Integrated Philanthropy: An Incredible Opportunity to Make the World and Your Company Better

December 20, 2017

The concept of integrated philanthropy as a function of business may be new to many, but it’s rapidly becoming embedded into the core of many emerging technology and consumer product leaders.

Some of the world’s best-known enterprises have built philanthropic activities into the heart of their cultures and brands.

Companies are increasingly turning their focuses beyond solely profits and shareholder returns. Visionary companies and business leaders now care about culture and corporate social responsibility. And candidates and customers alike are seeking companies that care about investing in making the world better.

Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson found the “B Team” to catalyze a better way of doing business, that priorities the well-being of people and the planet.

“In the past we’ve left it up to government and the social sector to try to achieve a lot of this,” Branson said in 2016. “But (now) let’s use our entrepreneurial skills to adopt at least one problem in the world. I think if we can get every business in the world to do that, most of the problems in this world will be solved."

Branson started Virgin Unite to unite people and entrepreneurial ideas, in order to create opportunities for a better world and embed philanthropy in his organization.

Marc Benioff pioneered the 1-1-1 model at Salesforce when he founded the company in 1999. He wanted to build a different kind of company that not only delivered tremendous shareholder returns, but also truly made the world a better place, by encouraging and empowering the philanthropic efforts of the Salesforce Ohana (Hawaiian for family: that includes the Salesforce employee community and ecosystem).

It was during my time working with Benioff and the Salesforce leadership team that I truly felt and comprehended the power and value of integrating philanthropy from the beginning.

Salesforce employees feel more connected to the company and communities than those at other companies do. In turn, customers and partners feel a strong bond to the company. Benioff inspired many tech leaders, including Google, to follow in his footsteps, leading to the creation of Now more than 2,000 companies have joined that pledge.

We founded G2 Crowd with a focus on creating transparency to improve the business community and help B2B buyers make better decisions.

This emphasis has created a culture dedicated to helping the B2B consumer masses find the best fit for their business needs. Helping is one of our core concepts, and an integrated philanthropy model fits well with our work.

We’ve named our program G2 Gives.

Our team talks about our philanthropic work as "win-win-win" opportunities. This is when customer, business and philanthropic organizations alike can all benefit from an initiative. Our goal is not the famed "corporate halo" — rather, we believe that our philanthropic efforts can be a core function of our daily work.

The perks of integrated philanthropy begin with business benefits. But the intangible, divine energy these programs amplify within the workplace is amazing.

It’s unfortunate that these benefits are not measurable, because the boost to team morale and enthusiasm is visible and enormously valuable. And we see this positive, spiritual energy flow into other parts of the company as well. It’s infectious and the impact is always positive.

Currently, we are working on an initiative with New Story Charity to build a new community of homes in Haiti for 80 families, still homeless from the 2010 earthquake.

The concept is very simple. For every review that we receive as part of this campaign, we donate $10 to New Story. Thanks to New Story’s unique model, 100 percent of those proceeds are going toward local labor building $6,000 homes.

The response we have received as more and more people learn about this initiative has been phenomenal. We are finding that this charitable donation motivates business professionals to write a product or service review in a way that a gift card simply does not.

At a recent conference we found that our review booth was consistently the last to clear out at the end of the day. Time and again we were told by attendees that this was one of the few opportunities they had that week to do good, and so it could not be missed.

These people were motivated by the spiritual investment, rather than new swag or a gift card. In the end, this four-day conference resulted in raising funds to build five homes for well-deserving families in Haiti.

More importantly, it reminded thousands that the Haitian people continue to struggle and need our assistance. It also proved that, with a little creativity and effort, a business can integrate philanthropy into its core function and help to reinvest into our world.

As we make our way through the holiday season and your company’s corporate giving campaign is underway, I urge you to take a moment and ask yourself how you can do the same, and ultimately, make a better world.