The Keys to Rethinking Corporate Philanthropy

Harvard Business School



Case Study Sector


Many companies conduct their charitable activities without a cohesive philanthropic strategy. As a result, companies often not only fail to achieve significant impact on society through their philanthropy, but also miss opportunities to achieve strategic benefits for the organization. Draws on research into a number of companies' experiences to describe four types of corporate philanthropy: Some companies focus primarily on the needs of stakeholders, such as communities in or near where the firm operates, conducting philanthropic initiatives that are often unrelated to their core business competencies ("peripheral philanthropy"). Other companies focus more on using the corporation's unique skills and competencies than on important stakeholder needs and, as a result, may end up with an internally focused approach ("constricted philanthropy"). In other cases, often those involving corporate donations, corporate charitable activities are conducted without much overarching coordination at all ("dispersed philanthropy"). Argues that the most effective approach to corporate philanthropy is one that incorporates both the needs of external stakeholders and the skills of the donor corporation ("strategic philanthropy").



  • Strategy


  • Northern America

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October 3, 2018

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