Aligning Philanthropy with Business and Brand Strategy

FacebookLinkedInTwitter

No corporate web presence would be complete without a section devoted to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The world, of course, has no shortage of challenges. Happily, there are corporate eleemosynary outlets of almost infinite variety ranging from the currently fashionable like sustainability to the consistently intractable like disease and poverty. Often CSR simply involves giving money to a chosen cause as a result of the personal preferences of the person (or committee) in charge of making the decision with little thought as to whether the recipient of the largess has any meaningful connection with the business of the company. Too often companies frame CSR initiatives as ancillary to their core businesses and serve as a necessary cost of doing business to bolster their brands.

philantropy2

It doesn’t have to be this way. Michael Porter’s Harvard Business Review article on shared value argues against reputation-focused CSR programs and instead details the outsized impact programs that deliberately align cause with commonly held corporate values have on customers, employees, society and shareholders alike. One way firms have responded Porter’s assertion has been to make in-kind donations, whereby the company gives goods, time or services where the unique capabilities of the organization yield even greater impact than cash. Here’s an example of such a simple in-kind donations that struck us as a pitch-perfect example of aligning corporate capability with unmet need:

Building Design Partnership (BDP) is a UK-headquartered architectural colossus, designing and building and illuminating some of the most innovative developments coming out of the ground across the globe. The firm recently contributed three lighting installations to Maggie’s Culture Crawl that will take place next month on September 20th. The Culture Crawl is a 15 mile walk through some of London’s cultural and architectural hot spots to raise funds for Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centers to fuel their work offering emotional, practical and social support for UK cancer patients and their loved ones.

Now some will argue that donating lighting for an event is not as efficient as donating a chunk of cash, say so a Maggie’s center can keep the lights on. But this donation in kind will enable BDP’s employees to experience the reactions to their talent and art from the people participating in the walk, all of whom are touched in some way by the disease. Employees who give in-kind donations also get a sense that what the company is doing on a day-to-day basis matters beyond simple transactional exchange for the benefit of larger society, and can see how their job contributes to a “greater good”. Customers and future employees tangibly understand that the BDP doesn’t just say it is good—it does good works and it deploys its business prowess to serve noble ends. And let’s not forget the Millennials who insist on meaning in their jobs, not just money. Young architects starting their careers will put a company like BDP on their radar of potential future employees over firms whose sole aim is to design for paying clients. The community at large benefits too by participating in a culturally enriching experience relevant to the underlying architecture business of BDP while supporting an emotionally taxed subset of its population.

Money is and will remain the universal solvent of philanthropy, and no fundraiser fails to light up when reading the words ‘unrestricted gift.’ But when summarily dispensed, money distances philanthropy—and the companies that fund it—from the impact of the donation. Unlike money, time cannot be regenerated. Charitable giving in the form of individual and organizational core competencies include both a time and frequently an element of unique expertise, maximizing the meaningfulness and impact of donations for all involved.

Ready for ‘exclusive access to wonderful buildings such as The EDF Energy London Eye, the Gherkin and the Foreign Office?’ If so, why not step up and step out with BDP and Maggie’s Culture Crawl 2013.

Now It’s Your Turn
FacebookLinkedInTwitter
Culture, Trends
Looking Back in Time: the 1920s vs. the 2020s

The end of a decade inevitably elicits a thoughtful analysis of the previous 10 years. What were the defining cultural phenomena of the decade? What inventions have helped us evolve? How should we view ourselves as a society now? While every decade has its remarkable facets, some decades are characterized by more noteworthy milestones, breakthroughs […]

Learn More
Technology Brands
Smart Cities Evolutions – Smart City Expo World Congress Barcelona

Each year at the end-of-November governments and private organizations at the vanguard of the smart cities movement convene at the Smart Cities Expo World Congress in Barcelona. For three days last week nearly 25,000 attendees from 143 countries explored innovations not only in the IoT, AI and 5G technologies underpinning smart cities, but also the […]

Learn More
Technology Brands
Mobile World Congress LA 2019: Full-Throttle 5G, But Huawei a No Show

Mobile World Congress Los Angeles just wrapped up a jam-packed week. It’s always a whirlwind of activity at MWC, with a full slate of client meetings, presentations, product launches, exciting companies coming up the ranks and the general feeling that we have a front-row seat to what’s new and next in tech innovation. Newly-christened this […]

Learn More
Corporate Culture
Remote Working as a Cultural Phenomenon

Remote working is now an established cultural phenomenon. From a societal and organizational point of view, a successful remote working policy must be a cultural imperative at an organization, with an intentionality behind it that strives to mitigate factors that weaken remote-worker success, such as poor communication, a sense of detachment from the organization, inadequate […]

Learn More

Ready to talk about how your brand and culture can do more for your business?

Let's talk
Let's talk