Taking Corporate Philanthropy Across the Pond

After mastering domestic workplace giving and volunteerism programs, our clients begin to imagine ways to extend their philanthropic reach. Naturally, one of the ways to expand their programs is internationally. However, our European counterparts take a slightly different approach to corporate citizenship.

In order to obtain a better understanding of the European viewpoint of corporate citizenship, I had a conversation with two UK-based consultants. The first of which uncovered a difference in terminology -Instead of philanthropy, the United Kingdom focuses on the terms community and social investment. Community investment teams at corporations focus on creating programs that meet a particular need at a non-profit organization as opposed to providing blanket donations.

Employee engagement also differs from traditional engagement programs here in the United States. European employers view all employees from a holistic standpoint and encourage social change at all levels. Skills-based volunteerism (SBV) is touted as one of the best ways to maximize social change and increase employee engagement. Domestically, CSR professionals understand the value of SBV but find it difficult to execute upon a formal plan.

However, despite a focus away from traditional methods of giving, official statistics provided from the United Kingdom Cabinet Office point to higher levels of giving and volunteerism:

The proportion of individuals participating in volunteerism at least once a year has increased from 65% in 2010-2011 to 71% in 2012. An uptick in giving was also recognized; 74% of individuals made donations in 2012, compared with 72% in 2010.

As CSR in the United States becomes more strategic, we will continue to look to our UK counterparts for insight into how to tailor our programs to ensure maximum impact in the United States and beyond.