Don't (Just) Align Your Company’s Giving Program with Causes

Instead, align your company’s giving program with your company’s most vital goals. Back in the 90’s, I’d advise companies to align their giving programs according to the issues. I even wrote the How To book based on my work in this area and many Fast Company blogs, like this one. Examples of this alignment include: financial institutions affiliating with financial literacy. Information and telecommunications companies with coding. Food and beverage companies with healthy eating and fitness. All good.

Here’s another way that will give your company even more bang for its buck.

Consider your company’s top three priority goals for the foreseeable future. These goals might require the company to increase its workforce in certain locales, perhaps even just one or two cities. Or expand to new regions. The company will accelerate and help ensure its success in recruiting and retaining the best people by investing in strengthening communities. Employees and their families will be more likely to come and stay if there are good schools, healthcare, social services, safe cities, breathable air, and access to culture—musical, visual, and performing arts—and recreation, including parks.

If your company seeks to grow markets in emerging economies, your best approach to maximize strategic and financial success is to help build and strengthen local regions where employees and consumers live and work. This involves your active engagement and support for good schools, health services, infrastructure including water and sanitation, small enterprise development, and workforce education and training, just to name a few.

Additionally, your company very likely recognizes that by innovating solutions to global challenges—social, economic, and environmental—the company will grow shareholder value. And by advancing diversity and inclusion, the company will attract and retain the best employees, and also benefit from their contributions.

A new study provides evidence of an approach that works (but is often overlooked).

Many companies have become aware that effective community engagement is a driving force in attracting and retaining the best employees, and also growing new markets. There is one powerful approach, however, that has largely been overlooked: engaging and supporting the company’s employees in serving on nonprofit boards. Not many companies have focused much attention on effective nonprofit board training, matching, and support in order to build strong communities while also addressing vital challenges.

Six multinational corporations—American Express, Dow Chemical, HP, Johnson Controls, PIMCO, and Symantec—along with the World Environment Center, joined me in conducting a breakthrough study that measures and documents the value of nonprofit board service in growing shareholder value in three ways:

  1. Advancing diversity and inclusion.
  2. Developing human capital for innovation.
  3. Fostering economic development and achieving the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Yes, the evidence is clear and compelling. Based on the robust results of 957 surveys, a few dozen interviews, and big data trend analysis conducted by Datamaran, this new study shows that with a moderate investment in nonprofit board training, matching, and support, companies can accelerate progress towards their topmost priorities.

Companies might still want to give special attention to certain issues that are particularly relevant to the business, but the results of this study show that without supporting nonprofits where employees serve on boards, the company is losing out on an important opportunity. Companies that help ensure that board matches are good ones, and that their employees are well prepared and well supported will get the biggest bang for the company’s philanthropic bucks. This is how to leverage high impact employee engagement to achieve the company’s top priorities.

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