How to manage Corporate Giving, foundations, and disaster relief

When we talk about Corporate Giving, we mean the basics – giving money to charity, not doing much else and expecting little in return. For many companies this was the history of their community engagement.

Corporate Giving may be done directly, or a company could have its own foundation contributing money on behalf of the company. This is why foundations are also featured in this chapter. Whole books have been devoted to the topic so here we’ll give you the key principles behind corporate foundations and what to loo,k out for when starting to think about one.

Finally we’ll also cover what to do as a company when the worst happens and disaster strikes in a country where you operate. We’ll help you think about how your company should get involved, which could include Corporate Giving or foundation support, and the best process to follow.      

In a community sense, these three areas can all be addressed apart from your company’s core business. However, especially in times of financial crisis and budget cuts, whether it is Corporate Giving, foundations or Disaster Relief, a planned, structured, well-organized and well-managed, indeed, a professional approach is always best.

As this chapter covers a lot of ground, content has been divided into three subchapters:

4.1 How to manage your company’s Corporate Giving

4.2 Corporate foundations – whats, whys and hows

4.3 How to manage Disaster Relief on behalf of your business

You can find here a summary for each sub-chapter.  

4.1 How to manage your company’s Corporate Giving
Corporate Giving is the act of corporations donating some of their profits, or their resources, to non-profit organizations for charitable causes. 

Giving money is one basis of supporting your communities but, wherever possible, companies should always aim for more sophisticated involvement through community partnerships.

While Corporate Giving is decreasing in strategic importance, it is unlikely to die out. Sometimes there are just too many good reasons not to say no. But with a few simple steps, you can bring more structure, process and focus to your Corporate Giving, to achieve the best fit and value for your business:

First, set criteria for who you will and won’t give to. Align the criteria with your company’s business or CR strategy. Also be clear if there are themes or organizations your company will never support. With the organizations you choose to support, make sure you avoid reputation risk - pay attention to their reputation, track record and financial management.

In this context, also consider forms of non-monetary giving, such as products, supplies and equipment. It’s then important to know where it goes and how it will be used. Then also be aware that all of it counts towards the contributions your company makes to society – and can accordingly be reported on.  

Next, set up a giving framework so people in the company know who can do it – it could be all the local managers, just the CEO’s office or the Community Involvement Manager. Having a tiered framework of approval filters may help here, so the more that is planned to be given, the more strategically focused and aligned to company interest it can be.

A template Cause Evaluation Chart and a template rejection letter for those causes that just don’t fit are provided in this chapter’s appendix.  

4.2 Corporate foundations – whats, whys and hows
Corporate foundations are only one of countless types of foundations that exist. They are usually set up having a strong philanthropic remit, often one that is not necessarily close to the company’s core business.

When considering whether setting up a foundation is the right thing to do for your company, key is to be clear why you want one and what you will achieve by having it.

Consider this from both the societal and company perspective. In particular, what would you achieve by having a foundation that you could not do directly from within your company?

Setting up a foundation has many pros and cons which may make having one more or less attractive for you. Make sure you are clear on exactly what benefits your company will get and have also worked through how to avoid the downsides. 

If you consider setting up a foundation

Decide on the right structure for how it will work best and how you want it to relate to the founding company. Also get legal and tax advice on this. Once you are clear on the foundation’s remit, which may also give you an indication of how much money you need, then consider its governance, funding formula, staffing and links to the company - including how to involve both senior management and other employees.

As with any community involvement, always also look at how a foundation’s effectiveness can be measured, both regarding the support of individual projects and overall.

Remember! This is not an alternative to your company’s Corporate Responsibility  

Always consider the role of your foundation in the wider context of your company’s overall approach to its communities AND its overall corporate responsibility strategy.  Corporate Responsibility, Community Involvement and a foundation’s Corporate Giving - if you decide to have all of those three - should be part of one seamless whole! 

How to manage Disaster Relief on behalf of your business

Defining Disaster Relief: Money and/or services made available as a fast response to human suffering for individuals and communities that have experienced losses due to natural disasters or human-made catastrophes.

Prompt aid includes: humanitarian services; transportation; the provision of food, clothing, medicine, beds, and bedding; temporary shelter and housing; the furnishing of medical material and medical and technical personnel; and making repairs to essential services.

Disaster relief efforts are typically government-coordinated. Government efforts are supported by leading disaster relief organizations. Government statutes empower relief agencies to be “first on the ground” and take immediate action.

Disaster relief should be a cornerstone of any company’s Corporate Giving. When something terrible happens, especially in a community where you do business, your company must step up. You can do this in two ways:

1. Using your expertise to help:

In the case of an emergency, ask yourself where your company can provide support through its core competencies and that of its employees.

2. Donations to support relief efforts:

Other prompt aid may be needed to alleviate the suffering of disaster victims. Here you can make charitable contributions in support of disaster relief efforts.

When getting started, it is best to cooperate with well-known relief organizations with a good track record. These organizations may have subsidiaries in your country or can recommend one of their local partners. Where your business knows the local organizations very well, there may be more suitable regional partners to work with.

Stay the distance, make sure it counts:
In all cases, make sure your company’s involvement counts. Do not just hand over money and think your job is done. Even after the initial drama is over and the media has left town, how can you still help support work to return the society to normal? It may not be the most glamorous activity that you get engaged in, but it could be one that has the greatest, longest-lasting impact – for society and your business.   

See this chapter’s appendix for a step-by-step Disaster Relief process for your company to follow.