The line between corporate philanthropy and sponsorship continues to blur. According to a recent BusinessWeek article on corporate philanthropy, companies that give back gain competitive advantage—primarily as a motivational tool for employees. Cisco’s giving has grown from $65 million in 2005 to $128 million in 2009. Similarly, SAP has begun using philanthropy to reward and incentivize its user group with a “We’ll make a donation in your name” strategy, as opposed to monetary prizes. This tactic has changed the user group culture from cut-throat to collaborative.
The often-overlooked benefit of corporate philanthropy is the opportunity to use a slice of profits to contribute to a broader culture of innovation. Sponsoring the world it envisions is something Microsoft always delivers on, and it has humanized the brand considerably.
Which corporate foundations are the most generous? Check out Bloomberg BusinessWeek.com and the Foundation Center’s slide show featuring the Most Philanthropic Companies.