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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With input from IBM and nine other leading companies, the Council on Foundations just launched an ambitious initiative to revitalize and redefine the roles of corporate foundations and philanthropy.

Panels of talking heads during conferences are all well and good, especially when they are saying something of importance that we don’t know. However the audiences at Council on Foundations conferences often have knowledge and perspectives that are just as interesting as the speakers. At today’s session, “The Leadership Opportunity for Corporate Philanthropy,” three items from the floor are particularly worth noting.

Last year’s Council on Foundations Annual Meeting was held before the Occupy Wall Street movement highlighted the role and power of corporate America in this nation’s wealth divide. Even then, according to Chris Pinney of the Aspen Institute, one of the researchers behind the new Council report on corporate philanthropy, Increasing Impact, Enhancing Value: A Practitioner’s Guide to Leading Corporate Philanthropy, corporate foundation grantmakers felt “disconnected.”

This infographic from the Charitable Giving Coalition shows why a cap on charitable deductions would undermine giving and have long-lasting consequences for all Americans.

From Mission Investors Exchange, 2012

The International Youth Foundation recently released a report that looks at the growing education and social challenges facing youth around the world. Commissioned by Microsoft, it underlines the emergence of an worldwide opportunity divide among young people.

As the new year sprints forward, I am struck by the amount of new thinking and new literature surrounding the topic of corporate social responsibility, particularly philanthropy. In meteorological terms, a new weather front has arrived and continues to generate unsettling conditions.

 

 

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. We hear that phrase and understand that the most difficult tasks are accomplished one step at a time, with resolve and long-term dedication. And I would add, with the help of each other.

At Dow, we see our 29-year partnership with Habitat for Humanity as this kind of a journey. It is an employee volunteering. A donation of our building materials. A financial gift that enables a construction project. All aligned for a bigger mission to provide safe, affordable housing all over the world.

Every year, International Corporate Philanthropy Day is observed on the last Monday in February to “raise awareness of corporate-community partnerships and inspire businesses around the world to engage further.” But did you know that the three most important words in the previous sentence are corporate-community partnerships?

I’m just back from an incredible visit to the Angkor Temple complex in Cambodia. It’s an area I’ve wanted to visit for some time, and I also have the added benefit of being able to see American Express philanthropic dollars at work there.

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