In 2013 corporate philanthropy accounted for five percent (or $16.76 billion) of the total giving in the U.S. While corporate giants account for millions in giving, the vast majority of the U.S. is made up of small businesses, those with less than 500 employees that also generously give. More importantly, small and medium businesses are even more prevalent in south Florida and their biggest challenge regarding charitable giving is how to get the most out of their dollar.
The Great Recession caused many companies to re-evaluate their giving. With less money, the days of checking writing became obsolete. Instead, the notion of being strategic with your corporate giving gave birth and companies slowly began to invest wisely and treat philanthropy as business strategy.
Companies, big and small, that want to be strategic with their corporate giving need to ask themselves 5 simple questions:
- What are the company’s goals/business interests?
- What are the company’s values?
- Where is the company currently giving and why?
- How can the company position itself philanthropically to help meet a business need or opportunity?
- How does the company want the public/customers to perceive it?
Corporate philanthropy needs to make business sense. It’s no secret that the goal of every company is to generate profits. Often times, corporate philanthropy is justified by the return on investment it will have for the organization – whether through brand awareness, emerging markets, employee morale and retention or consumer perception.
Idealists will argue that companies should give because it’s their moral responsibility – and there’s some truth to that. However, using corporate philanthropy as a business strategy is a wonderful collaboration and incentivizes companies to continue to give if they see it as a return.
And while cash is still king, companies also have the opportunity to strategically maximize and allocate their resources, products/services and staff to lead in a big way when it comes to giving smart:
- Donate Products/Services: Evaluate the types of products and services the company can offer and decide what situations it can help with.
- Use Your Business Model: A company can also look to how it does business as a way helping. UPS, for example, extends their logistics expertise and transportation assets to get products to disaster stricken areas.
- Volunteer your Employees: Volunteers constitute for 94% of the total workforce. Matching your employees’ interest or skill-set with a charity is an easy way to give back.
- Work with Business Partners: Discuss with your partners opportunities where collaboration can occur when discussing charitable giving, programs or initiatives.
- Reach Out to Consumers: Some companies have millions of customers and can easily tap into them to raises funds or awareness about a cause.
The direction in which we will continue to see companies give is quite clear. They are putting a strategy in place for their giving and resources to align with company goals, values and business objectives – investing more money in fewer charities and having a greater impact on the social issue.