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CEOs Call for Maximum Impact from Corporate Philanthropy

By Tom Watson on March 8, 2007No Comment

 

Corporations

 

CEOs Call for Maximum Impact from Corporate Philanthropy
By: Charles Moore, 3/8/2007
 

Last Monday, in celebration of National Corporate Philanthropy Day, the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) convened thirty-five CEOs from Fortune 500 companies to discuss Imperatives for Corporations Investing in Society.

Our members, more than 145 CEOs and Chairpersons, recognize that employees, consumers and shareholders have growing expectations for business. To respond to this challenge companies must proactively integrate corporate philanthropy strategy into their business model. This roundtable discussion was an opportunity to discuss best practices for executive leadership in making the most impact on society and their businesses through effective philanthropy programs.

 

As the second iteration of the annual CECP ‘Board of Boards’ Conference, the discussion followed the structure of a business plan, recognizing the fact that corporate philanthropy is a form of social investment and should be treated like any other business investment. Conference participants discussed the following four imperatives for corporate giving:

Imperative 1 – Reflect the Corporate Culture
To successfully engage employees, customers, and shareholders, a philanthropy program should mirror the culture of the organization, engage employees, be genuine in its intentions, and be communicated with full endorsement by the CEO and executive leadership team. Social investment strategy should resonate internally and externally with company values, products, practices and goals to have the most significant impact.

Imperative 2 – Analyze Market Forces
Strategic giving programs should account for shifting external factors that affect business, such as globalization or public awareness around specific causes. Philanthropy can be used as an effective tool while growing the business or when facing challenges, but only when its goals are aligned with the overall objectives of the company. Specific examples that came to light during the conference included investing in a company’s future workforce, meeting changing stakeholder expectations, and responding to public perceptions of American business.

Imperative 3 – Pinpoint Opportunities
Once market forces and cultural values have been assessed, companies should pursue philanthropic focus areas and giving execution models that yield a self-reinforcing “sweet spot” of business and societal returns. Due diligence and dedication to a focused philanthropy program that is aligned with the company’s core competencies and values can lead to nonprofit partnerships that integrate all facets of the business—such as research and development, human resources, and marketing.

Imperative 4 – Build Sustainability
It is not only important for a corporate philanthropy program to be actively monitored and adjusted to ensure maximum effectiveness, but companies should also encourage program sustainability through communication and measurement efforts. Customers seek transparency and shareholders expect specificity and candor in understanding the business value of corporate giving. These elements ought to be incorporated into giving initiatives to ensure long-term support and success.

Like all CECP members, the CEOs who attended the roundtable are passionate about effecting social change and have empowered their companies to engage with communities locally and globally through corporate philanthropy. Attendees left the event ready to take advantage of the momentum to collaborate, share best practices, and implement the imperatives surfaced at the ‘Board of Boards’ CEO Conference. In fact, 94% of the attending CEOs indicated that they believe companies should work together to move the needle on social issues.

So what’s next? Before leaving the meeting, participants were surveyed by CECP to determine what issues and objectives were top of mind. Some apparent trends included: the importance of authenticity in corporate philanthropy, the necessity of involving employees from the planning process through execution, full integration of philanthropy into the business, and heightened attention to international giving programs.

Across industries, companies want to give more and ensure that their investments are well spent. Now is the time to take advantage of this opportunity.

About CECP
The Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) is the only international forum of business CEOs and Chairpersons pursuing a mission exclusively focused on corporate philanthropy. CECP’s mission is to lead the business community in raising the level and quality of corporate philanthropy. Engaging with the public, private, and independent sectors, CECP members seek and create opportunities to serve as corporate giving advocates, practitioners, educators, and spokespersons to advance the case for philanthropy and to inspire other business leaders to make a lasting commitment to community giving.

To find out more about this conference, National Corporate Philanthropy Day, or CECP’s other initiatives visit http://www.corporatephilanthropy.org/.

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