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The Case for Corporate Social Purpose and Community Investment

Businesses are reevaluating and strengthening their commitments to philanthropic issues.

The need for businesses to focus on corporate social responsibility has never been more urgent, and the case for doing so has never been stronger. The quadruple whammy of the COVID-19 pandemic, expanding income inequality, the racial justice movement and climate change are driving corporations, large and small, across the United States and abroad, to reevaluate and strengthen their commitments to addressing these issues.

Employees and consumers alike care deeply about businesses’ commitment to social purpose and community impact and are willing to adjust their employment preferences and purchases accordingly.

The data is clear:

Make an Impact

In addition to the holy grail of making cash donations to nonprofits, companies can increase financial support and opportunities for employee volunteerism; establish or increase a program to match employees’ donations; donate employees’ unique skills and services; contribute products and services; host internal drives for food, clothing, books, etc.; expand support for employee mental health care; provide education assistance for employees and their children; evaluate the impact of their own investments on climate change, racial justice and income inequality; and, of course, increase pay and health care benefits.

To be effective in making philanthropic decisions, businesses should develop an articulated plan that will:

  • Engage all internal stakeholders—from the C-suite to entry-level employees.
  • Consider the views of external stakeholders, including members of the communities it wishes to serve as well as neighbors, customers, nonprofits and shareholders.
  • Identify the reasons for giving—comprising a range including employee recruitment, retention and engagement; customer attraction and loyalty; and reputational risk management.
  • Align all of the company’s resources, including human and intellectual capital, products, skills and volunteerism, as well as financial capacity, toward philanthropic initiatives.
  • Develop a communication plan that incorporates genuine ways to tell the businesses’ philanthropic story.
  • Design and execute a strategy for impact, including analysis and planning around objectives, deliverables, outcomes and metrics.

In his 2021 letter to CEOs, BlackRock’s Chairman and CEO, Larry Fink, stated: “The more your company can show its purpose in delivering value to its customers, its employees, and its communities, the better able you will be to compete and deliver long-term, durable profits for shareholders.”

Bruce DeBoskey, J.D., is a philanthropic strategist working across the United States with The DeBoskey Group to help families, businesses, foundations, and family offices design and implement thoughtful philanthropic strategies and actionable plans. He is a frequent keynote speaker at conferences and workshops on philanthropy. Visit or @BDeBo


TAGS: Philanthropy
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