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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“Have a great day and let your sun shine!” These are my departing words for my 8-year-old daughter every morning at drop off. It’s my rally cry hoping she unleashes her true self on the world (well, ok, her second-grade classroom) in everything she does.

I initially became interested in philanthropy while serving as artistic director of The Harmony Theatre Company, which I cofounded while an undergraduate at Columbia University. Navigating the funding landscape was a nigh-constant challenge, and it was clear that I would need to ascertain quite a bit more if Harmony were to be an artistically successful and financially viable endeavor. 

I hope this newsletter finds you well and ready for summer!

Thank you to all who joined us in Miami for the Leading Together 2019 Conference. It was an amazing week of connecting, learning, celebrating and building with peers from across the globe. I found the time spent invigorating, and our hopes are that participants left inspired and charged to implement new ideas and collaborate with others to advance good throughout their respective bodies of work.

What an incredible announcement on May 19 by billionaire and philanthropist Robert F. Smith who pledged to pay off the student loans of all 2019 Morehouse College graduates. How great for these students. However, as some observe, this incredible gesture of generosity may have a downside in the form of a potential tax bill for the students receiving the debt forgiveness.

Social impact organizations do tough but vital work in under-resourced spaces — spaces constantly shrinking due to humanitarian emergencies, natural disasters, armed conflict and oppressive governments. The international donor community’s response to this challenging landscape has increasingly shifted toward strengthening local efforts, recognizing that a resilient local civil society is better suited to address challenges than external assistance.

Women’s foundations and funds have established themselves as a powerful force in philanthropy dedicated to women and girls. Giving from these organizations is substantial, but aside from a 2009 landscape report from the Foundation Center and Women’s Funding Network, our understanding of women’s foundations and funds is quite limited.

As companies file their 2018 taxes, several corporate philanthropic leaders have contacted the Council with concerns surrounding the new excise tax. As part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Section 4960 of the bill imposes a 21 percent excise tax on highly-paid executives of nonprofit organizations.

Council on Foundations and National League of Cities will convene the last of three conversations across the United States on racial equity. With support from the Lumina Foundation and Annie E. Casey Foundation, philanthropic and government leaders will come together to raise awareness about the social impact of structural racism while highlighting current efforts to dissolve and resolve racial conflict and disparity.