Over 91 percent of businesses believe they are equally or better equipped than nonprofit organizations to deliver social change, according to a recent survey reported on by Chloe Stothart of Third Sector Online.
What makes these statistics even more shocking is that all of the 142 survey respondents were businesses with a Corporate Social Responsibility budget. Imagine what the statistics might look like if a more representative sample of the business community were surveyed.
While the survey was conducted in the United Kingdom by YouGovStone for the Social Investment Consultancy, it should strike fear into the hearts of all nonprofit organizations worldwide.
In the United States, corporate giving in 2010 totaled $15.29 billion, five percent of all giving, according to Giving USA 2011. While a comparatively small slice of the overall giving pie, corporate giving is nevertheless significant. And, for some nonprofit organizations, corporate giving plays an even greater role.
Here’s why the nonprofit sector should be alarmed by the survey findings:
- There’s no such thing as “corporate philanthropy.” For a detailed explanation of what I mean by this, read my blog post on the subject. In short, corporations exist to enhance shareholder value, not to engage in purely philanthropic activities. That doesn’t mean businesses don’t give away money. It just means that when a business does give money, it is looking to enhance the company’s value for its shareholders. So, when businesses talk about engaging in efforts for “social change,” they are talking about efforts that will benefit the business and not necessarily society in general. Also, the business community may be overestimating its ability to facilitate social change while underestimating the ability of the charity sector.
- The survey results reveal an underlying mistrust of the nonprofit sector. The business community seems to have the attitude, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” As long as this lack of confidence in the nonprofit sector exists, we can expect corporate giving will not realize its full potential. All donors, whether corporate, individual or foundation, want to know that their funds will be wisely and efficiently used.
Jake Hayman, chief executive of the Social Investment Consultancy, believes the survey is reflective of the attitudes held by the broader corporate community. He said that businesses were becoming far more interested in doing good through their own efforts rather than by donating to charity. Hayman says,
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