What Businesses Want Out of Giving Back

By | Small Business

community-relationsAs we look ahead to the trends in corporate philanthropy, there’s food for CSR thought in the 2014 Trend Report from The Association of Corporate Contributions Professionals (ACCP).  This annual report distinguishes itself by offering forward-looking data collected by surveying corporate contribution professionals about their plans, including their budgets, for the upcoming year.

The headline takeaway is that corporate philanthropy remained relatively static in ‘14, which isn’t terribly surprising when you consider that Corporate America is still recovering from the recession.  But a developing trend is that companies want more bang from their giving buck these days, looking for greater returns on the limited dollars they do have to donate.  Why?  Because more companies are leveraging philanthropy to solve business problems, which means they have elevated expectations for their charitable efforts.

I consider this a good thing.  The less that companies silo corporate philanthropy as a nice-thing-to-do-if-you’re-in-the-mood and instead prioritize it as an essential component of their business mission and bottom line, the more investment we’ll see in this area.  And following greater investment will be greater returns, especially if companies invest smartly in tools like employee volunteer and giving programs.

Which brings me to another takeaway from this trend report: an increased emphasis on greater stakeholder engagement, such as employee engagement.  Companies looking for bigger ROI from their corporate philanthropy are well served to include employees in these efforts.  Doing so increases employee engagement and generates Improved community relations and bottom line impact from their volunteer and giving efforts.

Given this, perhaps another trend shouldn’t come as a surprise: most corporate contributions professionals now work in departments focused mainly on corporate contributions efforts.  That means that companies are properly valuing the role of corporate contributions as part of their overall business functions, deserving of a discrete place within the company.  Another good thing.  When executives managing corporate philanthropy initiatives aren’t pulled in multiple directions with other roles, their efforts are bound to be more successful.

Other highlights from the report include:

  • 19% of companies plan to increase corporate contributions staff, while 77% plan to maintain

current staffing levels.

  • Cash giving is expected to see a slight decline while non-financial resources such as product

donations and volunteer efforts are increasing.

  • Increasing exposure in new markets has become a more prevalent driver than in the past, seeing an 8% increase over 2013 data.
  • Maintaining and increasing an emphasis on measurement is a strong focus which is reflected by 90% of companies surveyed.

A final trend that caught my eye is the uptick in companies planning to support disaster relief.  Being prepared to step up to global emergencies is so important for businesses – and yet so many are caught flat-footed when disaster strikes.  A late and hesitant response to major disasters can undermine the goodwill that companies have built with their communities, customers and employees, and it can end up being a disaster for their brand.

Read more about why rapid disaster response is important and how your company can act quickly when it counts.

This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: What Businesses Want Out of Giving Back

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