Engaging Corporations - Some suggestions on how to engage corporations based on stories of network members

Definition of concepts, Framework presentation

Over time, the "enlightened self-interest’ of business has been linked to its sustainability. Companies are now more conscious of their role in addressing profound social ills as they affect markets, sources of raw materials and stability of operations and, consequently, bottom lines. Corporations increasingly see themselves as members of a community, rather than just producers of goods and services. They see themselves as stakeholders in development, where a stakeholder is a person or groups of persons with an interest in an enterprise, business, movement, etc., but is not necessarily an owner because it can affect or be affected by actions, objectives, and policies of an enterprise, business, movement.i


According to the popular online reference, Wikipedia, Corporate social responsibility(CSR) can be seen as a form of corporate self-regulation integrated into a business model. Ideally, CSR policy should function as a built-in, self-regulating mechanism whereby business monitors and ensures its adherence to laws, ethical standards, and international norms. Business should embrace responsibility for the impact of their activities on the environment, consumers, employees, communities, stakeholders and all other members of the public sphere. Furthermore, business should proactively promote the public interest by encouraging community growth and development, and voluntarily eliminating practices that harm the public sphere, regardless of legality. Essentially, CSR is the deliberate inclusion of public interest into corporate decision-making, and the honoring of a triple bottom line: People, Planet, Profit.ii

The term engaging corporations, as defined by WINGS’ participants during the Peer Learning Events, is relationship building between associations of grantmakers and philanthropy support organisations and corporations. The relationship is characterized by:

  • Constant dialogue between the two parties.
  • Partnerships that are created to be mutually beneficial.
  • Involvement of corporate members within the association such that they feel a part of the association.
  • A depth of relations made evident through corporate member participation in the program.
  • Corporate ability to incorporate philanthropy into the corporate agenda.
  • Corporate commitment to strategic philanthropy leading to social change.