Corporate citizenship delivers measurable business value when companies leverage their core competencies to address environmental, social, or governance issues. Corporate philanthropy benefits include increased employee engagement, higher brand awareness and reputation that increases sales, and even improved employee productivity.
Strong corporate citizens build a strong level of trust with their stakeholders – customers, employees, government officials, suppliers, and community leaders – by having clear social impact goals that align with their purpose.
In this article, we’ll discuss several ways companies can make donations to registered 501c3 charities to improve reputation and help their brand become recognized for social responsibility. These five types of corporate giving will not only engage your employees and consumers, they’ll help you become a valued corporate citizen that outpaces the competition.
Common Types of Corporate Giving that Get Business Results
Grants from a Private Foundation
Large corporations often create foundations that provide tax-deductible grants to support their local communities or chosen causes. Grants can also be given to national and international charities to increase your philanthropic profile.
Private foundations are easily recognizable, helping companies increase their charitable status and gain the attention of consumers. Unfortunately, they are also expensive to maintain, require a large amount of administration, and are subject to a high degree of financial regulation. Because of this, many businesses choose to combine their private foundation initiatives with more streamlined and customizable CSR programs that are easier for employees to engage with.
Donor Advised Funds (DAFs)
DAFs are similar to foundations, but are sponsored by other organizations, typically charities. Like private foundations, DAFs offer tax deductions to individual donors for donations, with the understanding that the funds will be used to make grants to public charities.
Donor advised funds are less expensive and time-consuming to maintain than private foundations, making them a good option for companies that want the same benefits of a foundation without the workload or financial burden.
Companies can use DAFs to donate funds or use corporate philanthropy tools, also known as philantech, that are built on DAF models. Philantech that incorporates DAFs allow companies to give from a corporate account while also giving employees the flexibility to create individual accounts and choose their own charities to support.
Employee Matching Gift Programs
Matching gift programs are a way to reward the charitable donations of your employees and encourage staff members to engage with your corporate responsibility program. Once an employee makes a donation to an eligible nonprofit, the company writes a check to the same charity for an equal amount. While not all companies provide a 100 percent match, many will match up to a certain percentage or dollar amount.
Employee matching gift programs are an excellent way for companies to engage employees while also participating in philanthropic initiatives, increasing their profile as a socially responsible organization.
Volunteer giving initiatives include grant programs encourage volunteerism in communities where employees live and work. Through these programs, companies provide monetary grants to organizations where employees volunteer. Employees log their volunteer time and get “paid” when the company donates to the charity.
Volunteer donations help charities in two ways – encouraging employees to volunteer their time while also providing financial support. Companies also get a higher return on volunteer grants because they can publicize their volunteer programs along with donations to increase their status as a charitable business.
Pro-Bono Activities and Other Donations
When it comes to giving, most companies offer time (volunteering) or money. However, there are other options as well. Companies can donate their expertise pro-bono to help charities with legal needs, marketing work, and other initiatives, for example. There’s also another type of giving category called non-cash donations that businesses can participate in.
Non-cash donations cover any corporate giving initiatives that don’t involve money. Food drives and donations of computers, furniture, equipment, and other items charities need are all considered non-cash donations.
Starting corporate giving campaigns around non-cash donations is a great way to get employees and consumers involved in your corporate philanthropy efforts. You can invite employees to donate and volunteer to run donation centers where the public can contribute goods. Marketing your campaigns and their success via social media will help connect your brand with positive social causes.
Combine Corporate Giving Initiatives into a Full Strategy
Companies shouldn’t limit themselves to just one. Many, if not all, of these programs can work together. For example, donor advised funds complement foundations by allowing companies to maintain their foundation presence while empowering employees to choose where their donations go. Matching gift programs can also be implemented with both DAFs and foundations, while volunteer programs complement all of the above.
Each type of corporate giving is a small piece of an overarching CSR strategy. When creating your corporate responsibility program, consider all these types of giving as well as other ideas your team has. Balance the needs of your company with your employees to create a program that transforms your business into a valued, socially-responsible corporate citizen.