Businesses, whether recent startups or established corporate giants, are no longer the faceless entities they used to be. In an age of information, where skepticism is the norm and data about companies can be uncovered with a little digging, companies are now placed under increased pressure to both be transparent and give back to others.
The culture of corporate philanthropy is very much at odds with the desires of investors, with their heavy emphasis on the bottom line and improving profits. However, any business can take steps to improve its corporate philanthropy programs and make an impact in an effectual way that does not detract from their financial interests. I’d like to take the time to talk about some companies that are doing philanthropy right.
Despite an ill-fated commercial that many criticized as trivializing activist movements, Pepsi has a number of philanthropic initiatives that have hit the mark when it comes to social change. The company has embraced the trend of donation matching its employees, matching even higher if the employee in question is a frequent volunteer. Their list of causes are tailored to their organization, including sustainable agriculture and access to food and water.
Some of their projects have aimed to directly improve communities, such as Mother Water Cellar, aimed at bringing water purification and storage systems to residents of rural areas. At home, Pepsi spearheads the Food For Good Initiative, a program that serves free meals to inner city children.
Proof that philanthropic projects can go beyond directly giving to disadvantaged groups, The Nerdery software company addressed a need for better web resources among nonprofits. The Overnight Website Challenge is a 24-hour event in which volunteering web developers work to remake a lackluster nonprofit website—and there are many in existence.
Oftentimes, due to limited resources, nonprofits are not able to dedicate their time and funds to setting up a good website. The Nerdery helps alleviate these concerns, giving organizations a vehicle with which to best deliver their message.
Bill Gates is no stranger to philanthropy, falling behind only Warren Buffet in terms of charitable spending. With this in mind, it is unsurprising that Microsoft has also promoted giving back. The company has come a long way since 1983, when employees raised $17,000 for nonprofit organizations. Since then, it has donated over $1 billion, in part because of their gift matching program with employees.
In addition to distributing funds, Microsoft seeks to improve the technological capabilities of nonprofits by donating computers to worthy organizations. These gifts span 125 countries and are tailored to an organization’s needs with the intent of modernizing their programs.
Reed Construction Data
Part of an effective corporate philanthropy program is leveraging a business’s unique talents and capabilities to make a difference. Nobody understands this more than Reed Construction Data, who, in addition to more traditional charitable giving, takes time every year for an event called a “blitz build.” During this time, a collection of volunteering construction professionals work to renovate a shelter or nonprofit facility in a deserving community.
The company takes particular pride in working to give veterans the means to land on their feet. Recent projects have centered around helped veterans as well as those displaced by the recent series of hurricanes.