As philanthropic advisors, we hear questions all the time from corporate partners asking how to bring charitable commitments to life and ensure measurable, sustainable social impact. Companies want to know how to assess what stakeholders care about, implement successful programs and demonstrate shared value. They want purpose to drive their work and inspire their employees. Global Impact offers practical advice to help our partners develop leading philanthropy programs and create transformational change.

Last week, we hosted a discussion on the role companies play in inspiring individual purpose. Akhtar Badshah, author of “Purpose Mindset: How Microsoft Inspires Employees and Alumni to Change the World” and former head of Microsoft’s philanthropy program, along with Veena Jayadeva, head of corporate social responsibility at Guardian Life, shared their passion for corporate philanthropy and the ways in which a purpose mindset can build an interconnected workforce and make a difference in the world.

In case you missed the webinar, here are a few key takeaways:

  • Create space to help employees find their purpose. Building employee giving programs helps individuals feel more connected to their colleagues and communities. Badshah shares the example that Microsoft created wealth for its employees and gave them the opportunity to strategically invest and share that wealth in meaningful ways. Creating space for employees to collectively give back can help ignite their sense of connection and purpose, something Badshah refers to in the webinar and his book as “shifting from a moment to a movement.”
  • Center your organization around its purpose. Make your philanthropic program a benefit of working at your company, not just a one-off activity. Clearly state your program’s purpose and ensure that it’s activated. The “Purpose Mindset” references Carol Cone’s research that found 86% of companies have a stated purpose, but only 24% have an activated purpose. An activated purpose unlocks time and talent across the organization, creating a culture that’s not just about making profits; instead the culture is centered around purpose and people. Badshah shared the example that Microsoft originally nurtured a growth mindset – the mission to constantly improve – which focuses on the individual. Approaching a company’s direction through a purpose-driven mindset adds the community element for a stronger impact. It’s the idea that “when I improve, the company improves and the community improves,” forming a positive feedback loop.
  • Shift the focus to strengths, abundance and effectiveness. How are you viewing your organization’s position in the world? Are you working from your strengths or trying to improve weaknesses? If you look through the lens of your strengths, you can bring out the best of everyone and envision a better future. Leave behind the emphasis on scarcity and focus on abundance. When you accentuate what you have, it leads to improved methods and outcomes. Finally, don’t worry about whether you’re doing things right. Instead, choose the right thing to do. Successful philanthropy is not about efficiency, but effectiveness. That’s what changes the world.

View the full webinar recording:

Where to go from here
Reflecting on our conversation, the key takeaways and how a purpose mindset can shape your workplace culture, these four steps can help ensure your company is driven by purpose in 2021:

  1. Continue the conversation with your peers. Send an email to the Global Impact team, and we’ll provide details about a new peer-to-peer discussion group for like-minded professionals looking to increase their social impact.
  2. Determine where your company stands. Does your company have a stated purpose that isn’t in practice? Are things done in practice but not actually stated with clarity and transparency? Building purpose into your company’s work relies on clearly stated goals and objectives that align with current projects and reflect your company’s priorities. We recommend an external assessment if you find yourself in this phase. A third party like Global Impact can provide objective findings and offer concrete steps forward that carry greater weight when presenting to leadership.
  3. Exercise the giving muscle year-round. Driving purpose offers a bridging effect among individual employees and teams, but without continued effort and practice, it does not become a part of the culture. Ask yourself: What are you doing year-round to inspire purpose? Are you reaching individuals where they are and addressing their unique motivations? Build a program framework with Global Impact that extends beyond your giving campaign. We can help you utilize different messaging and programming throughout the year to bring your philanthropic goals to life.
  4. Approach employee engagement as a core part of your business. Integrate purpose across your organization’s culture to avoid stagnant results. Employee engagement and corporate philanthropy have proven business benefits that should be regularly assessed and shared with stakeholders. Companies should analyze strategies, communications and results on an annual basis to ensure the goals you established earlier are on track. Consider bringing in a consultant like Global Impact to support with this assessment or improve program design with new ideas that maximize impact. Our team asks the right questions to help you provide a truly interconnected employee experience.

Addressing employee giving and corporate social responsibility goals across the calendar year helps cultivate an office culture with increased productivity, reduced turnover and greater philanthropic impact. Contact Global Impact to learn how we can work together to create a successful corporate philanthropy journey.