6 Strategies for More Effective Corporate Philanthropy

Corporate philanthropy is essential to strong, cohesive societies. For a variety of reasons that we’ll explain in greater detail here, it may also be good business.

However, corporate philanthropy can be (and, unfortunately, often is) wasteful. As a corporate decision-maker in charge of charitable giving and community engagement, it’s incumbent upon you to ensure that these activities benefit those they’re meant to — with as little resource waste as realistically possible.

Let’s take a closer look at six strategies that you can deploy this quarter, all of which should streamline and sharpen your corporate philanthropy strategy.

  1. Create a Cultural Imperative for Philanthropy

Is philanthropy sufficiently ingrained in your corporate culture?

Forbes contributor Raoul Davis writes extensively about the importance of “institutionalizing philanthropy.” He advocates implementing philanthropic initiatives that account for what one of his clients calls “the five C’s”: customer, character, commitment, courage and community.

Your corporate value statement may vary, but the point is an important one: without a cultural imperative for philanthropy at every level of the organization, you’re unlikely to realize truly effective giving.

  1. Support Organizations and Individuals That Align With Your Values

Your corporate values are your own, which means they’re yours to evangelize. With this in mind, make a point to support charitable organizations and creative individuals whose values align with your own. Asia-Pacific based Asiaciti Trust, for instance, is a noted patron of the arts because they recognize the importance of a vibrant creative industry. You can no doubt find your own causes to support.

  1. Give Employees a Say in Giving Decisions

True philanthropic institutionalization requires buy-in at all levels of the organization, from the board of directors to the mail room. However else you choose to go about your corporate giving efforts, be sure to give your employees a say in the matter. Motivated employees are less reticent to open their wallets for causes you care about, and more likely to devote their precious time to giving back as well.

  1. Create Opportunities in Which Rank-and-File Employees Actually Want to Participate

Let your charitable giving initiatives double as team-building exercises. A quarterly “giveback” day is a powerful motivator for rank-and-file employees who might otherwise feel disinclined to give.

  1. Make Your Activities Visible in the Wider Community

There’s no shame in touting your corporate giving activities, particularly when they directly benefit the communities you serve. Targeted sponsorships and other forms of “branded” giving are ideal.

  1. Reward Nonprofits for Good Governance

Never fail to apply the same rigorous standards of due diligence to your company’s philanthropic activities as to its core business practices. After all, charitable giving is an investment, if one that’s not expected to produce a direct bottom-line return. Use reputable resources like Charity Navigator to vet nonprofits and target your giving more effectively.

Make Philanthropy Better

Your corporation is only as good as its people, processes, and products.

Why should its philanthropy be any different? If you don’t approach charitable giving and community engagement with the same seriousness and rigor as you bring to your core business decision-making processes, these activities are unlikely to have the sort of impact that you envision.

Getting this right — or close to it — isn’t rocket science. But it may require more effort than you’ve devoted thus far.


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