November 16, 2022
President, T. Rowe Price Foundation and T. Rowe Price Charitable
SVP of Philanthropy, Salesforce, COO, Salesforce Foundation
Senior Program Officer, The Citi Foundation
Vice President, PayPal Giving
Senior Vice President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has taken on increased importance as humanitarian and environmental crises continue to emerge. Consumers increasingly look to corporations to use their vast resources to “do good” in the world, leading many large companies to set up dedicated corporate giving initiatives and departments.
During the 2022 Business Solves Corporate Citizenship Conference and Awards, Marc DeCourcey of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation led a panel discussion with four leaders in corporate philanthropy to explore the present and future of corporate giving and the various approaches companies are taking to achieve an impact.
Effective Corporate Philanthropy Is Often Baked Into the Company’s ‘DNA’
Each panelist’s company has its own unique approach to corporate philanthropy. However, “we're all doing the work,” said Philip Fitzgerald, Senior Program Officer at The Citi Foundation.
Becky Ferguson, SVP of Philanthropy at Salesforce and COO of the Salesforce Foundation, said Salesforce “really set out to build a company where giving back was part of the DNA of the company.”
“[We thought] about community as a key stakeholder from the very beginning,” she said.
To achieve this, Salesforce built a model of integrated philanthropy that considers the different assets it has and how it can give those back in a meaningful way, Ferguson added.
Corporations Must Be Strategic About How They Serve Their Communities
John Brothers, President, T. Rowe Price Foundation and T. Rowe Price Charitable, said T. Rowe used to have a “confetti” approach to philanthropy before its current trust-based philanthropy model.
“We would kind of spread [our charitable dollars] far and wide,” said Brothers. “And that's fine, except our firm was saying, ‘Well, we want to have a deeper impact in the community,’ not necessarily knowing what that word ‘impact’ meant.”
When he stepped into his current role with T. Rowe, Brothers said used his prior experience as a grassroots community organizer to have in-depth conversations with the people his company was serving.
“What we heard was not the challenges of community, but … [also] the challenges of the ways in which folks that wanted to work in the community,” he said. “What they were saying is how a business solves is as important as a business solving.”
Large Businesses Can Activate Resources and Reach to Do More Good
As one of the largest banks in the world, Citi’s philanthropic goal is “promoting economic opportunity and supporting impact for communities across the globe” with its tremendous resources, said Fitzgerald.
“Through our three pillars, which are youth economic opportunities, financial inclusion, and community solutions … [we pursue] trust-based philanthropy, [which] is the key of a lot of our work,” he added.
Similarly, PayPal uses its wide reach and fundraising platform to empower others to do good in their own communities.
“One of our social impact goals is to increase and diversify giving,” said Oktay Dogramaci, Vice President of PayPal Giving. “Our giving platform is really the most tangible way that we demonstrate that through our business. In 2021, we drove around $20 billion to non-profits around the world from 56 million active donors.”
The Impact of Corporate Giving Is Amplified When Donors Have a Say
While corporations can accomplish a lot with their resources, the impact is more deeply felt when donors can help decide where their money is going.
“We have a huge capacity-building program,” said Brothers, referring to T. Rowe’s 6,000 community partners. “For us … it's [about] being able to say, ‘Here are the things that we have that matches exactly what you're looking for.’”
“When it comes to giving, our approach is not to pick a handful of specific organizations to support,” added Dogramaci. “We want to help our customers to support their favorite causes. That really ties back to our overarching goal to increase giving, because we know the best way to do that is to help donors support what they care about.”
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