What Is Strategic Philanthropy?

23 May 2023

what is strategic philanthropy
Philanthropy is a great way for companies to build meaningful
legacies that they will be remembered by. It allows them to create a positive association between their brand and a particular cause in the minds of their audience.

But what is strategic philanthropy?

Giving strategically combines marketing and charity, allowing your money to be used for good causes while creating positive PR for your brand. 

Philanthropy entails donating money, resources, or time towards a particular cause or goal. On the other hand, strategic philanthropy is an analytical, goal-oriented approach that allows corporations to give to organizations and causes they care about while receiving tax benefits and generating good press for their donations.

Let’s learn more about strategic philanthropy and why it’s so beneficial!

What Is Strategic Philanthropy? How Is It Different From Traditional Philanthropy?

Traditional philanthropy entails giving to a particular cause without a specific plan or strategy. Meanwhile, strategic philanthropy identifies specific business goals and objectives which are then used as the basis for philanthropy. This allows businesses to maximize the impact of their donations while ensuring that they are directing their support toward sustainable and effective organizations that are capable of optimizing their resources.

In traditional philanthropy, donations are made to charities, typically in the form of monetary contributions which is where the donor’s involvement ends. In contrast, strategic philanthropy requires due diligence that involves analyzing and planning how resources can be optimized to create a more impactful change.

A company that practices strategic philanthropy ensures that its contributions provide positive branding. For example, the Rockefellers have a legacy of funding national parks while the Carnegie family is usually associated with public libraries. 

Strategic philanthropy can sometimes create a long-term association between a company and the organization it chooses to help, making the former a recognized continuing sponsor.

What Are the Main Types of Philanthropy?

Charity and philanthropy — be it in the form of financial donations, volunteer work, or providing resources to an organization — are done for several reasons. Typically, philanthropy has three main objectives which determine the type of philanthropy being practiced. 

Social Reform Philanthropy

Social reform philanthropy addresses prevalent social issues, such as racism, poverty, inequality, etc. It aims to reform society and bring about positive change to ensure that civil rights, women’s equality, labor rights, and other important social issues are addressed. This is achieved with the help of rehabilitation centers, subsidized or free education, job opportunities, and more. 

Social reform philanthropy typically caters to organizations that work to uplift, aid, or provide assistance to members of society who are at a disadvantage due to a hardship or precarious situation. For example, victims of domestic abuse can be admitted into a rehabilitation center while poverty-stricken groups may be given access to resources and tuition at subsidized rates. Rehabilitation centers for members of marginalized communities, or facilities for immigrants looking for a new life also qualify as social reform organizations.

Generally, supporting any organization working to bring about social change can fall under the “social reform philanthropy” category.

Improvement Philanthropy

In the book Understanding Philanthropy, the writers describe philanthropy as having two truths that reveal the human condition: “things often go wrong, and things could always be better.”

With this in mind, improvement philosophy ensures that the required work is done so that things can be better than they originally were. This includes improvement in all spheres of society — educational, infrastructure, legal, environmental, social, etc. Organizations that make improvements in these sectors usually host these activities:

  • Improving existing curricula by making them more accessible
  • Offering affordable housing to those who need it
  • Ensuring that public spaces are accessible for people with disabilities
  • Providing support and rehabilitation to veterans, individuals with substance abuse disorders, etc. to improve their situations
  • Building community centers, organizing enrichment programs, etc.
  • Offering legal aid to people fighting injustice
  • Environmental programs such as drives to collect recyclable materials
  • Educating people about upcycling items to reduce waste
  • Encouraging composting and proper disposal techniques
  • Conservation drives to increase awareness

Relief Philanthropy

Though similar to the previous two types of philanthropies, relief philanthropy is specifically designed to provide aid to those most in need. Some examples are survivors of natural disasters, victims of poverty and domestic abuse, and immigrants who require urgent relief and care.

Relief philanthropy entails providing the most marginalized groups in society:

  • Clothing and food
  • Housing and shelter
  • Legal aid for prosecution or visas
  • Relief assistance in areas that have experienced natural disasters

Depending on your company’s main goals, you can focus your strategic philanthropy on any of these areas and select organizations you wish to help accordingly.

What Are Strategic Philanthropy’s Fundamental Concerns?

When it comes to building a solid strategy for effective philanthropic endeavors, it is important for a company to consider:

  • Whom to donate to based on their field of work
  • How to donate (direct donations, matching the donations of employees, and other donation schemes)
  • How much to donate
  • The organization’s efficiency in ensuring that the donation provides maximum benefits

These fundamental concerns must be addressed for strategic philanthropy to be successful. 

Why Philanthropic Collaboration With IMANA Is Good for Your Company

Developing a habit of helping others is invaluable. Apart from improving public perception, it allows your company to be more aware of the plight of others and gives you an opportunity to be part of something more meaningful. 

When you choose to partner with other organizations in your philanthropic efforts, your resources can leave a larger footprint. This is why many groups have chosen to collaborate with IMANA for their strategic philanthropy. As a medical association, we are involved in raising awareness about various health matters, providing healthcare access to marginalized groups, and providing relief to areas that have been besieged by natural calamities. 

When you partner with us for your strategic philanthropy, you stand to benefit from our reputation, expertise, and established networks. This helps guarantee that your resources will truly make a difference to those who need them most.

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