Corporate foundations are shifting from mere altruism to a more strategic hands-on approach

A recent global study by Corporate Citizenship provides insights on corporate foundations and why they are shifting from mere altruism to a more strategic, hands-on approach.

While companies worldwide are increasingly integrating their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes into their operations, corporate foundations continue to be a popular vehicle for corporate giving.

In the report, “Corporate foundations: A global perspective”, released in March, the UK-headquartered firm noted that the nature of corporate foundations are changing and many are moving away from traditional grant giving to a more focused and hands-on approach.

While there is no global definition for a corporate foundation, the firm in their report defined it as a non-profit body that has been established and primarily funded by a company for the purposes of social and community investment.

The firm’s co-founding director Amanda Jordan said the continued popularity of corporate foundations “might be surprising to some” as the trend is to integrate community investment and corporate responsibility more generally into mainstream business.

But keeping social work away from the main operations of a company, though funded by it, is how a corporate foundation works, explained Victoria Hartley, associate director of Corporate Citizenship.

“It is our belief that rather than compromise the independence of the foundation, if developed and nurtured correctly, the relationship with the business should add value

CapitaLand Hope Foundation (CHF), the philanthropic arm of Singapore-listed real estate firm CapitaLand, is one example of a foundation with a strategic relationship with its founding firm.

While CHF is an independent charity focused on the needs of underprivileged children, it is still influenced by CapitaLand, and vice-versa. The company provides the foundation with 0.5 per cent of its annual net profits every year, such as the over S$4 million it donated in 2012. The company also allows employees to serve as volunteers.