Give and You Shall Receive: The Business Case for Corporate Giving
By Autumn Chmielewski, Access Philanthropy
What would you be willing to give in order to:
- Create awareness for your business
- Strengthen your brand
- Gain a competitive advantage
- Increase customer satisfaction
- Retain top talent
- Increase employee job satisfaction
There’s no doubt about the positive association between socially responsible business initiatives and economic success. Businesses that give back enjoy a stronger bottom line.
According to the 2013 Cone Communications Social Impact Study, a whopping 91% of Americans want to see more companies support worthy issues. And they will reward them for it.
Maybe that’s why businesses gave nearly $18 billion to nonprofit organizations in 2013.
If you own or operate a business, chances are you’ve been asked to donate to at least one – and probably many more – charitable organizations and nonprofits in your community.
As you sort through the myriad requests and try to decide what to support, how much to give, or whether to give at all, remember that corporate philanthropy takes many forms. From writing a check to dispatching employee volunteers; from making in-kind donations to lending your expertise. It all adds up.
Whether you already oversee a robust giving campaign or are just starting to consider the benefits of corporate philanthropy, here’s a best practice list to help move your business giving in the right direction:
- Understand what you’re getting into – corporate philanthropy should be taken seriously and not just used as a public relations boost for your company. (Positive PR, however, may be considered the icing on the cake.)
- Align your company’s giving primarily with your business interests and activities – if you are in the business of pet grooming/boarding then it makes sense to give to animal-related causes.
- Accountability and transparency are key – develop and make public your company’s guidelines for giving. (This also makes saying “no” a lot easier because requesting organizations know your priorities.)
- Give money in the name of your company, not in the name of the owner or CEO.
- Plan and implement a process to understand how requests for support will be assessed and approved.
- Be sure to communicate to employees what you’re doing and why. And involve them in your philanthropic efforts.
- And tell your customers!
- Determine how you will measure and evaluate the community impact of your giving.
- What is the impact on your company? Return on investment is important if you are going to continue to give. Indeed, your ROI may spur you to give more.
- Periodically reevaluate your giving program and make sure there continues to be a strong case for your giving.
With careful planning and thoughtful engagement, your business can enjoy both the economic success associated with corporate philanthropy and the improved internal business culture that comes when people do good together.
Specializing in philanthropy, and for more than 30 years, Access Philanthropy leaders have consulted with thousands of organizations ranging from the smallest American Indian communities and neighborhood organizations to major universities, public television outlets, school districts, Fortune 500 companies, United Way chapters, and national and local foundations.
Roberta Worrell, Managing Director at Access Philanthropy, can be reached at email@example.com.