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07 Apr. 2016 | Comments (0)

Your corporate philanthropy program should be designed to help achieve your company’s foremost objectives. For many companies, these goals include growing demand for your products in emerging markets, building a more diverse consumer base to grow market share, and attracting and retaining a significantly larger workforce in a challenging environment.

Achieving success requires that you engage with other departments.

The company’s priority goals can be found in the CEO’s message on your company’s website or annual report. In order to create a philanthropy strategy that is instrumental in helping your company to achieve success and grow value, you need to interview the leadership of major departments, such as product design and development, sales, marketing, human resources, public relations, corporate social responsibility, and others. You can only design your philanthropy strategy for success by understanding the drivers and impediments that these divisions face in seeking to achieve the company’s priority goals.

Example 1: To grow demand in emerging markets

Consider this example. If your company seeks to grow demand for your products in emerging markets, there are at least a couple of ways to approach this. First, you want to help the company’s efforts to foster a culture of innovation and problem-solving that encourages people to design and adapt products for customers with diverse needs. One way to help drive innovation is by leveraging your philanthropy to engage your employees in intensive global probono projects through a nonprofit like PYXERA Global. People who return from these international experiences testify that they learn to become more creative and resourceful, while also gaining fresh insights about the needs of people from diverse cultures. (International Corporate Volunteering, Fast Company, 4.16.12)

Second, you might want to invest in economic development in emerging markets to help drive the emergence of the middle class—your future customers. You can do this, for example, by funding girls’ education and workforce development programs. This will involve meaningful partnerships with nonprofits that have valuable expertise, as well as credibility and relationships in communities you seek to engage and advance.

Example 2: To build a more diverse consumer base to grow market share

Assume your company seeks to build a more diverse consumer base to grow market share. First, your company needs to develop its awareness and understanding of people from a variety of communities and backgrounds. By leveraging your philanthropy to support the participation of your executives and professionals on nonprofit boards, you can help broaden their horizons and foster their understanding of people from different backgrounds. You can also use your philanthropy to encourage and support employee volunteering for an array of issues and in a variety of neighborhoods. This will also help your company to build goodwill more broadly.

Second, your company requires a more diverse workforce. Employees from a variety of backgrounds working throughout the company can bring awareness, sensitivity, and knowledge development to advance the company strategically, operationally, and with outside stakeholders, including new customer groups. You can leverage your philanthropy to help your company to recruit and retain a more diverse workforce by involving employees in relevant volunteer and nonprofit board service. For example, by supporting and engaging employees in nonprofits whose missions are focused on diversity; that advance children from a variety of backgrounds in STEM education and careers; and that help new immigrant families to navigate education and health services and get jobs. These commitments to diversity will support the company in becoming a welcoming place to employees from broad backgrounds.

Example 3: To attract and retain a significantly larger workforce in a challenging environment

Suppose your company seeks to attract and retain a far larger workforce in a community that’s underserved in education and social services. You can leverage both philanthropy and volunteer and nonprofit board service to strengthen the nonprofit sector. In this way, you can achieve multiple wins by helping to improve the community where you seek to grow your workforce. You will also engage your employees in meaningful service which will help bind them to the region, and make them and the community feel great about the company.

Building a better world, while growing your company’s value There is an extraordinary opportunity to leverage your company’s philanthropic dollars to grow your company’s value in the global marketplace while helping to build a better world. When corporate philanthropy is optimized, your contributions can help drive innovation, leadership development, and partnerships that help solve your community’s and the world’s most pressing social, economic, and environmental challenges.

I appreciate the opportunity to serve as Co-Editor of The Conference Board’s Giving Thoughts blog along with Alex Parkinson, Executive Editor. Please share your thoughts in the Reply section below and in emails to me: Alice.Korngold@conference-board.org

  • About the Author:Alice Korngold

    Alice Korngold

    Alice Korngold advises companies and NGOs on strategy, board governance, sustainability, ESG, and diversity and inclusion. She is the author of  A Better World, Inc.: How Companies Profit by Solv…

    Full Bio | More from Alice Korngold

     

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