Leading Corporate Philanthropy

A well-respected colleague and I recently had a troubling conversation. While we agreed that we are entering into a new era of corporate philanthropy, we found ourselves in a circular conversation with no shared platform to speak from about our differing strategies to achieve the triple bottom line impact.

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.”

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).

As the Council on Foundations plans for 2012, we’re looking for opportunities to partner with others to find effective ways to address the profound social and environmental challenges we all face. In addition, the Corporate Committee has been discussing the changing role of philanthropy as part of Corporate Philanthropy 2012. Here are some of the highlights so far: