Corporate philanthropy is the practice of donating money, goods, or services to charitable causes. It is a way for businesses to give back to the communities they serve and make a positive impact on the world.
Corporate philanthropy has been around for centuries, but it has become increasingly important in recent years. This is due to a few factors, including the growing awareness of social and environmental issues, the increasing expectations of consumers and employees, and the need to build a strong corporate reputation.
To that end, corporate philanthropy can be a powerful tool for businesses to achieve their strategic goals. It can help to build a positive public image, enhance relationships with consumers and employees, attract and retain top talent, improve employee morale and productivity, reduce risk and liability, and create a more sustainable business model
There are many ways for businesses to engage in corporate philanthropy. Some common methods include donating money to charities, providing goods or services to charities, matching employee donations, volunteering employee time, and investing in social impact projects and partnerships.
There is no wrong or right way per se to ‘do’ corporate philanthropy. In general, the best way for a business to engage in corporate philanthropy will depend on its specific goals and resources. However, all businesses can benefit from making a commitment to giving back to the community.
One example of a company that is doing corporate philanthropy well is Starbucks. Starbucks has a long history of giving back to the communities it serves. In 2022, the company donated over $200 million to charitable causes. Starbucks also has several programs that encourage its employees to volunteer their time. For example, the company’s “Shared Planet” program allows employees to take paid time off to volunteer at local organizations.
Another example of a company that is doing corporate philanthropy well is Microsoft. Microsoft has several programs that focus on education, sustainability, and social justice. In 2022, the company donated over $1 billion to charitable causes. Microsoft also has several employee volunteer programs. For example, the company’s “Imagine Cup” program challenges students to develop technology solutions to social problems.
These are just two examples of the many companies that are engaged in corporate philanthropy. Corporate philanthropy is a growing trend, and it is a way for businesses to make a positive impact on the world.
The Challenges of Corporate Philanthropy
While there are many benefits to corporate philanthropy, there are also some challenges that businesses need to be aware of.Some of the challenges of corporate philanthropy include the need to align corporate philanthropy with the company’s values and goals, as well as the need to measure the impact of corporate philanthropy. Setting clear and measurable goals that align with the purpose of the business is paramount.
Companies should choose causes that are aligned with their values and goals, measure the impact of their philanthropy program, communicate that impact to stakeholders, and be transparent about their philanthropy program.
Brandee McHale, an influential figure in the world of finance and philanthropy, currently serves as the Head of Community Investing and Development at Citi and President of the Citi Foundation. Under her expert leadership, McHale oversees Citi’s ambitious strategy to foster economic opportunity and cultivate equitable and inclusive growth in communities worldwide through impact investing, inclusive finance, community relations, and philanthropy initiatives via the Citi Foundation.
A Lifetime of Service and Advocacy
With over three decades of invaluable experience in the financial services and philanthropic sectors, McHale has committed her professional life to creating forward-thinking initiatives. These initiatives, designed meticulously and executed passionately, aim to link low-income communities and communities of color to viable employment opportunities, secure housing, and a brighter, more stable economic future.
Before stepping into her current role, McHale was at the forefront of Citi’s corporate citizenship endeavors, where she steered philanthropy, volunteerism, and environmental sustainability. She once held the position of Director of Operations for Citi Community Capital, and throughout her career, McHale has performed various business management and philanthropy-centric leadership roles within community relations.
Beyond her time at Citi, McHale demonstrated her commitment to financial inclusion and asset building during her tenure as a program officer at the renowned Ford Foundation. Here, she played a pivotal role in establishing a compelling business case for financial inclusion and asset building, shedding light on the critical need for these initiatives.
An Architect of Change
Under McHale’s stewardship, Citi and the Citi Foundation have not only championed but have become synonymous with progressive community development projects. The programs they support, often innovative and scalable, are designed to have a meaningful, sustainable impact on marginalized communities. Her work is more than a matter of corporate responsibility—it is a model for how corporations can actively and genuinely invest in societal growth.
Leadership Beyond Citi
McHale’s impact is not contained within the walls of her office. She currently chairs Living Cities, a groundbreaking collaborative comprising the 22 largest philanthropic foundations in the U.S., dedicated to closing racial wealth gaps. This effort exemplifies her hands-on approach to addressing deeply rooted systemic issues and highlights her ability to mobilize influential institutions toward a common goal.
In addition to her role at Living Cities, McHale serves as a valued member of the board of the Council on Foundations, a national organization designed to support and empower philanthropic entities.
Her past leadership positions are equally notable. She has served as the Chair of the Global Steering Committee for the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), and as Board Chair for Prosperity Now, a group centered around promoting economic opportunity and mobility within the United States. Moreover, McHale has held positions on the boards of directors of several prominent organizations, including the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), America’s Promise Alliance, and Philanthropy NY.
In an era when the call for corporations to engage responsibly and meaningfully with the communities they impact is growing louder, Brandee McHale stands as a beacon. Her career, marked by an unwavering commitment to societal upliftment and financial equity, offers a blueprint for others in positions of power and influence.
As a result of her tireless efforts, McHale has not only redefined what it means to be a leader in the corporate and philanthropic world but has also played a key role in laying a foundation for a more equitable and prosperous future for countless individuals and communities.
McHale is more than just a leader in community investing and development; she is an inspiring example of how dedication, vision, and strategic action can transform lives and contribute to broader social change. As she continues her work, the impact of McHale’s legacy is sure to be felt across communities, industries, and generations.
As with all guests on The Caring Economy, Brandee McHale exemplifies how leaders with purpose-driven lives and careers are shaping our contemporary lives for the better.