“Capitalism, if applied creatively, holds the potential to transform the complex socio-economic and environmental challenges facing the world today.”

-Ryan Scott, founder of Causecast

I would agree with Ryan Scott that any given business plan has the potential for positive social impact. Too often such possibilities remain overlooked, but when aligned with business objectives, the outcome can be synergistic. Collaborative corporate philanthropy begins with creativity and the necessary ambition to connect with both management and employees to identify what you have in common. In fact, every nonprofit can increase its share of corporate revenue.

How? Let’s begin with:

1. Stronger individual relationships;

2. Clearly defined business value;

3. Collaborative programs for long-term engagement.

Where to start? As with any fundraising program, the individual is what matters.

1. Identify individual employees and use your Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) system to keep track of them. Understand employees’

• Work at the company and what gets rewarded;

• The type of charities they care about;

• How they like to be involved with charitable work;

• Communication preferences;

• Skills they might be willing to share;

• Other passions and interests.

Ultimately you want to identify the shared values between your nonprofit’s mission and the individual employee. A nonprofit must define for the employee why their cause is important. Don’t make them guess.

Consider a crowd-sourcing campaign for gauging employee sentiments. Offer up a few different outreach ideas for employee involvement through an online platform, and ask for their input. Then circle back with the company’s leadership and share the results. With information about employee preferences and interests, a nonprofit can help management define its social mission and a relevant engagement plan.

2. Connect individuals to your nonprofit’s story

“The success of your (nonprofit) will be in direct proportion to the emotional impact you have on your (donors).The emotional impact on your (donors) will be in direct proportion to the social impact of your purpose. The social impact of your purpose will be in direct proportion to the success of your (nonprofit).”

-Simon Mainwaring, We First

By telling your story I don’t mean bragging about how good you are, but rather share how your work has made an impact. Use concise messaging. If you tell your story well, then these individuals will tell others, and this is exactly the type of behavior you want to enable. After all, a compelling message is easy to repeat.

3. Identify business value.  Although employees might feel passionate about helping your organization, they also want to understand how the social impact creates business value. In other words, how will supporting your cause expand a company’s “brand equity”? There needs to be alignment between a company’s mission, its products, services and core competencies with your nonprofit’s mission.

By “brand equity” I mean promoting the social values of a company’s brand.

A corporate philanthropic campaign will connect the dots between profit and purpose for the employees as well as a company’s customers.

For example, let’s look at Hilton Hotels Worldwide. Their philanthropic goal is to “strengthen communities.” Drawing from a well-defined business offering, its social giving mission aligns as follows:


Hilton’s philanthropic work concurrently ties closely to its social mission:


The bottom line is that employees want to work at a company that cares. In addition to increased consumer awareness, companies build equity by retaining employees who feel connected to the brand and are proud of its philanthropic work.

Business value is improved through employee engagement and collaborative philanthropic programs. This is a “Can Do” for both the company and nonprofit. Identify your corporate philanthropy partner. The rewards will justify your effort.

Amy S. Quinn is a published author and freelance writer focused on innovation in the nonprofit sector. For more resources, visit her blog.