Leading Corporate Philanthropy

In conversations across the country with foundations leaders who generously helped to crystalize the Council’s vision for the future, one thing was clear. These philanthropic leaders are devoted to the missions and communities they support and are constantly looking for ways to do more.

In conversations across the country with foundations leaders who generously helped to crystalize the Council’s vision for the future, one thing was clear. These philanthropic leaders are devoted to the missions and communities they support and are constantly looking for ways to do more.

As 2019 comes to a close, I’m reflecting on my first year at the Council on Foundations. I’m proud of the strides we’ve made in forging strong relationships across the sector, moving our policy agenda forward, supporting the professional growth of members and reimagining both our membership model and our vision for the future of the Council.

If we consider the Internal Revenue Act of 1935 as the start of corporate philanthropy – a time when companies were permitted to deduct 5% of pretax earnings for charitable gifts, it could be concluded that corporations have influenced the philanthropic sector for more than 84 years.

Amid a complex climate for charitable giving, American individuals, bequests, foundations and corporations gave an estimated $427.71 billion to U.S. charities in 2018.

CECP’s Giving in Numbers is the unrivaled leader in benchmarking on corporate social investments. It is the premier industry survey and research, providing standard-setting criteria in a go-to guide that has defined the field and advanced the movement. CECP has the largest and most historical data set on trends in the industry, shared by more than 500 multi-billion-dollar companies over nearly 15 years, representing more than $250 billion in corporate social investments over that time span.

The 2017 Cone Communications CSR Study reveals one major takeaway for companies: consumers are no longer just asking, "What do you stand for?" but also, "What do you stand up for?" In today's tumultuous society, Americans expect companies to not only improve their business practices and invest in social issues that are aligned with the company, but to be a force for change in broader society. They want companies to stand up for important social justice issues and advance progress for the world at large - and this means doing business with entities that care and share their beliefs. The study, with benchmark data as far back as 1993, examines not only consumer attitudes, perceptions and behaviors around CSR, but also if and how companies should stand up for social injustices.