10 Lessons from Top Philanthropic Companies of 2015

We work with socially responsible companies every day. From those championing a volunteer program internally to those who match their employees’ giving to charity, we’ve seen so many incredible companies do great things for their employees, their communities and the world. Today we shine a light on these corporate giving heroes in the hopes their socially responsible efforts will inspire you in 2016. We pulled together the top ten philanthropic companies according to CR’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens 2015, and created suggestions based on their efforts that companies of all sizes can implement in the New Year.

Take a look at what makes these companies the best in philanthropy and how yours can follow suit:

1. Microsoft

Microsoft is making waves in the philanthropy world in many different ways. The company takes heavy interest in aiding the global fight against human trafficking, as well as global diversity & inclusion, environmental sustainability and responsible sourcing.

“Our approach to human rights is aligned with the United Nations Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights and is articulated in the Microsoft Global Human Rights Statement, a broad framework and common set of principles that apply to our business practices.”

Model after Microsoft: Any organization, no matter the size, can develop a human rights policy. It’s an unpredictable process, and will need to be continuously updated as experience is gained, but it is possible with the help of the right resources. Resources, like this one from the United Nations Global Compact Office and OHCHR, are a great starting place for small to medium businesses. Need more inspiration? Check out this list of the UN’s recognized policies from companies around the world


2. IBM

Number two in the rankings of philanthropy in the corporate world is IBM. The company focuses its philanthropic efforts on everything from education and economic development & skill development to cities and citizenship engagement and social services.

“A company should think about what it has that it could contribute that is more valuable than its excess cash… for IBM, that’s our innovation, our technology and our talent.” – Stanley Litow, IBM vice president of corporate citizenship and corporate affairs

IBM contributes to scientific research for the greater good by providing surplus processing power from individual computers into a massive computing system known as the World Community Grid. They also have established a program, Reading Companion, which uses voice-recognition technology to assist adults and children in learning to read. 83 percent of U.S. consumers want more of the services and products they benefit from to benefit causes. IBM’s cause work does just that.

Implement Like IBM: Find your organization’s philanthropic niche by evaluating the products and services provided to consumers or clients. Then, use any abundant resources to give back to consumers in a way that aligns with their original demand for your product or service. For example, a law office that provides consultation to drunk driving offenders or victims can give back by providing taxi cab rides during the holiday season. See how Hauptman-O’Brien gives back to their potential target market and the entire community with their Safe Ride Home campaign.


3. Lexmark

Lexmark has its hands in many different pots of social responsibility by contributing to Habitat for Humanity (recently dedicating its 20th house) and improving waste and recycling management within their own company.

“We are committed to sustainability because we know the benefits it brings to the business. We know it drives profitable revenue growth and directly affects the bottom line. It helps us be more efficient and more effective in the marketplace, ultimately making Lexmark a more competitive company.”

Lead Like Lexmark: Getting involved with the Habitat for Humanity is one of the easiest philanthropic efforts any organization can partake in. Whether your business has one location or fifty, every location can get involved by searching for their nearest Habitat for Humanity affiliate. There’s also information on upcoming local events from the search and an array of volunteer programs a team of 5 to 50 can participate in.


4. Hasbro

Hasbro dedicates its philanthropic efforts to children who have Autism with their program ToyBox Tools:

The ToyBox Tools program was created to provide that structure through a series of tools rooted in evidence-based and emerging best practices. These instructional videos, printable materials and play-mats are designed to help families, caregivers and teachers unlock the power of play, and to make play more fun and enjoyable at a child’s own pace.”

Help out like Hasbro: While you may not be in the business of making toys and games, you can still align your corporate philanthropy efforts to what your organization does. Are you an accounting practice? Try organizing monthly tutoring nights at a local community college or giving lessons on the internet sharing your skills!


5. PG&E group

PG&E is ranked for its philanthropic work in preserving historic gas plant sites, protecting vital resources, and transforming former utility facilities.

“At PG&E, our environmental commitment includes thoroughly evaluating sites throughout our service area that may have been impacted by our historical utility operations. We use scientific andenvironmental best management practices supported by culturally relevant stakeholder outreach to engage communities in a meaningful way.”

Participate like PG&E: Preserving cultural history isn’t limited to large corporations. Mid-size and small companies can do the same; from working with your local preservation experts in your neighborhood to keep the streets safe and clean to working with historical societies to document the history around your industry.


6. Intel Corp.

Intel implemented a matching grant program which grants nonprofit organizations money for employees time spent.

“When Intel employees commit hours, Intel commits dollars. The Intel Involved Matching Grant program awards cash grants to eligible organizations based on the number of hours that Intel employees volunteer.”

Impact like Intel: Matching grant programs, like matching gift programs, can be costly for small to medium sized businesses, but organizations of any size can provide non-monetary rewards for volunteering hours to improve employee participation rates. Even providing employees with paid-time off to partake in volunteering is a great way smaller organizations can give back without hurting the budget.


7. Air Products & Chemicals Inc.

Air Products & Chemicals contributes to social well being through volunteering programs, grant giving, and community projects around the world. They also have implemented a matching gifts program to support education and cultural arts.

“In the United States, we provide a Matching Gifts program to higher education institutions and qualifying nonprofit arts and cultural organizations. Gifts to accredited colleges and universities are currently matched 1-for-1, up to $5,000 annually per eligible employee. Gifts to arts groups are currently matched 2-for-1, up to $2,000 annually per eligible employee.”

Assist like Air Products & Chemicals Inc: Don’t have the capital to support a matching gifts program? There are many options and parameters you may not be aware of, so it’s best to seek out different programs and options to best fit your company. You can also set up employee giving programs without the matching element and provide a non-monetary reward for employees who participate.


8. Eli Lilly & Co

Eli Lilly gives back not only monetarily, but by sharing value of their company to communities all over the world by improving medicine. However, one of the most unique ways to show all they do in philanthropy is through their microsite: LillyPad. Think of LillyPad as a Tumblr for corporate philanthropy. They showcase their charitable efforts in a way that’s sure to engage employees and increase participation. Take a look at their site: https://lillypad.lilly.com/ and you’re sure to see how important philanthropy is to Eli Lilly.

Echo Eli Lilly: Creating a microsite for your organization’s philanthropic efforts is a cinch with the help of WordPress or even Tumblr. Use your web development resources to create a page or simply enlist in the help of your social media team! More than two-thirds of respondents in a global online survey on CSR say they prefer to work for a socially responsible company.


9. General Mills, Inc

General Mills donated more than $150 million each fiscal year in 2013, 2014 and 2015 to community nonprofits. At nearly $3 million a week, brand philanthropy and corporate contributions represent their largest share of giving. Known for their Box Tops for Education (which supports K-8 schools in the U.S), they also give back to support public schools.

“The General Mills Foundation partners with the employees and brands of General Mills to support K-12 educational efforts in the domestic U.S. communities in which General Mills operates, particularly in our headquarters community with Minneapolis public schools. Our Foundation prioritizes efforts in three areas that best leverage our financial, intellectual and creative resources.”

Give Like General Mills: Using employees’ skills to volunteer not only helps others, but it helps develop your employees’ skills too. It’s known as skills-based volunteering, and it’s proven to develop employee leadership skills, improve employee retention and engagement. Research by Deloitte Consulting shows that 87% of HR executives believe skills-based volunteering helps employees improve teamwork and people skills.


10. Accenture

Between 2011 and 2014 Accenture contributed around $220 million to support their corporate citizenship efforts.

“In the UK, our focus is on environmental sustainability and social sustainability in the form of our Skills to Succeed initiative aimed at helping to address youth unemployment. We want to bring positive change to the communities where we live and work. I am deeply proud of the enthusiasm and commitment I see from our people as they use their time, skills and experience to bring our citizenship ambitions to life every day.”- Olly Benzecry, Senior Managing Director, Accenture UK and Ireland.

Assist like Accenture: One of the best ways for companies to give back is through programs that educate and train the next generation of workers, like Accenture’s. No matter what industry your organization serves, they all can be driven back to education. Start a book drive by asking your employees to donate new and used books, create a youth summer skills camp or even start an internship program or after school program for adolescents interested in your line of work.

Businesses of all type and size can get involved in philanthropy. How can your company make it to the list of socially responsible and philanthropic fame? Check out JK Group’s many programs that integrate social responsibility here. An astounding 79% of people prefer to work with a socially responsible company. JK Group makes it easy for you to incorporate philanthropic programs into your company, for more information on how you can make a difference, check out our blog or register for a demo philanthropy software.