What Can Individual Donors Learn From Corporate Philanthropy?
The economic pressure has made it harder to write checks, says Taurel, the emeritus chairman for Eli Lilly, but companies are seeking other ways to contribute. For Eli Lilly, part of that is bringing personalized medicine to 170,000 patients at no cost. For individual donors, this could mean offering pro bono services — such as accounting or IT know-how — to charities you care about. Or teaming up with friends to pool resources and raise money.
All three executives agreed philanthropy — or, more specifically, corporate social responsibility — is no longer an option for successful businesses. The reasons: Today’s prospective employees (read: younger folks) want the company they work for to stand for something more than just the bottom line.
In competing for young talent, Gold notes that prospective employees do their homework on companies. “It really is: What is your brand? What do you stand for?” she says. “They’re looking for companies they want to be associated with.”
Case said more than half of 70 CEOs recently surveyed said employees are the primary motivation for their philanthropy.
Philanthropy also boosts business. Eli Lilly’s efforts help expose their products — medicines — to more markets. Case noted that companies with a strong philanthropic identity attract more customers these days. He pointed to 1% for the Planet, which we blogged about previously, as an example of a successful model. Member companies adorn logos on their merchandise alerting consumers that 1% of the sale will go toward an approved environmental nonprofit.
There is “no question” such strategies help draw business, Case says. “particularly [among] this emerging millennial generation.”
Overall, our roundtable said that corporations are trying to hold the line on giving amid the brutal economic downturn, though Gold conceded some won’t be able (Western Union’s giving is holding steady for now, she said).