It used to be that good corporate citizenship consisted primarily of grants to community organizations such as soup kitchens and little league teams. But what were once ad-hoc donations have now evolved into something far more sophisticated. For many companies, philanthropy is closely tied to corporate identity, supporting the company’s marketing and branding objectives, engaging its employees, and enhancing its relationship with the community (or communities) it serves. The emerging trend is for a company’s values, interests, and brand to be integrated into everything that it does, including and especially its philanthropy.
Many corporations choose to focus their giving on a signature charitable issue or cause that they can “own.” By concentrating on a core issue, especially one that is aligned with the company’s business interests, companies find that they can have a significant social impact while reaping other substantial benefits: heightened brand awareness; deep engagement with employees; goodwill with the community; and positive publicity. Moreover, by choosing an issue that aligns with the business and with which it is therefore familiar, the company enhances its chances for success. Instead of finding its way on unfamiliar ground, the company can harness its native expertise, resources, and networks.
Having chosen a core issue, corporations commonly work toward their philanthropic goals by forming long-term, strategic partnerships with nonprofit organizations. Consider a technology company that wants to support and encourage the next generation of talent in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).