Philanthropy in business is a slippery slope. When a business makes an attempt to give back, especially in a public forum, it’s almost guaranteed that there will be murmurings about the motive behind the deed. It makes you wonder, should businesses be concerned with the “why” behind their philanthropy?
Let’s address one important fact about philanthropy; no matter who the philanthropist is, philanthropy will reap benefits for both the giver and the recipient. The recipient will get help they need and the giver will receive notoriety, a tax write off, or even just a warm feeling inside. Even if a business is giving back with the purest of intentions, there will be some benefit for them. Long story short, speculations about “ulterior motives” are almost unavoidable.
With that in mind, it would be just as illogical for a business to ignore the fact that they will benefit as it would be to scrutinize a business for benefiting, so there really is no need to be overly concerned with the public’s opinion. If you donate to charity or make a major company move for public approval or for financial gain, so be it. This assumption will probably come anyway. As a respectable business, any donations given will be real and will still benefit the recipients. Those in need will appreciate the help no matter why the business decided to give it.
Of course, having a genuine motive will keep the business dedicated to the philanthropy and will encourage employees to engage. Seeing employees that truly care can do wonders for an company’s image-much more than any giant check can do. A good rule of thumb, even if you are only in it for the tax break, is to pick a philanthropic venture that aligns well with the values or purpose of your business. This shows that there was thought and purpose put in to the choice.
While it is safe to say the motive technically does not matter, there is a caveat; do not use philanthropy to cover wrongdoings. If your company is in hot water, donating to charity will not deflect from the real issue and will shine a spotlight on your lack of good intentions.
Giving back is a common practice in business. Whatever the motive, if the acts are real, everyone will come out on top.