Corporate foundations on a journey from alienated to strategic impact partner

 

We know the statistics: if we want to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we still have a funding gap of a $ 2.5 trillion yearly[1]. We urgently need to find resources to invest in the SDGs, and ways to scale the impact. Multi-stakeholder partnerships can create synergies and unlock further financial and nonfinancial resources to fill the funding gap. One partnership in particular has vast yet unexplored opportunities to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs: the partnership between companies and their related corporate foundations.

Thanks to their vantage point, in between philanthropy and the private sectors, corporate foundations can leverage corporate resources to achieve their own social missions, while influencing companies or even entire industries towards sustainability.

Take the partnership between Philips and Philips Foundation for example. Philips Foundation works to create ‘meaningful solutions that reduce healthcare inequality and impact lives’[2]. Philips, as a company, is in the business of healthcare. Hence, for Philips Foundation SDG 3 (good health and well-being) was a perfect hook to establish a successful partnership with the company.

Working on a common theme, Philips Foundation can directly leverage the company’s ‘expertise, innovation power, talent, and resources’, in the domain of healthcare to support innovation for vulnerable communities around the world. Philips Foundation can, for example, engage corporate employees, and transfer skills and expertise, so that the communities it works with can build their own capacities around health-related issues and reduce their dependence on third parties.

Besides leveraging further corporate resources, corporate foundations are also in the position to inspire the company and its employees to embed social impact considerations in their work. Many foundations seek to create awareness around the moral and ethical values around social issues and their beneficiary group, with the aim to change the employees’ behaviour and thus business practices related to these issues.

When engaging employees of the company, Philips Foundation doesn’t only access a great talent pool, but has also the opportunity to create awareness among the employees around the social issues it tackles, and make the employees see healthcare with different eyes.

Seizing alignment opportunities like the one of the Philips Foundation with its related company, helps access resources and leverage the corporate’s work towards sustainability, to achieve social outcomes at scale, and help achieve the SDGs.

Do you want to learn more about the opportunities and challenges of alignment? Then you can’t miss the first-ever C Summit for Corporate Social Investors in Munich on 11-12 September 2019. You will have the opportunity to join workshops, discussions and be inspired by peers. Join us!

Priscilla Boiardi is Knowledge Centre and Policy Director, EVPA
Karoline Heitmann is Corporate Research Associate at EVPA
Lonneke Roza is Senior Researcher at EVPA, and Assistant Professor Erasmus University
Steven Serneels is CEO at EVPA


Footnotes

  1. ^ https://www.sdgphilanthropy.org/
  2. ^ https://www.philips-foundation.com/a-w/our-work.html

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