already heard about have include the Pepsi Refresh Project, Chase Bank, who gave away $5 million to competing NGO's, and Tyson Foods, who geared their philanthropy toward feeding people. While Beth Kanter, author of The Networked Non-Profit, has emphasized the brand lift these types of efforts can create, she has also noted how "sometimes, they don't balance the marketing bit with the social good bit and it can tend to swing too much towards marketing. That's fine because they have to show business results but it's a detriment to the social good side."

I tend to agree with that. Just because you slap a social good component to any brand or campaign doesn't make it good at all. Fortunately, I recently had a chance to be part of an event that got the right balance of marketing and doing good for the community.

Last week, I was asked to participate in an event with Tanqueray, who have been promoting their classic Tanqueray and Tonic and their Best T&T Consumer Facebook Contest, with events in New York and Los Angeles. In each city, celebs and media personalities would take on the role of bartender for the evening, compete and be crowned the new master of the "twist on the T&T." So I've been there, done that with parties, but what piqued my interest was that the winner received $3,000 and each other contestant $1,000, all of which would go to our charities of choice. Any time I can have fun and make a difference, I'm game!

I competed against Sal Masekela, host of E! Network's "The Daily Ten," CSI: New York's Hill Harper and KTLA's Allie MacKay. The event could've turned out cheesy, but it didn't. Aside from learning how to be a better bartender and getting creative with our drinks, more importantly each of us were given time to present what charities we were supporting and why -- from Sal's very own nonprofit, Stoked Mentoring, to Manifest Your Destiny and the Melanoma Research Foundation.

While my cocktail "Make Me Happy" did not win, at the end of the night I was happy that I got to raise $1,000 for charity: water, bringing clean safe drinking water to developing countries.

It wasn't millions, but even these small steps brands take can make a difference. They make a typical event into something much more meaningful for everyone involved.