“Reinventing” Corporate Philanthropy

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Posted Date : November 18, 2011

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The Council on Foundations’ Corporate Philanthropy 2012 project calls for a “reinvention” of corporate philanthropy, in part through a core group of leaders/practitioners who are willing to “guide, adopt, test, and validate new management approaches.”

So often our ability to transform established approaches requires a convergence of opportunity and vision.

At the Medtronic Foundation, we’re experiencing this convergence. There has been a clear opportunity in the escalating global economic and social burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs)-the importance of which was underscored by the September 2011 United Nations’ High-Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases)-paired with growing expectations of businesses to do more to address social issues.

Leveraging all our corporate assets, including product, people, and philanthropy, to maximize our social and business impact creates shared value and vision.

Now we find ourselves in the midst of a transformative approach to corporate giving. In it, philanthropy is viewed as a key strategic element and Medtronic’s corporate citizenship commitment shows leadership in addressing chronic disease around the world. This approach has come to life in the Medtronic Global NCD Initiative, in which an integrated team of representatives from Medtronic, Inc., and the Medtronic Foundation are aligning their efforts to alleviate the global burden of NCDs.

With a shared focus on improving access to quality health care through global policy and advocacy, strengthening health systems, and innovation in therapy and health care delivery, our complementary actions are maximizing our collective impact.

And while we need to work carefully through the legal and governance issues to ensure that we align our assets appropriately to avoid any confusion between philanthropy and business development, the focus on chronic, noncommunicable disease allows us to strengthen our connection with company leadership.

We achieved executive-level support for the initiative by engaging the Medtronic Foundation Board of Directors. And we continue to provide the foundation’s board with regular updates on our progress. In addition, we engaged our country leaders in the earliest stages, informing them of the initiative and our objectives, and asking for their feedback.

The realization that we can successfully increase our impact through shared value is empowering.

What resources have you found helpful to align your company’s philanthropic and business goals?  

Jacob Gayle is vice president of Medtronic Community Affairs and executive director of the Medtronic Foundation, a member of the Council on Foundations.

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