philanthropy benefits a business by enhancing its reputation, does it do anything to benefit employees? Yes, according to four researchers, who analyzed the effects of corporate philanthropy on the attitudes of 14,577 employees in 53 offices. They found an overall positive impact on employees of businesses that practice corporate giving. They also found that the way firms choose to deploy charitable funds has a huge impact on the degree to which giving affects employees.
“Specifically, the impact is stronger when firms donate to a few big and visible targets rather than to a wider range of charities chosen by the employees themselves,” says Emily Block, assistant professor at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business in Indiana. She conducted the research with Michael Mannor, also an associate professor at Mendoza; Ante Glavas, now at Kedge Business School in Marseille, France; and Laura Erskine, director of the MPH programs in health policy and management at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“We thought, wrongly, that self-interested employees would look for ways to pay for their own pet projects,” says Block. “However, that was not what we found empirically. Employees care about impact.” Employees have even more positive reactions to corporate philanthropy, the researchers discovered, when their organizations couple charitable donations with opportunities for employees to volunteer.
“Business for Good? An Investigation into the Strategies Firms Use to Maximize the Impact of Financial Corporate Philanthropy on Employee Attitudes” appeared online November 3, 2015, in the Journal of Business Ethics. An abstract of the study can be found at link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10551-015-2930-8