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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There has never been a more challenging time for philanthropy. Globalization, natural disasters, and economic turmoil have placed additional stresses on social safety nets already stretched to the max. In this environment, the philanthropic sector must be smarter, more adaptable, and more collaborative.

This post first appeared on the HBR Blog Network.

More and more, companies are building long-term commitments to corporate social responsibility (CSR). In 2012 the rise in consumer activism and mobility, the Occupy movement, 24-hour accountability (thanks to social media), and global resource depletion will force every enterprise, large and small, to make CSR a focal point. Four particular areas stand out among many.

by Brenda Chumley

On behalf of the entire team at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, I'd like to wish everyone a happy Community Foundation Week! We're pleased to celebrate by sharing how we work with other community foundations across the country.

Question: What should corporate foundations and the parent company consider when purchasing tickets to fundraisers?

by Lee Draper

Every year, scores of individuals are recruited to join the program staff of foundations. As program officers or directors, they allocate billions of dollars to the nonprofit organizations doing work in our communities and abroad.

At ING, we have developed a strong corporate responsibility (CR) program that is enhanced through engagement in all levels of our company.  What have we learned? Buy-in and communications are important on a variety of levels. Tying CR directly to the CEO is critical. A CR program with strong support from the CEO and board will strengthen the company’s reputation, promote transparency, and increase profits.

Corporate philanthropy functions are increasingly emphasizing return on investment (RoI) in their grantmaking. Understandably, corporate foundations want to use their funding, energy, and time as effectively as possible. But for the Pfizer Foundation, evaluation is a tool to help refine our grantmaking, not an end in itself.

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.

Major societal challenges-poverty, hunger, inconsistent access to high-quality education and health care-adversely affect hundreds of millions of people on our planet. The business community can play a vital role in addressing these complex problems. To make a meaningful contribution, businesses must evolve the way they think about the concept of corporate responsibility (CR).  

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