Cliff Oswick explores corporate giving and considers the potential impact upon workplace morale and employee engagement
Fifty shades of giving
"Far too often we associate giving with giving cash"
Avariciousness or altruism?
Thinking outside the (charity) box
Far too often we associate giving with giving cash. And, more specifically, we think about giving money to charities. Kurt Hoffman, former director of the Institute for Philanthropy, suggests: “Money is the least valuable social change asset.” Donating skills and expertise and utilising company resources can often be far more effective than cash donations. Caroline Fiennes, author of It Ain’t What You Give, It’s The Way That You Give It, offers the examples of TNT, who got aid to communities affected by the South Asian Tsunami far faster than any NGOs, and how Coca-Cola used trucks and its logistics network to distribute condoms and educational leaflets to remote villages in Africa to combat the spread of HIV and AIDS. These are illustrations of the power of non-financial forms of support. They are also illustrations of how people in need can be helped directly rather than through charities as giving intermediaries. Directly helping deserving causes can have a galvanising effect upon organisational stakeholders, because seeing the direct impact upon recipients’ lives creates a sense of collective purpose, meaningfulness and community.
In conclusion, companies should reflect upon how and why they engage in philanthropic activity. In particular, they might ask if they are doing it for the right reasons, seek to encourage and embrace employ-led initiatives, and try to leverage non-financial forms of giving.
Cliff Oswick is a Professor in Organisation Theory at Cass Business School, City, University of London
Professor in Organisation Theory at Cass Business School, City, University of London
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