Over the years, we have seen a shift in companies’ approaches to sustainability. They have gone from simple community engagement and philanthropic programs to integrated and targeted strategies that focus on creating long-term value for shareholders, society, and the environment as a whole. At the same time, we have also seen a transformation in the approach for corporate philanthropy that was once unconnected to the core business to now being clearly aligned with more broad sustainability initiatives as well as overall corporate strategy.
Nowadays, businesses can create more of an impact as they look to see how their initiatives contribute to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals which include gender equality as well as promoting healthy lives and well-being. A few ways, companies might look to approach this is by investing in more inclusion within the communities they conduct their business through more jobs, infrastructure, and technical capacity and expertise. They can also look to include more philanthropic dollars in this model. So, let’s take a look at how companies can further integrate sustainability initiatives with their corporate philanthropy model.
Find the Alignment
In some cases, sustainability and philanthropic actions become detached from one another. For example, if a philanthropic initiative is run through a corporate foundation, then that company might miss the opportunity to reinforce or complement any sustainability commitments through the philanthropic programs. Think about a heavy manufacturing and construction company. Even though an integral part of their sustainability strategy is reducing its environmental impact, none of their community investments or philanthropic programs relate to the environment. So, it is important for companies to find that link between their sustainability and philanthropic efforts.
Use Business Resources
As you begin to seek out more opportunities to align your strategies in sustainability and philanthropy, you will also reveal other chances to maximize your full value in regards to finances, products, technology, or even human capital. Roads and telecommunications infrastructure are investments that can help a company grow, but they can also provide benefits to the local community and further any philanthropic goals.
Focus on the Impact
As you begin to find the links between your sustainability and philanthropic efforts, you also want to look at the impact they are making. Measuring this impact can be a complex process as you shift from focusing on outputs referring to the activity completed or the extent of the activity to focusing on the outcomes with both short and long-term changes in the external world. By taking the outcome-based approach, you are able to set and track more ambitious goals. One of the most important factors in this development of corporate philanthropy is having a better understanding the social return on investment of a company’s philanthropic dollars and the value of those outcomes when it comes to the improved well-being of the community.