Business relations, Part 4

By Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Partnerships between corporations and nonprofits can be a “tremendously symbiotic relationship,” says Laura Meyer, executive vice president at Foundation for the Carolinas and a veteran marketing executive for Citigroup and Bank of America.

US Trust, for example, sponsored the foundation’s fall reception this year, and shares its trust-management expertise with the foundation’s staff throughout the year.

The foundation also held a roundtable discussion on trust vehicles for staff from both organizations, and a US Trust official serves on the professional advisers cabinet the foundation launched in October to bring together lawyers, accountants, certified financial planners and financial-services professionals to share ideas.

“It’s not a mutually exclusive relationship by any stretch,” Meyer says.

In addition to $150,000 donated to Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina over the past five years by Philip Morris USA and its employee community fund, 17 employees contributed more than 100 volunteer hours to the nonprofit, says Bill Phelps, a corporate spokesman.

And Rick Wilson, a director of quality assurance at the company’s manufacturing center in Cabarrus County, serves on the group’s board.

Valuing employees is one of 12 corporate goals at Philip Morris, says Phelps, and “our employees have shown a keen interest in being active in our communities.”

Plepler of the Bank of America Charitable Foundation says corporate philanthropy simply makes good business sense.

“Large corporations are competing more intensely than ever for top talent, and one of the questions that employees are beginning to ask is, ‘What is the company’s commitment to the communities it serves?’” he says. “It’s becoming a real competitive advantage in employee attraction and retention to have a robust community impact program.”

The McColl business school’s Broderick, who also is board chair for the Executive Service Corps of the Charlotte Region, a nonprofit that matches volunteers with nonprofits needing consulting advice, says corporate philanthropy helps burnish a company’s image and helps build the element of trust that is critical for employees, investors, consumers and business-to-business customers.

Corporations, he says, “need to recognize the importance of involvement in nonprofits and the community.”

Other stories in the series:

Part 1: Nonprofits, corporations find value in each other.
Part 2: Value in working together spurs growth in partnerships.
Part 3: Nonprofits enjoy boost from corporate partnerships.

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