By Anne H. Morgan
Corporate Philanthropy refers to the investments and activities a company voluntarily undertakes to responsibly manage and account for its impact on society. It includes investments of money, donations of products, in-kind services and technical assistance, employee volunteerism, and other business transactions to advance a social cause, issue, or the work of a nonprofit organization. Corporate foundations and corporate giving programs traditionally play a major role in these areas.
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Should your foundation board members be compensated for service, or should they serve in a voluntary capacity? Whether you are considering this issue for the first time, or whether it’s a question that has arisen before, compensation has become more than an internal management question. It has become part of keeping the public trust.
As the need for scarce grant dollars grows more intense, so does the need to make certain those dollars are spent as effectively as possible. Hence the question of how to evaluate the consequences of grant supported activities has risen to the forefront.
Question: Our private foundation received a proposal for a general support grant from a public charity. The proposed grant meets our guidelines and is within our charitable mission; however, we know the charity engages in lobbying. Can we make a grant to this charity?
Answer: Yes, as long as the grant is not earmarked for the grantee’s lobbying activity. Earmarking is a written or oral understanding that funds will be used for a particular purpose.
Question: May a private company foundation support the volunteer activities of the sponsoring corporation's employees?
Answer: Company foundations sometimes play a role in coordinating volunteer activities of the sponsoring corporation's employees. The IRS has approved company foundations' involvement in these activities. However, a foundation must ensure that it does not make any payments in connection with the volunteer programs that will provide more than incidental or tenuous benefit to the corporation.
Question: If our corporate foundation accepts contributions from employees should we provide the contributors with receipts?
A foundation's strategic plan describes its long-term goals and objectives, and how the organization will work to fulfill them. Like any management tool, a strategic plan—with a process to develop that plan—helps an organization improve its work. Specifically, a strategic plan focuses the board's energy, articulates explicit goals for the board and staff to work toward, and adjusts the organization's direction, if necessary, in response to a changing community.
A good strategic plan will:
Our company foundation sometimes carries out its own charitable programs. For example, last year we organized a conference on the topic of evaluating program impact for our grantees and other nonprofits in one of our communities. Where does this information get reported on our Form 990-PF?