Charity: A Corporate Commitment

Posted on January 20, 2011 by admin 1 Comment

As we come to the end of the year and the beginning of the holiday season, various charitable organizations accelerate their efforts to tug at the hearts of individuals for commitment to various causes. Over the year, and especially at this time of the year, corporations are inundated with requests ranging from direct financial contribution, sponsorship of and participation at fund raising events, and indirect contributions to different causes. For senior leaders of companies who are active with a specific faith group, there is the added expectation of significant involvement by the corporations and their leaders in their efforts locally and globally.
In a year where we will likely have three major elections, contributions to the political process have also taken a bite out of available resources. Globally, the world faces various crises and a number of new initiatives to address and support these crises have been launched, each looking to raise awareness and raise funds.
Corporations and key individuals within these organizations struggle to balance how much they can afford to give, who they give this to and how they track the viability of the various causes. One could divide the causes into six broad categories:
Social Support …

where the cause is related some social cause, local or national or global. Examples of which could be the United Way, Good Samaritan Society, Aga Khan Foundation, CARE Canada etc …
Disaster Relief …

where this is in direct response to certain man-made or natural disasters. Examples of which could be the hurricane relief, wars, repatriation and agencies such as the Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, Focus etc …
Policy Groups …

where groups have been formed to promote various causes such as the environment, women or racial equity, against war, against taxes etc … examples of which include Green Peace, World Wildlife Fund and some more controversial groups.
Academic-Medical Institutions …

this is a growing group where each institution is looking to build an endowment and appeal to a broader business community and their alumni. The amounts involved in this are huge …
Religious Contributions …

where individuals contribute to their religious affiliated groups for various causes … building a new prayer or social facility, daily operation, youth camps etc …
Political Process …

this occurs primarily during the election season where one contributes to an individual candidate or to the broader party.
There are probably others, but they would fit within such a framework. As I was putting together this list, one is amazed at the breadth of commitment required and of course the new emerging group of highly compensated individuals who help organizations in the fund raising effort. So how does a corporation work through this maze, be effective as a corporate citizen but remain disciplined and remain within a defined strategy.
There are three aspects that can help drive corporate responsibility …
CORPORATE GIVING …

what are the areas that corporations should give directly. Management (the larger companies do this with their Boards) defines a strategy as part of the annual planning process of what their commitment would be and it would be distributed. Generally it does not make sense for corporations to support policy groups, religious entities or the political process directly. Given the multi-faith and fairly diverse employee base in many organizations, supporting any of these directly will likely create tension internally and have a significant negative impact externally if clients differ in their opinions with the corporation.
Academic/Medical Institution giving

supporting broader based golf tournaments, fund raising events (banquets) remain effective ways of creating broader awareness of company citizenship.
JOINT INDIVIDUAL/CORPORATE GIVING …

this remains by far the most effective way of creating internal excitement and making a significant impact especially within local community efforts. When individual contributions are matched by senior executives and further matched by the corporations makes for a very effective effort. This effort is especially effective, if the contribution by each individual can be assigned to their charity of choice thus allowing for broader acceptance.
INDIVIDUAL GIVING …

giving to policy groups, the political process and especially religious contribution should remain an individual effort and not associated with the corporation. Encouraging participation by employees within various organizations also helps create good citizenship.
It is clear that demands on corporations and individuals will continue to grow and having a solid corporate strategy of giving and promoting giving will make it easier to say “NO” as that is the hardest thing to with so many causes and so many close friends, all involved in so many different causes.
Building an organization of individuals committed to building a community is critical to creating a community within the organization that will help drive the business. But giving remains a very personal effort and organizations that are able to harness these very personal initiatives into a corporate effort find much satisfaction and success.
As Deepak Chopra says in his book (paraphrased) … the more you give, the more you get, and you create a cycle of giving and getting. The key is to have faith to give in the first place to start the cycle …
To who much has been given, much is expected …

One comment

  • Steven Bergg says:

    I can personally attest to the founder of Jaffer having a charitable disposition. Returning from breakfast one day we were walking down Jasper Ave. A beggar approached us and he gave her some money. I informed him nine out of ten beggars blow the money in the liquor store. He smiled and informed me that he agreed, however he was unable to discern which of the ten really needed it so he gave to them all so as not to miss the opportunity to help the one that had a real need and was trying to get help.
    I have told so many people that story and encouraged them to give to all. I am sure that one simple act of giving I witnessed has led to thousands of dollars being given to beggars. Some if which were in real and desperate need.
    With a founder of such great character, you can be assured this organization “walks the talk” when it comes to charity.

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