Business Operations

5 Arguments for Above-and-Beyond Corporate Philanthropy

How generous is your organization?

Virtually every privately held corporation engages in corporate giving on some level. Even the most profit-driven owners have priorities beyond the four walls of their enterprises, after all. If nothing else, these priorities involve self-interest, and the attendant “philanthropy” manifests pragmatically — most often as contributions to political officeholders and candidates aligned with shareholders’ self-interest.

It’s a free country. There’s nothing wrong with companies putting their money to work for their own interests. But the corporate leader who believes that the only permissible form of corporate philanthropy is one which redounds solely to their enterprise’s bottom line may be leaving goodwill on the table.

If you’re sympathetic to the notion that philanthropy is best left to non-corporate actors, consider these five arguments for doing more than the bare minimum to burnish your organization’s charitable bona fides.

1. It’s the Right Thing to Do

If nothing else, corporate generosity puts you on the correct side of the moral continuum. That’s the thinking behind the all-out philanthropic blitzes of companies like Majestic Steel USA, whose president and CEO Todd Leebow has invested countless associate-hours in long-term partnerships with nonprofits, including the Ronald McDonald House of Greater Cleveland.

2. It’s Not Bad for Your Bottom Line

As any accountant worth his or her hourly fee will tell you, corporate philanthropy can be a boon for your bottom line. That’s due to a bevy of tax incentives for charitable giving; if you’re not sure how to maximize the fiscal impact of your company’s giving plan, ask your tax advisor today.

3. It’s a Fantastic Way to Make New Connections

The charity circuit is a prime place to forge new professional connections, some of which will endure beyond the temporary circumstances that brought you together. Block out time on your calendar to attend one or two philanthropic events each month. These needn’t be all-day affairs; in-and-out happy hours can be just as effective for networking.

4. It Could Empower Your Employees

These days, it’s all growing employers can do to attract and retain top talent. Few attraction and retention strategies pack more punch than employee-directed philanthropy, especially when employees are empowered to take the lead on selecting the organizations that receive their employers’ largess.

5. It Factors Into Your Corporate Brand (Whether You Realize It or Not)

Like it or not, the buying public judges your organization on its relationship with the wider community, not just the quality of its products and services. Giving back in public fashion is a surefire way to show potential customers that you really do care.

Your Community Is Counting on You

You’ve heard the arguments against corporate philanthropy. Now, you’ve heard the arguments for above-and-beyond corporate philanthropy. 

Which do you find more persuasive?

It’s clear that your organization’s self-interest may overlap with the interests of your local community to a far greater extent than you realize. As a de facto leader in that community, what are you prepared to do to keep it competitive, equitable, and just — to ensure, in so many words, that it’s a place you’d be proud to call your home?

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