Corporate Philanthropy: Start the new year with a new look at giving

| Print |  Email
Thursday, February 01, 2007

Creating a charitable giving program can be as simple as sitting down and writing out a list of what’s important to you.

As you reflect on the year past and the year to come, it’s common to begin to think about what you will do differently, even better in 2007. Like the personal fitness commitments we often make at the advent of a new year, now marks an opportunity for you to attend to the fitness of your business as well. One strategy that can move your organization toward well-rounded health is to start — or revamp — a corporate giving program.

As the end of the first decade of the new millennium approaches, philanthropy as a business strategy continues to hold a place of importance in shaping a company’s mission and values. According to the Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College, there are four principles that define corporate citizenship:

The five easy pieces of starting a giving program

1. Clarify your goals. Convene an internal committee to assess what your business hopes to accomplish by implementing a giving program. Goals may include support for an organization whose mission — such as education, the environment or health — aligns with your business and is important to your employees.

2. Identify tax benefits. Businesses can benefit from government tax incentives for charitable giving. In addition to your tax adviser, an organization such as the Oregon Community Foundation can advise you about the tax benefits of setting up a business or family foundation, as well as provide guidance on all aspects and choices for charitable giving to help maximize the success of your business’s philanthropic efforts.

3. Set a budget. Create a line item on your annual budget for the amount you will allocate to charitable giving. Once the annual donation amount is set, it can serve as a roadmap for how many worthy causes your business can support throughout the year.

4. Develop an internal process. Administration of the charitable giving function is important to overall program success. Before launching your program, determine logistics, such as how solicitations will be handled, frequency of donations, how donation history will be tracked and who will coordinate the actual contribution awards.

5. Establish clear criteria to evaluate requests. Because there are many worthy causes in every community, it can be difficult to choose where to give. By establishing criteria you can narrow the field of requests to those that best meet program objectives. Criteria can include: tax-exempt status, use of the donation, board size and activity level, and scope and importance of organization to the community.

Minimize harm:

Minimize the negative consequences of business activities and decisions on stakeholders, including employees, customers, communities, ecosystems, shareholders and suppliers. Examples include operating ethically, championing human rights, preventing environmental harm, treating employees responsibly and delivering safe, high-quality products.

Maximize benefit: Contribute to societal and economic well-being by investing for the benefit of the larger community, such as volunteering in the arenas of education, health care and family and youth development; ensuring stable employment; paying fair wages; and producing a product with social value.

Be accountable and responsive: Build relationships of trust and transparency. Create mechanisms to include the voice of stakeholders in governance, produce social reports assured by third parties, operate according to a code of conduct, and listen to and communicate with stakeholders.

Support strong financial results: The responsibility of a company to return a profit to shareholders must always be considered as part of its obligation to society.

In the same way that a business plan helps a company stay on a profitable course, a charitable giving program can help a business strengthen its position as a good corporate citizen and create an increased sense of satisfaction among employees.

Understandably though, the prospect of beginning a charitable giving program and choosing a worthy charity can be daunting.

Even if the economy has you worried, here are five simple steps your business can take to get a giving program started — or back on track.

Creating a charitable giving program can be as simple as sitting down and writing out a list of what’s important to you. Or it may take the form of a more organized series of meetings that include managers, employees or even customers. In any case, by setting a clear course up front, you can ensure a solid charitable giving program that will benefit your business and your community.

— Greg Chaillé, president,
Oregon Community Foundation; www.ocfl.org

 

More Articles

Business partnerships: taming the three-headed monster

Contributed Blogs
Monday, July 06, 2015
070615-businessmarriagefail-thumbBY KATHERINE HEEKIN | OB GUEST COLUMNIST

Picking a business partner is not much different than choosing a spouse or life partner, and the business break-up can be as heart-wrenching and costly as divorce.


Read more...

Is there life beyond Reed?

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY GARY THILL | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

A storied institution climbs down from the ivory tower.


Read more...

Big Trouble in China?

Guest Blog
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
0818-wellmanthumbBY JASON NORRIS | CFA

Earlier this month, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) announced they were going to devalue their currency, the Renminbi. While the amount of the targeted change was to be roughly 2 percent, investors read a lot more into the move. The Renminbi had been gradually appreciating against the U.S. dollar (see chart) as to attempt to alleviate concerns of being labeled a currency manipulator.


Read more...

Getting What You Pay For

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with Chris Maples, president of the Oregon Institute of Technology.


Read more...

Flattery with Numbers

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

The false promise of economic impact statements.


Read more...

5 things to know about veterans in the workforce

The Latest
Wednesday, July 01, 2015
070215-vetsthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

There are more than 10 million former military members working in the United States.


Read more...

Child care challenge

News
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
0927OHSUhealthystarts-thumbBY KIM MOORE AND LINDA BAKER

Child care in Oregon is expensive and hard to find. We delved into the numbers and talked to a few executives and managers about day care costs, accessibility and work-life balance.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS