Business relations, Part 1

By Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — At its Empty Bowls luncheon last March that raised more than $30,000 to fight hunger, the Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina sold two-thirds of the tickets through corporate sponsorships of tables.

Corporations give the Food Bank a lot of financial support by sponsoring events and making donations, says Kay Carter, executive director.

But they do much more, she says, contributing food and other products and services, hosting workplace food drives, and encouraging employees to volunteer and serve on its board.

“The support we receive from corporations far exceeds what is simply reflected in the budget revenues because we get so many levels of support from them,” she says.

Faced with growing competition in their respective marketplaces, nonprofits and corporations increasingly are finding value in forming partnerships with one another.

Like the Food Bank, many nonprofits look to corporations not only for dollars but also for in-kind support, volunteers, board members and access to corporate expertise.

And corporations increasingly are recognizing that philanthropy can boost their relationship with the communities they serve and with their employees, customers and shareholders.

“We look at ourselves as having a dual mission of enhancing social impact in communities, as well as the brand impact of the company,” says Andrew Plepler, president of the Bank of America Charitable Foundation. “Our relationships with nonprofits are a critical way to achieve those objectives.”

Terry Broderick, dean of the McColl Graduate School of Business at Queens University of Charlotte and retired president and CEO of Charlotte-based Royal & SunAlliance USA, says corporate giving reflects a dual purpose and a “triple” bottom line.

“Nonprofit involvement on the part of a corporation is the right thing to do, but it’s also good for business,” he says. “For a corporation to sustain itself over time, it has to deliver a three-pronged result. Those three prongs are a financial result, respect for the environment and a commitment to the community.”

Other stories in series:

Part 2: Value in working together spurs growth in partnerships. 
Part 3: Nonprofits enjoy boost from corporate partnerships.
Part 4: Corporations see payoff from investing in nonprofit partnerships.

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