In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we share an article entitled “Corporate Philanthropy: Breakthrough or Buzzwords?” by our board member, Ruth Bramson. After a long corporate career, Ruth has recently joined Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts as their CEO. In this article, Ruth explores the positive relationship between philanthropy and both customer and employee engagement. In addition, she offers suggestions for how corporations can get involved in philanthropy in ways that align their corporate vision and values (and results) with the organizations they support.
If you’re interested in a different viewpoint on this issue, a recent Harvard Business Review article, “Doing Well by Doing Good? Don’t Count on It” , presents research that indicates that corporations that demonstrate their social responsibility via cash contributions to charities show a stronger correlation with success than those that have socially responsible corporate policies or community projects. The authors weren’t sure what came first – deeper pockets or a predisposition to philanthropic giving. In either case, they conclude that for many organizations, doing good may need to be its own reward.
Our discussions as a group and our personal observations lead us to come down on Ruth’s side on this issue. Employees are proud to be associated with an organization that is contributing to the community (see this earlier post about a philanthropic event at Kronos). We believe that organizations that incorporate social responsibility into their mission are the kinds of places that people like to work and customers like to buy from.
Just yesterday, I read “How Starbucks Saved My Life” by Michael Gates Gill. This small book about life, expectations and finding dignity through work makes some powerful points about how Starbucks’ focus on corporate responsibility engages its Partners (workers) and suppliers to create a superior customer experience, and as a result has droves of loyal consumers.
Who are some of your favorite socially conscious organizations?