Social Responsibility

Can Corporations Integrate Philanthropy in Their Business Models?

In an age where large companies are always under the spotlight, solely focusing on profits is no longer viable. Outside of their business ventures, entities are now also held to extremely high standards when it comes to involvement with the community. Those who attempt to ignore that responsibility will often deal with public scrutiny that can lead to a drop in success. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, corporations accounted for almost $20 billion in charitable contributions during 2017. 

The problem, however, is that the overall contributions during that year were over $410 billion. Thus, incorporated entities were only responsible for about 5% of the entire amount that was given in the United States. Considering that they earn most of the nation’s business income, it is quite surprising to see them rank toward the bottom of the list when it comes to charity. So, are there ways that organizations can implement philanthropy into their regular operations? 

Social-Responsibility

Philanthropy Explained

Before answering the question and diving into additional strategies, it is crucial to establish what corporate philanthropy is. Contrary to popular opinion, it does not only consist of giving money away; this is just the most common way that most entities go about getting involved. According to the basic definition, philanthropy is the desire and intention to improve the welfare of others without expecting anything in return. So, it is not surprising that monetary donations are one of the best examples here. Nonetheless, philanthropy could also include volunteering services, public promotions of important events in the community, advocating for social issues, and similar. 

The Challenge

Although community involvement certainly sounds like one of the essential elements of business, many challenges come with it. The most difficult one is the fact that getting involved with the community requires resources that a lot of entities do not possess. For instance, some companies may not have the capacity to spend a lot of time researching and participating in local events. Others could be too low in income to make financial donations. Fortunately, some alternatives can help overcome such issues. 

The Verdict

Regardless of how challenging it may be, there are always ways to implement community involvement and philanthropic ventures into the business model. As demonstrated by Melvin Brewing, which is a brewing company from Wyoming, even some of the busiest start-ups can give back by basing their missions and values around the customer and the local market. After getting started in 2009, this privately held entity simultaneously expanded both their community involvement and corporate reach. One of the things that allowed them to do this was the forward-thinking approach based on placing their workers and the community before the company itself. Then, by developing an award-winning beer that facilitated outstanding revenues, owner Jeremy Tofte wasted no time to re-invest the profits back into the business and the market itself. 

Promoting Other Organizations and Events

Besides writing blank checks, companies can also make a difference by fostering other ventures and events. Melvin Brewing, for instance, achieved this through their on-going engagement with other brands, including: 

  • Helping Teton Freedom Riders reach financial goals.
  • Sponsoring Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club.
  • Partnering with the Chill Foundation to promote youth development.
  • Co-hosting an event with Water For People and donating the proceeds.

While the list goes on, these are some of the most significant examples of how corporations can handle their philanthropy in a very engaging, fun, and creative manner. 

Pairing Social Responsibility With Philanthropic Ventures

One of the critical factors that play a role in successful philanthropic endeavors is social responsibility. Even though the two terms are frequently used interchangeably, they are not the same. Unlike philanthropy, social responsibility has very little to do with donating. Instead, it is a set of civil duties and expectations that the company must meet as an entity that has a powerful platform. Advocating against social injustices would be a great example because, even though it may not include enormous donations, it can perpetuate significant change that creates better living conditions. 

The most efficient way to tackle these types of duties is on the front end. In other words, entrepreneurs should start their businesses with preexisting ideas about raising awareness for social justice. Then, after growing a little, they should scale up their reach and try to help more and more people. As shown by Melvin Brewing, doing so could eventually lead to countless partnerships that help a wide range of causes.

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