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Breathing New Life into Corporate Philanthropy

If there’s one thing we think most people can agree on, it’s that philanthropy is a good thing! Not only does it help the communities around us (and that’s about as big a benefit as there is!), it offers the companies that embrace it a lot of great benefits, too. Corporate philanthropy programs can boost company image, help secure & keep top talent, and even increase brand loyalty. In fact, A recent study by the Zeno Group shows that buyers are four times more likely to buy from and support a company with a clear and strong purpose—in other words, one that cares about doing good. These are some pretty powerful benefits, and if your team is missing out on them it might be time to rethink your current corporate philanthropy program!

To get to the heart of the matter—and to develop a stellar philanthropic strategy—we think it’s time to breathe new life into the old corporate giving strategies. Let’s explore what corporate philanthropy really is, how it’s changing, and then dive into some simple ways to develop or rejuvenate your efforts.

What is corporate philanthropy?

According to the Council on Foundations, “Corporate philanthropy refers to the investments and activities a company voluntarily undertakes to responsibly manage and account for its impact on society.” But what does that really mean, especially in this day and age? To put it simply: corporate philanthropy includes the many ways that companies give back, including the donation of money, products, in-kind services, employee volunteer hours, and more. Think Pledge 1% from our previous blog series!  

While all of this sounds good in theory, creating an engaging corporate philanthropy program can be challenging!  Former methods of developing a philanthropy strategy—like choosing one cause for employees to donate to or only creating one fundraising campaign for a couple weeks out of a year—just aren’t enough to fully engage your employees and create that strong brand image. Don’t get us wrong, any action is helpful and should be celebrated, yet today’s modern consumers and employees want something more. 

Companies need help to revitalize their philanthropic efforts… and that means coming up with a whole new way of looking at your philanthropy of corporate giving and volunteering —one that encourages companies to be active agents of social change by boldly and intentionally making their corporate social responsibility a key part of their business.

How can we improve corporate philanthropy?

To get started, remove the word “corporate”—and all the baggage that comes with it—from the equation! Now we’re getting down to the root of philanthropy itself: donating to the causes we care about and advocating for them in whatever ways we can. Any size company can get involved and encourage their team to make an impact, in fact, smaller companies tend to give more on average!

Whether your team is returning to the office, or not, here are five ways to start breathing new life into your philanthropic efforts.


Before you start on anything, take the time to listen and gather feedback. Listen to your employees. Seek out their concerns, their ideas, and their existing efforts to get a better understanding of the voices in your company. Then, use what you find to develop a program that your employees will embrace and get excited about! You may find your employees lean more to organizing workplace volunteering, or receiving double the impact through matching donations, or simply focusing extra profits throughout the year on holiday giving!

In a similar fashion don’t forget to listen to your community, both in the geographic and industry senses. Where are your efforts—and your company’s unique talents—needed most? How can you support growth and development in these areas in the best way possible? We often jump to the donation of money as the best route, but sometimes skilled volunteer hours or in-kind donations are even more meaningful.

If you find out that most of your employees really want to  get out into the community, give them a larger amount of volunteer time off! As a bonus: consider group volunteer outings so your employees can get to know one another better!

Personalize it.

One of the best ways to get your employees to care about giving is to personalize it. Make them feel like your company’s corporate philanthropy supports the causes they care about. Maybe this means developing an employee-run philanthropic committee. Maybe this means onboarding them with $50 to donate using a system like Selflessly! Maybe this means creating competitions that award the winners with dollars to donate or an extra day of paid volunteer time off Either way, make it personal!

Make it a part of your company’s values.

Of course you know that embracing corporate social responsibility means more than just posting a boilerplate on your website (you probably wouldn’t be here otherwise). While most companies these days have a solid CSR strategy with corporate giving as a primary pillar, it doesn’t mean much if it’s not at the forefront of what you do daily and if your employees are not participating.

Bring your company’s philanthropic efforts into your day-to-day operations, and make it a part of your company’s overall values. Be sure your executive leadership is involved in some manner. Include information about your efforts in your job postings, in your annual reports, and just generally make it an important part of your work.

Track and analyze it.

Once you start going in earnest, be sure to understand your efforts. One way is to double check your employee participation rate to have an understanding of the health of your corporate philanthropy program. If employees are not participating in either volunteering their time or donating  to causes they care about, consider incorporating some of the above! 

If you lack insight or data to better understand your company trends, chat with our team at Selflessly to see how we can take some of the burden off of your team! We love helping to engage employees in corporate giving and volunteer programs. With Selflessly, employees can donate or volunteer effortlessly with just a couple clicks… That’s all it takes!

Talk about it… a lot.

We saved the easiest for last. Talk about it as much as you can!

Talk about it with your employees. And not just during Giving Tuesday or your annual giving campaign (although we’re certainly fans of annual giving campaigns!). Work it into weekly or monthly company memos. Highlight teams that are going the extra mile. Create a space where each of your employees feels valued for giving back.

And we don’t just mean talking about it with your employees. We might just regret if we didn’t mention,  Selflessly’s platform makes it easy to build out annual giving reports that show where your company’s efforts are going, so talk about it with everyone else, too.

Use the information you gather to build out giving reports, to align your giving efforts with your overall mission, and to discuss your corporate philanthropy with your board. 

Take your philanthropy to the next level with Selflessly

Your company has plenty of daily challenges! With Selflessly, your corporate philanthropy doesn’t have to be one of them. Our unique platform helps companies develop a purpose-driven culture with an easy tool that allows employees to track their giving, coordinate efforts, celebrate all the great work your team is doing, and generate actionable data to share the results. If you’re ready to breathe new life into your corporate philanthropy, drop us a note—we’d love to chat!

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