Corporate Giving: Executives Aren't Just Writing Checks Anymore

Charitable giving is up, but executives aren't just throwing money at causes anymore. They're focusing on engaging their employees in volunteerism, a new study reveals.

To find out how companies foster corporate social responsibility, a global survey conducted by Forbes Insights and HP asked about 300 executives about their giving strategies. A whopping 72 percent said that they primarily make donations to charities that will allow their employees to volunteer.

"Corporate social responsibility isn't just about writing checks anymore," Patricia Devereux, group head of Corporate Philanthropy & Citizenship at MasterCard worldwide, told the survey's authors, "it's making important ties with what is going on in your community."

While service projects help companies connect with their communities, they also make for better employees, the study concluded. Allowing workers to pursue their passions and support causes they care about, helps increase employee loyalty. Such hands-on experience has also been found to improve creativity in product and market development.

"The belief in the effectiveness of volunteerism is a common denominator among companies of all sizes and regions of the world," the study’s authors wrote.

MasterCard is one such company surveyed that is urging employees to give back on the ground.

The company offers its workers a chance to participate in an eight-month leadership program in Colombia with the Grameen Foundation, a nonprofit that uses microfinance and mobile technology to lift people out of poverty. Employees often visit classrooms to give advice on how to run a business and offers one-on-one coaching and mentoring to aspiring young entrepreneurs.

"The commitment from senior management is strong, our employees worldwide are increasing their volunteer hours, and all of us can see firsthand the impact we are having in our communities," Devereux said.

To make sure that their employees are giving to deserving causes, more than 75 percent surveyed said they've amplified their vetting process and 78 percent are going so far as to track volunteer hours and the impact they are having.

"Companies don’t want merely to give," the study concluded, "they want to give effectively."