Motivate November 2017

Corporate Investments In Community Benefit Community, Employees and Companies

Written By: Debbie Mason

Corporations often have a philanthropic giving effort that invests financial resources to improve the communities in which its offices and plants are based. For private companies, the areas of investments are usually driven by the founder and/or her or his family members that work in the corporation. And, investment is the right word because corporate philanthropy and supported volunteerism are creating great outcomes for communities, employees and the sponsor companies.

Some of the largest privately held and public corporate efforts also include priorities of their workforce, by creating employee surveys to measure employee interests. Public companies may develop their philanthropic investing through the lens of senior executives and board members first, with a check point effort to balance business interests with corporate values and American’s ever-evolving societal mores.

Many companies create philanthropic investment through a separate foundation, while using the corporate marketing and social responsibility budgets to align more closely with business interests.

Corporate philanthropy is an important part of the nonprofit economic engine, as well as good business strategy. Workplace giving campaigns, such as United Way still account for the biggest share of corporate philanthropy, providing employees with a payroll deduction option. And, employees report increased satisfaction when working for companies that provide giving vehicles.

Increasingly companies of all sizes are providing a matching gift program for employees – matching individual employee giving to universities and nonprofits outside of workplace giving. In 2015, 65 percent of large companies matched employee gifts, while only 28 percent of small to mid-size companies matched.

Volunteerism is another path for corporations to invest in communities. According to an American Charities 2015 Snapshot report, the most common way companies engage in volunteerism is through company-sponsored volunteer projects where employees can work hand in hand with their internal peers, as well as peers from other companies. Over the past decade, company support for paid time off volunteerism in schools and nonprofits has dramatically increased. The same Snapshot reported that 60% of companies responding to the survey provide paid time off during the workweek. An addition 21% of respondents indicated they were working on a plan to provide this within the next two years.

Corporate philanthropy is known to have a positive effect on employee engagement and morale, which ties to keeping talented employees happy and connected with their employer organizations.

As important is the benefit that corporate philanthropy and volunteerism has on building brands and consumer loyalty. A landmark study by Edelman Public Relations periodically measures the public’s interest in corporate brands and the consumer’s response to corporate social responsibility efforts. The study continues to show year after year that increasingly consumers are voting with their wallets. As of 2012, 72% of consumers were turning to companies that support good causes over those that don’t. That same study showed that 73% of consumers would switch brands if a different brand of similar quality supported a good cause. Every year that percentage of consumer strength tied to corporate brands grows, as clearly many consumers are taking note of corporate behaviors.

The America’s Charities 2015 Snapshot reports:

  • Company-sponsored volunteer projects and projects that encourage employees to team with their peers are the most common components of a company’s volunteer strategies (71.43%).
  • Nearly 60% of companies offer paid time off for employees to volunteer, and an additional 21% plan to offer release time in the next two years.
  • 82% of the survey respondents say employees want the opportunity to volunteer with peers in a corporate-supported event.

Employees who volunteer report that they feel better emotionally, mentally and physically, which can lead to reduced costs of health benefits, as well.

And, companies are increasingly realizing that placing employees on nonprofit boards, or encouraging employees to find those placements where they can contribute their business skills to a nonprofit can be a very effective way to develop additional skill sets and leadership.

Corporate giving of dollars and time will continue to grow in the coming decade. Even smaller businesses are becoming aligned with the practice. If your organization doesn’t have a workplace philanthropy and volunteer programs, maybe it is time to evaluate how to put those in place. The benefits extend both internally and externally.

The Effects of Giving and Volunteerism

  • Americans gave $389.05 billion in 2016. This reflects a 4.2% increase from 2015.
  • Corporate giving in 2016 increased to $18.55 billion – a 3.5% increase from 2015.
  • Foundation giving in 2016 increased to $58.28 billion – a 3.5% increase from 2015.

Volunteering (Individuals)

  • Approximately 63 million Americans — 25 percent of the adult population — volunteer their time, talents, and energy to making a difference.
  • The 2016 national value of volunteer time is $24.14 per hour. In other words, Americans contribute $193 billion of their time to our communities.
  • The top four national volunteer activities are food collection or distribution (24.2%), fundraising or selling items to raise money (23.9%), general labor or transportation (18.8%), and tutoring or teaching (17.9%).
  • The top four volunteer areas are for religious (34.1%), educational (26%), social service (14.9%), and health (7.3%) organizations.



DEBBIE MASON, is a business strategist and organizational consultant who works with The Work of Leaders®, DiSC®, Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™, and other assessments used in coaching leaders and organizations to greater performance.

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