Foundation fund

How to Lay the Foundation for Corporate Philanthropy in the Workplace

Are you ready to step up your company’s philanthropic efforts? There are a few signs that this might be the right time: you have the money, you’ve identified a need, and it aligns with your company’s mission. Benefits? Beyond the feel-good vibes, there are many other positive and meaningful benefits to engaging in corporate philanthropy.


Before you launch your foundation, identify your “why” – the reason that drives you to undertake a specific philanthropic action. It will serve as a North Star to keep you focused and minimize distractions for your donations over the years. There are many valid motivations behind establishing a corporate foundation:

• You want to have an impact. When you’re passionate about making a difference, it’s natural to support industry nonprofits and share the wealth. Whether you want to support your industry or local organizations fiscally, your company’s generosity can strengthen your connection to the industry you serve. It helps demonstrate that you are investing in more than just making a profit.

• Employees want it. More and more, employees want to work in a place that makes a difference in the world. They want to feel a sense of belonging and to be part of something bigger than themselves. In reality, according to a Fidelity Investments survey of 1,200 American workers, “66% of respondents said they felt it was important for businesses to be philanthropic and support different causes. Among millennials, it was 75%.

• It’s important to your customers. Clients want to see companies standing up for something and support important causes. They place an increased emphasis on corporate responsibility – and a foundation is a great way to demonstrate the issues that matter most to your business and industry.

• It benefits your bottom line. Companies can tax benefit to direct money towards philanthropic activities. Additionally, a corporate foundation maintains a clear delineation between foundation-related expenses and donations separate from corporate finances. With a formal structure in place, funding decisions can be justified to stakeholders and corporate charitable activities become more predictable and strategic.


When first defining your giving mission, think about exactly what you want to accomplish with your resources. Decide if you want the foundation to focus on local causes in your city or state or if you want to have an impact on a national or global level. A clear core mission aligned with your company’s mission can help you define your giving goals.

Next, complete a cohesive strategic plan, then set and share your goals. When discussing your foundation, highlight the social impact you have with your donations. Better yet, use these highlights to draw attention to your mission.

Increase the impact of your foundation by engaging employees and other company stakeholders who want to give back. A great way to align with your supplier partners is to collaborate in a meaningful way that benefits your common industry. After all, a well-chosen mission will not only naturally align with the interests and passions of your employees, but also with those in the industry who share your conscious capitalist values. Donations made by employees, or the creation of competitions to match donations between vendors, have been effective strategies for amplifying donations.

Tax and legal professionals will be needed to set up the fine details of the foundation and will require a commitment to remain transparent about your goals, funding and actions. Working with community foundations is a great way to not only get the help you might need to start a foundation, but also to support local businesses.


Foundations are a great way to support your company’s values ​​through philanthropic giving, but they’re not the only way to give. If you’re looking for an alternative, consider a few of these other great options. A word of warning: Whatever philanthropic structure you choose to set up, spend time familiarizing yourself with all relevant laws and regulations.

1. Donor Advised Funds: Make a donation through donor-advised funds comes with fewer regulations, no board requirements, and fewer compliance and disbursement rules. Third-party entities, such as local community foundations or large financial institutions, can help you operate as a donor-advised fund rather than a private foundation. One downside, however, is that you will be somewhat limited as to who you can donate and how you can donate.

2. Supporting Organizations: According theirs, “a supporting organization is a charity that achieves its exempt purposes by supporting other exempt organizations” (eg, other public charities). “A supporting organization generally justifies public charitable status because it has a relationship with its supported organization sufficient to ensure that the supported organization effectively oversees or pays particular attention to the operations of the supporting organization. “

3. Lobbying: Lobbying is another way to have a meaningful impact in your community. Many organizations have turned to creating their own political action committees to specifically advocate on issues affecting their business or industry. By becoming an advocate for your industry, you can make a difference to impact many stakeholders, including your customers. Strategic planning must be used to make this path impactful and it does not always provide short term gains. However, you can create constructive change by speaking out and amplifying the voices of those who don’t have a similar platform.


Finally, it is essential to define the elevator pitch of your foundation. You can already explain what your business does and the value it brings to others in a well-presented explanation. Now you will also have to do this for your philanthropic efforts. When discussing your foundation, clearly highlight the social impact you can and do have. Better yet, use this conversation to draw attention to your company’s mission.

My final piece of advice is this: Build something you believe in. Focus your efforts on making a difference in this area. You can’t be everything to everyone. Take everything you learn as a leader and use it to uplift others through charitable giving. Profit can be used as power for good. Empower your business to take its mission to the next level with a strategic charitable giving plan.

Dr. Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC, is the co-founder and clinical director of WebPTthe leading software solution for rehabilitation therapists.