Corporate Philanthropy Today: Globalization and Employee Giving
Chief Executive Officer
International Corporate Philanthropy Day is a great time to reflect on how much corporate philanthropy has changed in a relatively short time. Corporate philanthropy used to mean disconnected, individual philanthropic acts, but over the years it has come to mean much more. Today philanthropy is just one aspect of a larger corporate social responsibility (CSR) platform that plays an important role in business strategy. Over my twenty years in the nonprofit sector, I have assisted many corporations in aligning their giving with business strategy; this has given me a front row seat to watch corporate philanthropy trends develop on a global scale. There are two themes in particular that I have seen develop—the increasing globalization of corporate philanthropy and the importance of incorporating employee engagement into CSR programs.
As corporations become more global, so does their giving; businesses are targeting their CSR efforts in communities in which they operate or have a customer base. According to CECP's 2012 Giving in Numbers report, companies that generated more than half of their total revenue from abroad gave more than 20 percent of their total contributions to international programs. Countries with emerging markets (such as Brazil, India, China and many African nations) are seeing positive changes in their giving landscapes thanks in large part to major corporations viewing CSR activities in these regions as long term business investments, rather than simple philanthropy. As globalization makes the world smaller every day, supply chains, a diverse employee base and international customers make it important for even U.S.-based companies with no direct international presence to think globally when it comes to their philanthropic efforts. This is especially exciting for us at Global Impact because international giving is our specialty; with member organizations in virtually every developing country in the world, we can create custom giving solutions that meet business goals.
The opportunity to use employee engagement for business strategy should not be underestimated. Global Impact worked with Ecolab this year to use philanthropy as a way to welcome and involve employees as they integrated two companies. The company being merged into Ecolab had a historically deep philanthropic interest in water issues. Ecolab asked us to design a fund for their employees through their workplace giving campaign featuring our member organization, Water for People. The fund was very popular among employees, but more than that, it welcomed newly integrated employees into Ecolab by offering them a familiar choice. This is a fantastic example of using philanthropy in the workplace to go beyond charity. It can unite employees around a cause and make them feel more engaged with the company they work for, in this case, a new employer.
Another one of our partners, UnitedHealth Group, is also a good example of using giving to engage employees. Because of their diverse international businesses and operations and the fact that their employees are dotted across the world, UnitedHealth Group decided to include Global Impact’s charity partners in their employee giving campaign. Through this campaign, UnitedHealth Group empowers employees to give to the charities of their choice and matches employee gifts to nine featured giving partners and their 12,000+ member organizations that align with the company’s strategic giving practices. Global Impact’s Charity Alliance has been very popular among UnitedHealth Group’s employees because of the wide variety of international charities we offer—in fact, UnitedHealth Group employee giving to these charities has increased significantly in the past few years. To further engage employees in their campaign, UnitedHealth Group utilizes simple but effective technology tools that allow employees to share stories about their philanthropic interests in a virtual environment on the company’s intranet site. Offering these virtual sharing opportunities has allowed employees across the globe to share with each other why or how they give, despite geographic boundaries. This campaign truly demonstrates how a corporation can use its resources and philanthropic dollars to get employees excited about workplace giving and build community within a large international company.
At Global Impact, we are supporting the alignment between corporations and philanthropy and we are excited to participate in efforts to raise CSR awareness through initiatives like International Corporate Philanthropy Day. Philanthropy in the corporate world has come a long way in a very short time—it is incredibly rewarding to watch CSR evolve over time and to know that we’ve had a hand in shaping it.
A Moment When Service Shined
Manager, Strategic Engagement
February 13, 2013--Last week, I had the opportunity to tour the Hurricane Sandy relief and recovery projects in the Far Rockaways in Queens with Points of Light as part of their Corporate Service Council meeting. Being a New Yorker myself, I was eager to see first-hand the areas affected and to witness the tireless work of rebuilding. Representatives from New York Cares, a Points of Light affiliate, guided us as we drove down Rockaway Boulevard, where less than half of the businesses have re-opened. In the first two months since Sandy made landfall, New York Cares volunteers have filled 14,000 slots on 924 disaster-related projects, where they “mucked out” (i.e., cleared out anything that sustained water damage) more than 300 water-damaged homes in an effort to get residents back in their homes.
It was crucial for New York Cares to organize the initial outpouring of volunteers so they wouldn’t get in the way of the city’s first responders. Even now, several months later, New York Cares serves as the primary source of relief operations in Brooklyn and Queens, with efforts expected to continue through the spring and into the summer. This organization runs busses of volunteers from lower Manhattan to their staging site every day. Projects progress from “muck out” to mold removal before the eventual rebuilding can begin.
CECP Webinar Recap
On July 13, CECP was invited to lead a VolunteerMatch Best Practice Network webinar, titled "Giving in Numbers: Emerging Trends in Corporate Giving." In this post, Jesse Fineman of VolunteerMatch provides a recap of the discussion. This post originally appeared on the VolunteerMatch blog.
July 21, 2011 -- Even as our economy recovers from a downturn, surveys show that corporate giving levels have risen. Alison Rose, Manager of Standards and Measurement at CECP presented these findings and more in “Giving in Numbers: Emerging Trends in Corporate Philanthropy” on July 13th. This webinar was part of our continuing Best Practice Network series.
Guest Contributor, CECP Blog