Timberland, the outdoors outfitter gives more than $1 million a year to a youth-corps nonprofit. In an increasingly competitive global economy, companies looking for an edge increasingly are recognizing that philanthropy can boost the bottom line, experts say.
Long gone are the days when corporate giving mainly reflected the pet causes of the CEO. Instead, corporations recognize that good corporate citizenship can improve the chances of attracting and retaining employees, customers, investors and partners.
Companies that align their giving with their business focus can be more effective in both, says Charles Moore, executive director of the Committee to Encourage Corporate Philanthropy.
U.S. corporations gave $12 billion to charity in 2004, or nearly 5 percent of all charitable giving, according to Giving USA 2005, an annual report of the Giving USA Foundation.
They also are working to integrate their philanthropy into their overall corporate social responsibility initiatives that can range from ethics, transparency and governance to human rights, environmental issues, health and safety, and employee rights, DaSilva says.
And as U.S. companies extend their global reach, they are expanding their global giving, says Sophia Muirhead, senior research associate at The Conference Board.
"As more and more companies do business globally, they are taking their American notion of philanthropy with them to the global stage," she says.
International issues also represent a big challenge for corporate givers. "It's incumbent on the philanthropic community, including corporate grantmakers, to get together and figure out how we're going to address this," she says.
[From an article by Todd Chen, Philanthropy Journal]