Your company has most likely developed a strong mission or vision statement of what sets your organization apart from others and establishes expectations for the future of your business. This statement will portray a sense of values and ethics that customers, investors, and employees can expect of your organization. But while you may know by heart the words your organization stands on, how do these words translate into action?
Even as advanced technology has changed the marketplace to grow into a global showroom, people want to interact with brands that they know and trust. This trust comes from interaction that occurs outside of the salesroom or websites your customers want to engage and support the brands that align with their values and are well-known in their communities. One of the easiest ways to develop connections and garner trust is to consider philanthropic strategies that align with the constituents you most want to engage.
You can find evidence that giving matters to business success by simply looking at the country's top giving corporations. In 2011, the top 10 cash giving businesses gave more than $2 billion to charitable causes. Topping the list is the heavy hitters of U.S. corporations; Walmart Stores ($342 million), Goldman Sachs Group ($337 million), ExxonMobil Corp. ($232 million), Wells Fargo & Co. ($213 million) and Chevron Corp. ($208 million).
The results of philanthropy are beyond calculation because there is an incredible amount of value that comes from investing in your community. Whether you invest in arts, education, infrastructure, or social services, there are countless opportunities for your business to gain visibility. These actions also perfectly position your organization as a trusted and community-invested business.
For example, investing in education is directly impacting access to training, knowledge, and skill development that will shape tomorrow's business. The value of investing in higher education has been so widely recognized that in 2010-11 donations to colleges and universities nationwide totaled $30.3 billion.
In business terms, higher education continues to yield a high return on investment for students. One review by the Brookings Institution estimates a college degree can yield more than a 15 percent return for students.
Sincere philanthropy will reverberate much further than funding an organization or cause that you choose to support; the investment will also reflect the core of your business value. Philanthropy by nature cultivates relationships in the community that will not only strengthen how your company operates, but it will also help develop a foundation of strong relations amongst your community as a whole.
Additional financial benefits such as tax deductions for donating to a non-profit organization and educational deductions for establishing scholarship funds for your own employees provide added incentives for businesses.
Whether your business pursues philanthropic projects in arts, education, infrastructure, or social services, invest your efforts in areas that align with your mission and passion. After all, giving is about spreading the word about a cause, promoting action from your community, and connecting with the people who will ultimately help spread a positive image of your organization.