Giving Back: How Every Firm Can Make a Difference with Corporate Philanthropy

Small business practicing corporate philanthropy

Whether your firm is already involved in corporate philanthropy or just starting out, it’s always a great time to give back. Not only do consumers think highly of brands that practice philanthropy and sustainability, but employees also want to work for those companies.

In fact, a company’s social and environmental commitments are a deciding factor for 64% of millennials when choosing a workplace. And another 64% wouldn’t take a job at a company that didn’t have strong corporate social responsibility values. Since millennials are predicted to make up half the workforce by 2020, this is especially significant.

Practicing corporate philanthropy can strengthen your employer brand and help engage and retain employees. And, of course, you have the satisfaction of knowing that you’re doing the right thing. But how to begin? Let’s take a look at a few philanthropy ideas for companies.

Giving time = giving back

Some firms have taken big strides to encourage a culture of philanthropy. For instance, Microsoft offers dollar-for-dollar donation matching up to $15,000, and ExxonMobil offers 3:1 matching for higher-education donations up to $22,500. Salesforce even gives employees seven days of paid VTO (volunteer time off) each year toward the cause of their choosing.

But what if you don’t have the resources of corporate giants? Well, there are still plenty of low-cost, impactful ways to exercise your giving-back instinct. We’ve all heard the saying “time is money,” and your company’s time is a very valuable gift.

Identify causes you and your employees are passionate about

To determine how to spend this precious resource, consider your company values, as well as the causes you and your employees are passionate about.

For instance, according to the ASPCA, approximately 6.5 million pets enter animal shelters in the US each year.  So there is no shortage of opportunities to make a difference at your local animal shelter.

If your firm is interested in the environment, look into sustainable or green organizations. Or you could take a day or two out of the workweek to help build houses for low-income families if poverty reduction is a major motivator.

Donate goods and services rather than cash

If your company has limited resources, why not give goods or services instead of monetary donations? There are many organizations that accept household items such as clothing, toiletries, canned food, school supplies and toys.

Some other philanthropy ideas for companies include donating services on behalf of the company or of individual employees. This may include creating marketing materials, doing pro-bono consulting or helping a charity build its website — all of which have the added benefit of allowing employees to hone their skills by putting them to use.

Recognize the great givers among your employees

These are just a few examples of corporate philanthropy. Not only will your team be contributing to a great cause, they’re also sure to find the experience rewarding. Volunteering together helps foster camaraderie and teamwork between employees. And you’ll get the added benefit of building strong ties to the community and its members.

Businesses of any size can instill in their employees a desire to give back. This can be done by rewarding participation in corporate philanthropy — whether through public recognition, in the form of a “volunteer of the month” initiative or through a more competitive angle, such as a prize for the team that volunteers most.


Not only does corporate philanthropy benefit the community, it benefits your company by building your brand and strengthening employee morale and camaraderie.

And if you want to get really creative, you can also start philanthropic traditions, such as choosing a different charity to focus on each year or during the holiday season.

Regardless of company size, make sure your philanthropic efforts authentically align with your company’s values and beliefs.  And above all, enjoy the time spent creating community within your organization and beyond!

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