Founder of Orenda Connections, a corporate philanthropy consulting company
1. What is strategic philanthropy and where did the concept originate?
So many businesses today want to give back and make a contribution to the community, and yet many are finding that writing a check at the end of the year isn't quite capturing the spirit of giving they are aiming for. Strategic corporate philanthropy harnesses the desire of companies that want to give back and channels that giving spirit into so much more than a line item on their balance sheet. It involves developing a "partnership" with the right charity and integrating that partnership into the corporate culture. For me the concept originated with personal experience. As the former vice president of sales for a major Utah nutritional manufacturer, sales more than doubled during my tenure at the company after a long period of being flat. The difference wasn't in changing products, pricing, people or marketing. It was in changing culture. A significant contributing factor to that culture change was our philanthropy program. Like Avon's partnership with breast cancer, strategic philanthropy just makes sense.
2. How can a company benefit by practicing strategic philanthropy?
By integrating a program of giving into a corporate culture, the inspiration that impacts the workplace can dramatically improve employee morale. People want to give back. Look at the outpouring of support for the tsunami relief effort. If management provides and visibly supports a vehicle for employees to contribute, they will. When employees are able to work for more than just a paycheck, an environment is created that they are proud to belong to, and that sense of belonging to something great inevitably creates a buzz which spreads to customers, to the community and beyond. The rewards of employee and customer loyalty are not always immediately measurable but ultimately, inevitably, lead to dramatic business growth.
3. How does a company get started in developing such a program?
A good philanthropy program involves specific criteria, but does not need to be overwhelming or distracting from day-to-day business issues. It first requires management's support and vision. Company leaders will set the stage for the success of the program. Ideally, top management will champion the program and the project management will be assigned internally or outsourced to a consultant such as Orenda. Once a strategic fit is found in the charity world, fund-raising and participation programs will be developed, and a regular communication plan developed. A critical component of an effective philanthropy program is the sense of ownership that is created by the ongoing feedback of the difference that the organization is making.
4. Where can readers turn for more information?
There is a growing interest in strategic corporate philanthropy. Business schools and publications are starting to pay attention to the undeniable benefits and inevitable inclusion of it as good business practice. Orenda is a corporate philanthropy consulting company. By connecting company and cause, Orenda helps businesses develop and integrate strategic philanthropy programs into their corporate culture, resulting in additional inspiration in the workplace, respect in the community, revenue to the top line and contribution to the world. Visit Orenda at http://www.orendaconnections.com, or call 801-502-8989.