Give to Get: Corporate Support for Non-Profits

July 27, 2011

To many business owners focused on profitability and shareholder return, giving to non-profit organizations seems paradoxical. Why should a corporation tap its own resources to support another group or cause?

Sadly, with this view, U.S. corporate giving has reached a new low as a percentage of pre-tax profitability – a bit less than 1 percent. Non-profits have suffered, but so too have companies who have lost sight of the business value of philanthropy.

Entities who give strategically — aligning their efforts to their organizational goals – have a distinct competitive advantage. They help the communities in which they operate, consequently growing their future customer base. They create stronger bonds among employees, especially those who are granted time to volunteer with company-supported non-profits. They engender deeper support among colleagues and clients who share common values.

While I could fill multiple screens with more detail on developing your own strategic philanthropic program, let me suggest a couple alternatives.

First, pick up a copy of Curt Weeden’s latest book – Smart Giving is Good Business. Curt, one of the world’s most renowned experts on corporate giving, has counseled the likes of Starbucks, General Motors, Bausch + Lomb and others, with hundreds of groups having benefited from his wisdom, insights and tell-it-like-it-is, candid approach.

Second, look into joining the Association of Corporate Contributions Professionals, which will provide best practices, connections to colleagues, and forums to explore how your corporate giving can make the greatest impact.

Give to get. The equation is simple, even if taking that first step may prove a challenge.

-Mike McDougall (@MikeMcDoug)

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Mike McDougall is Senior Strategist of Communications and Public Affairs at McDougall Communications. McDougall has broad-based consumer and business-to-business experience in multiple sectors, including technology and health care. Past experience includes work at Bausch + Lomb and Kodak. McDougall is a well-respected volunteer and board member at the Ad Council of Rochester.

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For a snapshot of current corporate giving trends, click here.

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