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Getting Started with Corporate Giving & Corporate Social Responsibility

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The holiday season is a time for giving and sharing. And with most consumers paying close attention to how companies engage with the world, corporate philanthropy and corporate social responsibility (CSR) is no longer a nice-to-have – it’s a business imperative. Luckily, giving back is a phenomenal way for companies to share a bit about what makes their employees tick, humanize themselves in the eyes of their customers, and, in a statistically significant way, build trust and loyalty and expand their customer base.

Sitting at the right hand of leadership, admins are frequently tasked with brainstorming and strategizing organizational giving ideas. So where do you begin? What are your ways forward?

CSR vs. Corporate Giving/Philanthropy

CSR deals with financial corporate donations AND other issues that impact your consumers, the environment, society, sustainability and transparency. There’s recognition that your business processes have greater reach and impact than simply your company and therefore commit to being part of a response to broader societal issues – social, environmental, economical, etc. Usually CSR becomes a part of the organizational mission, or corporate goals.

Corporate philanthropy (giving) is narrower and more limited in scope. It mainly involves donations to charitable, non-profit groups (by the company and possibly also its employees individually). The company may conduct fundraising efforts with matching incentives or donation drives.

Create a Path to the Right Org with the Right Impact
For corporate giving or CSR to make sense, you first have to find out what issues matter to your consumers, and which of those issues overlap with your employees’ passions. Connecting your employee passions to your customers is key for maximum engagement. Dig around, collect data, and have your employees (or at least a representative committee) vote!

Choosing and Vetting A Charity
Whatever your passion, with so many different causes in need, finding the right outlet for your holiday giving can feel overwhelming. There are a number of reputable resources to help narrow down your company’s choices once a list has been pulled together. Charity Navigator is an organization that evaluates charities and rates them based on how efficiently and effectively they use their money. The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance also issues detailed reports on various charity finances. Network For Good can help you to find opportunities to donate online and track those charitable donations for tax purposes. You can also always call the IRS (877-829-5500) to verify the group’s tax-exempt status. Lastly, don’t forget that your colleagues can be a great place to start, but you’ll still have some work ahead of you. You’ll need to vet their preferred charities against your company’s mission to make sure there’s an appropriate match, and you’ll need to check against company conflict of interest policies if colleagues are in leadership or governance positions with the proposed charities.

CSR and corporate giving can make a huge difference in the lives of others and give employees an extra dose of holiday warmth, all while having real business benefits to your company, AND providing a way for you to extend your role as a business partner to your boss(es). Dive right in, the water’s warm! 

About the Author:
Heidi Souerwine is the Conference and Content Manager for ASAP, the APC, and EA Summit. Prior to moving to joining the ASAP team, she spent 15 years in Washington, DC managing events from 10 – 10,000 attendees for international membership associations, non-profits, and the federal government. Heidi is passionate about needs-based program development, purposeful event design, and cultivating active community and attendee engagement.

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