Generosity comes easily in prosperous times, when business is booming and optimism is running high. But when companies experience economic setbacks, corporate giving programs often face increased scrutiny from internal forces.

As unfortunate as that mindset is, public relations and corporate giving professionals must remain realistic about varying viewpoints on corporate philanthropy in their company. Giving is one of the fundamental elements of a sound corporate social responsibility program, but not everyone has a clear understanding of the tremendous value of these programs.

Particularly during difficult times, giving professionals should anticipate some internal pushback about philanthropic initiatives and be prepared to demonstrate a well designed strategic giving program. Here are seven principles for corporate giving that bring the rigor of business to the passion of philanthropy and help answer the inevitable questions, “Why should we give and what do we get in return?”

  • To help improve communities where the company has business interests. This leads to better places for employees and customers to live and work, greater license to operate from community leaders and influencers, and greater support from key influencers in times of need.
  • To engage and excite employees. In return, your company will have a more desirable work environment influenced by a giving-minded corporate culture, a stronger sense by employees that the company’s values align with their own, and an opportunity to develop new skills and leadership abilities.
  • To attract quality talent. Giving companies will be viewed as an employer of choice, particularly by young professionals who tend to have a deep commitment to community service and who seek employers who give them opportunities for community engagement.
  • To leverage the company’s core competencies. Giving creates new ways of utilizing the company’s business assets, and creates opportunities for innovative thinking about the company’s natural strengths outside the confines of the corporate structure.
  • To create opportunities for dialogue with groups on all sides of an issue. Giving creates a common ground with non-governmental organizations and community-based organizations, provides additional insights about expectations others have for the company, and generates new ideas about ways the company can effect positive change.
  • To partner with nonprofits in establishing fresh strategies for addressing a cause affecting the company or its industry. Giving increases the effectiveness for both the nonprofits and the company gained through collaboration, and creates greater business rigor, accountability and potential impact on the issue.
  • To bring the company’s core values to life. Giving generates greater appreciation by external stakeholders for the company’s responsible approach to business, ongoing positive recognition in traditional and social media outlets, and allows the company to be viewed as better or best in class relative to peers.

A well designed corporate giving program meets important societal needs but can also generate meaningful returns to the organization and give it a true competitive advantage. Using these seven principles, public relations professionals can be ready to champion the business benefits of a strategic giving program internally whenever the opportunity arises to help ensure philanthropy budgets remain secure and, more importantly, that corporate giving can be seen as the powerful catalyst for organizational improvement it was meant to be.

Have you helped get a giving program off the ground? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below, or tweet us using the hashtag #mcgblog.

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