Infrastructure in Focus: The Landscape of Support to Corporate Philanthropy

Following up on WINGS Infrastructure in Focus series, we are launching a new study on the Landscape of Support to Corporate Philanthropy, looking into and opening a discussion on the learnings and experiences of WINGS members, and sharing these with a wider audience. The report looks into a field that is in different degrees of development around the world, but that is increasing both in volume and in sophistication everywhere. Demands from governments and civil society are putting corporate philanthropy on the spotlight and creating a set of different needs and opportunities.

New social and legal requirements are quickly changing the corporate giving landscape. For example, demand for companies to comply with new laws and suddenly greatly increase their giving can result in the giving away of funds without much thought or strategy. This shift in the way we see the role can also be found on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as goal 17 (Revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development) notes that: ‘a successful sustainable development agenda requires partnerships between governments, the private sector and civil society.’

Support to corporate philanthropy is therefore more important than ever, as is the provision of the necessary tools and infrastructure for the field to develop. Infrastructure organizations are already working on providing services focused not only on more “traditional” areas, such as advocacy, training on legal issues and giving strategies, peer learning and research, but also on bringing together corporate actors with other stakeholders in society, and making a case for corporate philanthropy (even within companies). Another area highlighted both by WINGS members’ work and shown by the literature as a growth area is the alignment of business and philanthropy – roughly half of the survey respondents mentioned some form of involvement in the area, which, in one case, is centrally underpinning all their work with corporate clients.

The task that lies ahead of WINGS members and other support organizations is to facilitate, however possible, the formalization of the corporate field as it develops. Underpinning most of the developments in the field will be more and better information, and the development of standardized reporting methods and which take account of the non-cash elements of corporate giving. As legislation increases, support organizations can take the lead in lobbying governments to ensure that it creates a more conducive environment for giving, rather than a more restrictive one. At the same time, they may need to ensure that this growing formality works in favor of both corporate donors and the societies they support, rather than forcing them into a straitjacket of expectation and regulation.

You can download and read the report in full on the WINGS website here.

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