Many large companies are known for giving back to their communities. For example, Microsoft employees help the global fight against human trafficking and also support global diversity and inclusion initiatives, environmental sustainability and responsible sourcing. IBM employees help out with education and economic development and skill development. There are many more examples out there, too. Below you will find ten examples of what some of the top companies are doing to give back. Hopefully, they will inspire you perhaps they might even help your community (e.g., your local school can fund a new program by turning in cereal box tops from General Mills)
A key question is do these philanthropic efforts of these companies have a positive effect on their profits or sales? There have been studies done concluding that corporate philanthropy does indeed have a positive effect on profits, but only when the company does a lot of advertising. To explore this further in an attempt to better answer this question we look at the philanthropic efforts of 10 major companies below.
Microsoft and Social Inclusion
Microsoft is interested in helping end human trafficking, as well as global diversity and responsible sourcing. A lot of their philanthropic contributions have to do with inclusion, however.
The company realizes that for society as a whole to achieve more, each individual needs to do more, so they invest their strongest assets to encourage more inclusion and empower those who don’t have access to technology and the opportunities that it provides.
Microsoft is constantly looking for new ways to encourage more people to achieve bigger goals. The company made 93.6 billion dollars in 2015.
IBM and Education
IBM helps out in many different areas, such as education, economic development, and skill development. They also contribute to scientific research by providing excess processing power from individual computers into the World Community Grid, a computing system that collects data from other computers and mobile devices to attempt to solve the world’s problems.
IBM has used voice-recognition technology to create its Reading Companion program which helps children and adults to learn to read using virtual books, and provides feedback as students read the books through a microphone connected to their computer.
Tej Kohli & Corneal Blindness
Tej Kohli of Kohli Ventures is a philanthropic entrepreneur from India who uses a large part of his company profits to improve healthcare in deprived areas of rural India. His clinics work to combat corneal blindness via prevention programs and treatment centers.
Hasbro Toys & Autistic Children
Hasbro Toys is a highly profitable company that focuses much of their philanthropic efforts towards helping autistic children. Hasbro’s Toybox Tools program has been developed with input from The Autism Project. The program provides visual tools such as countdown timers and playmats that help to make playtime productive, and keep children with autism better engaged in activities.
Pacific Gas & Electric and the Environment
PG&E works to preserve the sites of historic gas plant sites, sometimes transforming disused power stations to other uses. PG&E’s commitment to the environment includes thoroughly evaluating sites to protect vital resources throughout their service area (from Humboldt County all the way down the Pacific Coast to Santa Barbara).
The company uses best practices both in science and the environment as well as integrating stakeholder input and outreach to ensure they are impacting communities in a meaningful way.
Intel Corp & School Science
Intel Corp has created a matching grant program which gives money to nonprofit organizations so employees can spend time on service projects. The company sponsors a high school science competition called Intel Science Talent Search and the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair – which is the world’s largest science competition. Intel encourages teachers to integrate technology into their lessons with the Intel Teach Program.
Air Products and Chemicals Inc. & Youth Projects
Air Products and Chemicals Inc. created a matching grants program to support education and cultural arts. Their employees volunteer in public schools, community parks, and learning centers to help people succeed in different areas of their lives – they help at-risk youths finish high school, and they also help students get excited about science.
Eli Lilly & Hunger and Disease
Eli Lilly generates roughly $20 Billion in annual revenue . The company donates money to many charitable projects aimed at reducing disease and hunger. The company also delivers value to communities all over the world by making better medicines. The medicines they make treat a variety of conditions, such as diabetes and pulmonary hypertension. Eli Lilly realizes how valuable its employees are, and the company promotes its charitable efforts in a way that encourages employees to participate..
General Mills & Food Education
General Mills gave more than $150 million each fiscal year in 2013, 2014, and 2015 to local nonprofit organizations. Their philanthropic efforts focus on increasing food security throughout the world, advancing agricultural sustainability, and protecting the natural resources that people depend on for their food. They also help support public schools through their Box Tops for Education program, where people can send in box tops from certain General Mills products and earn 10 cents for their school for each box top they send in.
Accenture and Entrepreneurship
Accenture contributed around $220 million to support their corporate citizenship efforts. These efforts include creating a program called “Skills to Succeed,” which helps people acquire the skills they need to get a job or start a new business.
Is There a Connection?
Do any of these companies do a lot of advertising? Yes of course, most of them do a fair amount – we see commercials on TV for General Mills products, we get coupons in the mail and our newspapers for General Mills products, as well as for Eli Lilly products. We also see advertisements for products from IBM and Microsoft, and the other companies advertise in different ways.
So can philanthropy in business drive profits? While studies suggest there is a correlation between corporate philanthropy and the profitability of a company, it would be difficult to know if the companies were profitable because of their philanthropy or because of their other efforts like execution, production, advertising, etc. Philanthropic efforts should positively impact the way that customers and even employees perceive a company and may make them more likely to buy its products.
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