Increasing Impact, Enhancing Value: A Practitioner’s Guide to Leading Corporate Philanthropy

By Chris Pinney et al

Arlington, VA (April 29, 2012)- This guide lays out an ambitious agenda to redefine the purpose and value of corporate foundations and giving programs so that they can meet the challenges of corporate citizen- ship. Economic uncertainty around the globe demands greater commitment, adaptability, and courage on the part of corporations and their foundations and giving programs. This guide seeks to engage the corporate philanthropy community in discussion so that it can continue to increase its impact as a significant contributor to society and enhance its value to the companies they represent.

To start our work, we conducted research to better understand the changing role of business in society and society’s increased expectation for corporate responsibility and leadership in addressing social problems. Against this backdrop, we then explored the latest in management thinking on ways businesses can effectively respond to these expectations. We looked especially at the innovations of leading companies in rethinking the role of their corporate foundations and corporate giving programs.

What emerged was a picture of a corporate philanthropy field that is increasingly bifurcated and in limbo, looking for direction and leadership. There continues to be tension between those who believe philanthropy should be strictly about “charity” and separate from the business and those who think it should be integrated with the business to create value for the business and society. Companies are struggling to understand where they should fall along that spectrum-and why-as well as what is the appropriate role of a corporate foundation.

This guide aims to break through this divide by reframing the role of corporate philanthropy around the central premise of creating the most value for society. It proposes an “invest- ment portfolio” approach to corporate philanthropy management in which philanthropy becomes not only an expression of corporate values but an important instrument for value creation. It calls for companies to apply to corporate philanthropy the same strategic prin- ciples the company uses in value creation, alignment, and integration.

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Increasing Impact, Enhancing Value: A Practitioner’s Guide to Leading Corporate Philanthropy