Corporate Philanthropy for Social Good

To give clear perspective to this piece, it is fit that one start by tracing the etymology of the word “philanthropy”. The English word philanthropy is derived from the Greek word philantropos which translates literally to “man-loving” (kindly note that man as used here is generic to mean female and male). What this implies is that philanthropy is the unreserved expression of love and kindness towards human beings and the society as a whole. From tracing the history of the word philanthropy, we can easily deduce what Corporate Philanthropy means.

Corporate philanthropy is a branch of Corporate Social Responsibility centred around charitable donations – monetary or service – by business enterprises to support communities where they operate.

It is increasingly important, from a moral standpoint, for corporates to give back to society owing to the fact that communities and the people that inhabit them are the lifeblood of businesses; it is from selling goods and rendering services to them that businesses accrue profit and since the relationship between business and society is supposed to be interdependent, it therefore behoves on corporations to fulfill their own part of the relationship by deploying resources to promote social good. To reinforce this assertion is a report released by Oxfam in January 2017 which revealed that in the 2015/2016 fiscal year the “10 biggest corporations together have revenue greater than that of the poorest 180 countries combined”. Businesses have become excessively prosperous and now wield greater power than governments to mobilise resources and galvanise action towards addressing some of the biggest challenges facing humanity.

Copious examples abound to show that businesses smart enough to weave corporate philanthropy into their sustainability strategy reap what they donate in manifolds, directly and indirectly. A study titled “Marketing a Brand with a Social Cause” conducted in 2012 by Ty Henderson showed that charity influences customer behaviuor to a very large extent. His study revealed that customers patronise companies that promote social good much more than companies that do not. While probing further, Ty realised that in their minds, customers more often than not assume that companies big on charity have goods and services of superior quality and this assumption strengthens the bond of customer loyalty. It has also been established that citizens buy more from businesses that share their values as this satisfies their altruistic urge. Other tangible and intangible benefits of Corporate Philanthropy to corporations include; positive workplace environment, positive public image, higher employee retention and satisfaction, increased employee engagement and a positive public image.

Grants, matching gifts, employee grant stipends, employee volunteer day-off and volunteer support initiatives (legal aid, financial education, medical aid, etc.) are some of the corporate philanthropy techniques that organisations can deploy to promote social good.

We must note however that the success of a corporate philanthropy strategy relies heavily on proper planning and contextual consideration. Each organisation has to be deliberate and must consider pertinent concerns such as their organisation’s overall CSR approach and the needs of the target beneficiaries before finalising the corporate philanthropy process; adopting the one-size-fits-all approach will set the process up for failure from inception.

In conclusion, it is often said that “The best means of benefiting the community is to place within its reach the ladders upon which the aspiring can rise.’’ Corporations therefore have an important role to play in bridging the widening inequality gap to facilitate the achievement of a poverty free world by 2030 in accordance with the sustainable development goals mandate.



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