The Unique Nature of Corporate Giving

[To learn more about the WG’s Corporate Affinity Group, or if you are a current member with a question, e-mail Katy Moore, Member Services Manager, Washington Grantmakers.]

Corporate givers have to worry about balancing their philanthropic goals with their efforts to build a brand. Earlier this month, Washington Grantmakers’ Corporate Affinity Group explored that tension in a panel discussion featuring Sonia McCormick from PNC Bank, Jeannan Peterson from Bank of America, and Emily Talley from Capital One.

“Strategic Philanthropy: Balancing the Need to Build a Brand”

(l to r) Sonia McCormick, PNC Bank; Emily Rothberg, Deloitte; Denise Keyes, Fleishman-Hillard and WG Board Member; Emily Talley, Capital One; Jeannan Peterson, Bank of America, at the Corporate Affinity Group Luncheon, Thursday, March 1, 2007, hosted by WG member PNC Bank.

Participants learned that Bank of America has fully separated its marketing and branding efforts from its philanthropy budgets. PNC Bank, with giving metrics tied to brand goals, is moving forward its community outreach work with a plan that includes marketing and sponsorship dollars. Other groups continue to explore different models to fit their corporate structures and to adapt to new developments. Both PNC and Capital One have made recent acquisitions, which can require a review of internal structure as well as a needs assessment of a new community.

Other topics of discussion included: the confusing array of mechanisms by which nonprofits receive their funding; the potential for greater collaboration between the corporate and nonprofit sectors; unique opportunities and resources corporatations can offer to nonprofits; the role of corporate philanthropy in promoting greater efficiency within the nonprofit sector (i.e., merger grants); nonprofits’ difficulties with fundraising; and the need to help nonprofits reduce their administrative costs.

Bank of America has eased reporting requirements for its grantees by putting no restrictions on most of its grants. “Unrestricted money is the best thing you can do for nonprofits,” said Peterson. “Find the best organizations to invest in. Trust that they know their business best, as we know ours, and then let them go and do what they do best.”

Members who attended the meeting on March 1:

· Freddie Mac
· Deloitte
· Capital One
· Bank of America
· Guest Services, Inc.
· Hitachi
· Strategic Philanthropy Advisors
· Fleishman-Hillard

Corporate Members: Watch for an announcement of the next Affinity Group meeting in our bi-weekly enewsletter, The Update.