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Corporate Giving: Charity or Good Business?

By Rebecca Adamson, President and Founder First Peoples Worldwide

July 16, 2013There are two basic models of corporate philanthropy. The charity model: write a check to a health clinic that fights AIDS or a school that focuses on educating girls, you’ve helped your community, you’re done. This approach is simple to do, and certainly a lot of good comes from it. But there’s a different model, one we like to call engaged giving, in which a company not only looks deeper into how it can support its surrounding communities, but how that process can serve its own goals and mission.

In 2012, Royal Dutch Shell established a precedent for engaged giving, a kind of win-win philanthropy. Because of our culturally appropriate approach to grantmaking, Shell asked First Peoples Worldwide to distribute $400,000 to indigenous-led development projects in the Americas and the Arctic. The company’s goal was to improve its community engagement by strengthening the decision-making power and cultural solidarity of indigenous communities in its areas of operation, and it imposed no restrictions on the communities or projects we could fund. This is important, because engaged giving should not be seen as a method of acquiring Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) for operations, but as a way of making real connections with, and a real difference in, your communities.