Our senior consultant, Lindsay Firestone, recently distributed a thoughtful article entitled “Recession Driving Changes in Corporate Philanthropy” by Joshua Kucera in US News and World Report spotlighting our corporate partners in the philanthropy field. The examples pulled from the industry showcase a variety of pro bono models done well, from Deloitte’s team-based approach to Gap’s coaching and mentoring of nonprofit staff members through the company’s executive management courses.
Be sure to check it out, or browse through a few quotes from the article that stuck with me:
“But volunteerism is also increasingly in the zeitgeist, and companies that want to attract the best recruits are trying to incorporate that into their corporate culture.”
Has volunteering really become something cool and attractive? As Evan Hochberg of Deloitte mentions, the new generation of professionals “defines philanthropy by action, not cash.” It’s important to note that to harness this talent and enthusiasm requires more than just a slapdash, one-off efforts; it takes an internal cultural shift and a commitment to a regular engagement in public service.
“Now that ‘corporate social responsibility’ has matured from a buzzword to standard business practice, it’s becoming more common to think of philanthropy and business not as two separate things, but things that are mutually reinforcing.”
When Taproot Foundation began in 2001, the pro bono model was strikingly innovative. It’s surprising and encouraging to learn the idea is now a “standard.” But there still is plenty of work to be done as corporations thoughtfully consider what issues to tackle and learn to scale and measure their programs for maximum impact.
“But defenders of this form of philanthropy say that, as self-serving as it might be, it’s better than the old approach, which too often was just writing checks with no strategy.”
The pro bono and other corporate philanthropy models still need to be perfected. As the article mentions, there will be questions surrounding the genuine intentions and conflicts of interest for corporations. These are issues that need to be addressed, but until and if they are resolved, the fact remains that the developing pro bono movement is creating real, strategic, and effective social change. And even as the models for creating social impact continue to be refined, it’s a step in the right direction.
Image by afagen via Flickr