The precedent-setting commitment of Warren Buffet and Bill Gates to charitable work is bringing corporate philanthropy to the forefront. After many years of corporate scandals and Sarbanes-Oxley news, the tipping point has arrived. Corporate philanthropy is good—both for business and the nonprofits that benefit from it. And the better news is... you don't have to be in big business to do it.
Corporate philanthropy may be called by a variety of names, including corporate social responsibility, corporate citizenship, or corporate giving. In larger companies, it can fall under the banner of the community relations, community affairs, or even public relations departments. Over the past several years, however, companies that have realized the potential that corporate philanthropy has to offer their brands have re-allocated responsibility to the marketing and branding departments.
According to Philip Kotler and Nancy Lee, authors of, Corporate Social Responsibility: Doing the Most Good for Your Company and Your Cause, corporate social responsibility is "a commitment to improve community well-being through discretionary business practices and contributions of corporate resources."
Corporate philanthropy (CP) has also taken on many forms in recent years.
For many companies, grants or in-kind donations are still the preferred distribution methods, allowing companies to spread their CP budget among many community organizations and causes. In-kind donations give companies an opportunity to provide their expertise, services, or products to a charitable organization. Examples: an accounting firm that conducts an organization's annual audit pro bono, an advertising agency that provides pro bono creative, or a bottled water distributor that donates its products to a fundraising run.
This popular method gives companies exposure in a variety of events and fundraisers, for a host of causes. For the array of charity balls, galas, and fundraising runs and walks, it's a way nonprofits can generate revenue while attracting participation from corporations and businesses.
Elaine Fogel is president and CMO of Solutions Marketing & Consulting LLC, and a marketing and branding thought leader, speaker, writer, and MarketingProfs contributor. She is the author of the Beyond Your Logo: 7 Brand Ideas That Matter Most for Small Business Success.
LinkedIn: Elaine Fogel