Just as product innovations, marketing and technological advancements are essential for a successful business, philanthropy has also become a corporate imperative. Business people such as
philanthropist Carl Freer have made it a point to embrace corporate volunteering and giving as an essential part of doing business.
When your business officially embraces a greater mission of doing good, your employees, customers, shareholders, and products and services all shine with a greater sense of purpose that actually encourages innovation and creativity.
Philanthropy is much more than handing over a check to a deserving charity. In order to positively impact the business world, it requires innovative thinking along with action to help solve some of society’s challenges. The same models for success that are applied in the business sector can also be applied to philanthropic endeavors.
Successful companies require employee engagement. Engaged employees believe in their company’s initiatives. It is a well-known truth that an inspired and engaged employee is much more productive than an employee who just waits for the paycheck. This is especially true for younger employees and future business leaders who understand the social challenges facing mankind and want to be part of a larger effort to help. If the company seriously engages in philanthropy, the employee will also contribute.
Your business depends on customers to succeed, which is why most companies put a lot of emphasis on excellent customer service. All businesses have a relationship with the community in which they operate. Customers also want to feel good about the companies they interact with and patronize, and if they see first-rate philanthropic activity, there is a much better chance your company will have a more loyal customer base and a strong bond with the community.
There are other perspectives on corporate philanthropy. It can be approached as an investment in social issues. It allows companies to invest in sectors where the ROI is more speculative. For example, a company that manufactures food items may invest in heart research or childhood obesity. This adds value to both the company and the society. If the socially responsible investment is too high of a risk and there aren’t enough venture capitalists to make it work, philanthropists can come to the rescue and get it off the ground until it begins to turn a profit.
Some companies go even farther. There are IT companies that send consultants all over the world to cities with underdeveloped communities. They use their company’s expertise to analyze the social challenges, provide solutions and help improve areas such as public safety and healthcare. Education is an area where major corporate philanthropic giving has risen in the past five years.
Corporate philanthropy differs from individual philanthropy in that it is not disinterested. An individual can give whatever they want to any charity, foundation or organization they choose because the money is theirs to give. A business is using stockholder’s money and always focuses its philanthropic endeavors in a direction that serves the long-term interest of the company. This usually means giving to institutions that support a strong private sector. Sustainability is the basis of good business, and it should also be the basis of philanthropic giving. It should help the community flourish.