Chapter 6

Corporate Philanthropy: Making a Direct Contribution to a Cause

By offering their skills, time, financial support, and creativity to causes greater than themselves, generous corporate philanthropists strengthen our communities and enrich our lives.1

—President Barack Obama

At its core, corporate philanthropy involves a corporation making a direct contribution to a charity or cause, most often in the form of cash grants, donations, and/or in-kind services. In 2010, corporate giving by funding type broke down as 46 percent direct cash, 35 percent foundation cash, and 19 percent non-cash, according to a study of 184 corporations (including 63 of the Fortune 100 companies) by the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy.2

As recently as the 1980s, many companies equated making cash donations to hometown charities as sufficient to fulfill their social contract.3 The character of corporate philanthropy has changed, primarily in response to internal and external pressures to balance concerns for shareholder wealth with expectations to demonstrate responsibility for communities contributing to the corporation's livelihood.4 Perhaps the most consistent response has been to move to a more strategic approach to selecting social issues to support, with an increased tendency to choose an area of focus and to tie philanthropic activities to the company's business goals and objectives.

At the same time, corporate philanthropy has also trended in the direction of building more long-term ...

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