Corporate Giving Programs and Foundations

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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Prepared by the Southern New Hampshire University's School of Community Economic Development and available through Mission Investors Exchange, this case study explores the details of the F.B. Heron Foundation's rationale, exploration, and implementation of its mission-related investment strategy, and reviews tools (including PRIs), specific investments, interim outcomes, and lessons learned. The case study provides a walk-through of how Heron applies its Mission-related Investment Continuum to its portfolio.

By FSG Social Impact Advisors, this report provides the first comprehensive analysis of mission investing by U.S. foundations and analyzes the activity of 92 U.S. foundations, which have made a combined total of $2.3 billion of mission investments.

From the New Economics Foundation, Mission Possible considers how foundations might more effectively use a proportion of their endowment in support of the change they set out to create – their mission. Starting from the premise that paths are made by walking, it explores the potential of ‘mission-connected investment’ or MCI – defined as investment which promises a market return but also helps to achieve mission.

From Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, this publication that can inform decisionmakers in philanthropy about how to move forward and implement an agenda for impact investing in their institutions.

Question

The same company representatives serve on our company foundation board of directors and our Corporate Contributions Committee. Can we hold the meetings for both programs simultaneously?

Answer

No. While it is possible to hold the meetings for the corporate giving program and company foundation board back to back, the meetings should not be held jointly. The meeting for the foundation board, for example, should adjourn before the committee meeting begins.

Question

In light of current economy, the corporation has asked whether the company private foundation may honor grant commitments already made by the corporate giving program. Can the private foundation make these grants?

Answer

Question: May corporate grantmakers make grants to units of government such as public schools or local parks departments?

Answer: Yes, both corporate giving programs and corporate foundations may make grants to units of government as long as the grants are restricted to charitable purposes.

Question: May our corporate foundation or corporate giving program provide a grant to an organization that is not a charity?

Answer:Yes, but the process required to make a grant to a non-charity depends on the type of corporate giving vehicle used to make the grant. Private foundations must take steps to ensure that the grant is not subject to penalty taxes. Corporate giving programs may not take an income tax deduction for grants to non-charities.

Question: We are trying to decide how to structure our grants programs between our direct-giving program and our corporate foundation. Are there any general guidelines to help us?

As different as foundations can be from one another, they all share the need to know what works and, especially, what works well. The more foundations can show how their grants are making a difference, the more value they can bring to their communities.

To know what works, foundations must evaluate their grants. Evaluation has many benefits. It helps the foundation assess the quality or impact of funded programs, plan and implement new programs, make future grant decisions, and demonstrate accountability to the public trust.

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