Benefits of Long-Term Giving Programs – Primer

Jun 10, 2014 3:00 PM ET

JK Group Blog

Corporate/Employee Giving, as well as the overall Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR has been around for quite some time now, and has morphed over the years to where progressive corporations of all sizes, in all sectors, see these endeavors as a competitive differentiators on many fronts as they actively nurture and manage successful continuous “giving” programs for social impact.

When this notion first started, large corporations (typically Fortune 500 companies) saw it as a way to give back to society, serve the community they were based in and as “the right thing to do”. Whatever the drivers, corporate giving back then was done without any expectations other than to give or serve.

At first, many of these programs were passive or sporadic engagements such as charitable donations a few times each year – well-received but with few spillover long-term benefits. Then, as word started to spread on the halo effects of giving programs, progressive organizations restructured their philanthropic initiatives as sustainable, track-able and measurable programs for greater corporate and societal benefit… and the field of corporate giving evolved.

As we have now reached greater heights within our collective programs, independent studies have found that the benefits of a solid CSR initiative far outweigh the costs, and spread beyond the payback-to-society to significant tangible advantages. For example, research firm Cone Communications’ 2013 Social Impact Study found that 90% of Americans are more likely to trust and be loyal to companies that back causes. And research by CareerBuilder found that nearly three-in-four candidates for jobs would accept less than their lowest target salary for a company with a favorable brand. So the benefits of CSR flow directly to the top-line and the bottom-line.

Studies also found that companies that correctly implemented continuous giving programs saw higher revenues; greater customer loyalty; higher employee satisfaction, engagement and productivity; better employee retention and lower employee turnover; significantly better customer service and satisfaction; and improved profitability. In addition, shares of public companies received a boost when they implemented long-term giving programs.

While consumers today are indisputably influenced by a corporation’s social giving initiatives, corporate B2B clients also ask for and factor-in CSR programs when awarding contracts… so CSR now has a direct impact on customer wins and revenue.

For maximum payback, CSR programs engage employees at every stage – from picking the various forms of giving (cash donations, in-kind products and services, volunteering) to screening which charities are eligible for tax-exempt donations, which communities and causes employees most “connect” with, to funds disbursement, program management, analysis, tracking and feedback.

Companies’ CEOs, Board of Directors and shareholders believe giving programs are a vital component of good corporate strategy and competitive positioning. This is evident in the enrollment in recent enrollments associates to large membership organizations such as CECP – Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy and ACCP. Additionally, CSR programs have evolved to where they can be implemented with clear methodologies to deliver more to society, and to the company and all its stakeholders – customers, employees, partners and shareholders – in a safe and effective manner.

Yet, many CSR programs are managed and administered in-house, in ways that often miss-out on the art and complexity of running successful giving programs, and on the tangible benefits they deliver. The Federal Trade Commission, for example, warns donor corporations to be vigilant against fraud such as charities that exist only on paper or collect money for illegal or non-sanctioned causes; such non-vetted giving is wasteful, can severely damage a company’s reputation and have legal, tax, financial and other ramifications. For maximum impact and to better manage risk, companies must consider hiring or consulting dedicated CSR experts (learn more about the importance of compliant giving programs).

With effective social responsibility programs now a major factor in corporate success, JK Group’s complimentary white paper – “Managing a Successful Long-Term Giving Program” provides useful advice on developing and maintaining successful ongoing giving programs.

Coming up next: Five Tips on Setting-Up a Successful Long-Term Giving Program