Corporate philanthropy scales up its impact.
Part Two of a two-part series.
By Pamela Hawley
There are numerous strategic benefits to international giving. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
Corporate giving abroad is now a level playing field. Because the cost is so low, anyone, at most any age, can become a donor. When I was growing up, people waited “until they were 50 to make it big.” That’s when they felt comfortable and started giving.
But we’re experiencing a new trend where even the 20-something set is giving early, not just the highest level executives or corporate foundations. Entry-level employees are setting aside a portion of their incomes to give to their favorite charities, and employees are passionate about giving back to their countries of origin.
A key trend is that managers are organizing volunteer trips as team building exercises. Before its annual President’s Club event, a large financial institution took 240 employees on a team building trip to Maui, where they helped four non-profit organizations with restoration and infrastructure projects. A grocery store chain sent staff to villages in Guatemala and Costa Rica that supply its bananas, and a large consulting firm offered financial advice to small businesses in Eastern Europe.
Individuals can now give $40 or $100, and not only make a difference but change a life. It can buy a cup of water, nutritious bowls of porridge and, in some cases, meals for an entire week. As a company it means your corporate philanthropy will be much more visible in a developing country. For very small sums of money, your company will gain prominence among country leaders, politicians, clients, employees and, of course, potential consumers of your product. For example, Yum! Brands, parent company of Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut, pledges to donate $80 million over the next few years, which will support hunger relief for 200 million schoolchildren in the developing world. It’s good, sincere image building, and it affects lives strategically.
So how can your corporate philanthropy have such an incredible impact? In many developing nations, the local people are earning only a few hundred dollars per year. GDP per capita in Haiti is $717. In Liberia, it’s $219. Giving abroad allows any employee to tangibly affect the quality of life – or even save a life – through a small, yet effective, donation. It’s thrilling to know everyone has the opportunity to give and that your company can facilitate this incredible momentum.
If we look at the influence of giving in the United States versus abroad, the margin for impact is much greater. In the US you can buy an entree at a restaurant for $15. In Myanmar or Venezuela, your $15 will feed a child for a month. The donation scales.
If we are going to continue to be courageous in giving abroad, let’s examine a more serious philanthropic investment. In the US if you want to buy a house, the median four-bedroom house is $363,401. In Guatemala a house can be built for $4,200. And in Uganda, it costs $2,700. For one house in the US, you can build approximately 86 houses in Guatemala or 134 houses in Uganda.
What if your company could provide hundreds of homes for people? As a corporate foundation, this is a super value proposition.
So whether you want to give $10, $100 or $10,000, your corporate foundation or employees’ donations will have a tremendous impact. It’s an investment in people’s lives beyond their day-to-day and in your business long term.
Meaning just can’t be underemphasized. To build a successful corporate entity, people have to believe their 12- and 14-hour corporate days mean something. And while their day-to-day work might not be in corporate foundation work for you, they still want to be associated with the good within your company.
International giving is a strategic imperative for all companies. At any time we can achieve scale and meaningful impact through giving on behalf of the company we work for. You can start today by giving through your corporate foundation, listening to your employees and encouraging scalable giving. You’ll have a business impact. And you’ll have another type of impact that affects someone for a lifetime.
About Pamela Hawley
Pamela Hawley is Founder and CEO of UniversalGiving, a Web-based marketplace that helps people give and volunteer with the top-performing, vetted projects all over the world. Her blog is Living and Giving.
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