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Corporate giving in Ireland


Thelma Harris

Strategy & Engagement Manager, Philanthropy Ireland

Companies throughout Ireland are giving to great causes, and making a real difference to Irish society.

As giving in Ireland evolves, companies must adapt to the new environment. Key to effective giving, and successful approaches to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) will be the measuring and the communcaiton of impact corporate giving programmes are having on the issues they seek to address.

Should companies give?

In 1970 Milton Friedman famously declared the sole social responsibility of a business as being to increase its profits and serve its shareholders. Since the publication of The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits debate continued to focus on whether or not corporates should or need to participate in CSR activities. Almost fifty years on, there is a new interpretation of the social responsibilities of corporates, and it is being led by customer expectations and public pressures.

Customer Expectations

Today, there is a public expectation that companies should contribute positively to society and the communities to which they belong. A 2009 poll by Waggener Edstrom found that 60% of consumers believe that businesses are in the best position to create positive results on social issues.This expectation from customers is resulting in more companies embracing corporate giving. As a result, companies want to be seen to be socially responsible, and as champions of social issues, providing solutions to the main challenges we as a society.

New Trends for corporate giving

In Ireland, the landscape of corporate giving is changing. As companies develop their CSR strategies, new methods of community outreach and corporate giving have evolved. Strategic volunteering and the sharing of employee skills with not for profits have become the norm. These new forms of giving allow companies to fulfill the expectations of the public, and give employees an opportunity to give back. And there is real value in companies exploring these trends, both for the the causes they are supporting, and their staff.

Return on Investment

There are many types and models of giving available to companies in Ireland today. There is no one size fits all when it comes to corporate giving. Instead companies should do what works best for them, all the while being focused on creating and measuring the impact these gifts are having. We are at a stage where giving by corporates must be matched with effective communication of the social return on investment these gifts are achieving. Firms should now work to differentiate themselves from their peers by increasing the impact they are having and act as champions for social change.

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