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


The Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support (WINGS) is a network of 147 grantmaker associations, philanthropy support organisations and emerging philanthropic initiatives in 53 countries. Its mission is to strengthen philanthropy and a culture of giving through mutual learning and support, knowledge sharing and professional development among its participants. The network strives to give voice and visibility to philanthropy at a global level.

Among its programs, WINGS actively supports corporate philanthropy. This is in recognition of the growing influence of corporate philanthropy worldwide. Much work, however, needs to be done to build bridges, trust and partnership between the corporate sector and grantmakers such as the WINGS network participants. In a 2000 survey, WINGS found that more than 30 associations and support organisations in its network worked with corporations. They promote corporate grant making and corporate social responsibility (CSR) and provide services to corporate grant makers. They also serve as resource centers for information and technical assistance, develop opportunities for peer learning and collaboration, and provide representation in the promotion of corporate philanthropy.

In a subsequent survey in 2003, the WINGS participants said that sharing good practice and developing collective experience in providing services and support for corporate philanthropy would be very useful. Specifically, they would appreciate understanding the ways in which corporate grantmakers differ from other grantmakers and the implications this has on the role of grantmaker associations. This need for a venue for knowledge and information exchange was also expressed by the participants of WINGSForum 2002 and 2006.

This venue was provided through the WINGS Peer Learning Events (PLEs) program. WINGS regularly convenes PLEs where peers discuss issues of mutual interest, participate in problem solving, and fill in critical gaps in knowledge and information. WINGS captures the learning from PLEs, assisting participants with feedback to their own organisations and to the wider network.

From 2009 to 2010, WINGS held Peer Learning Events in selected capitals:

  • Mexico City, Mexico, March 10 – 12, 2009 for the global PLE
  • Hong Kong, SAR, China, April 27 – 29, 2009 for Asia and the Pacific
  • Bratislava, Slovak Republic, September 16 – 18, 2009 for Europe, and
  • São Paulo, Brazil , February 3 – 5, 2010 for Latin America and the Caribbean

The highlights of the PLEs are documented in this primer. It hopes to serve as basic resource material for grantmaker associations and support organisations whose goal is to pursue corporate partnership. It adopts the perspective of the participants who generously shared their time and thoughts during the PLEs.

This primer is work in progress. It offers guidelines rather than proposing standards for engaging corporations. The application of the guidelines should be considered in light of particular country contexts. As WINGS’ participants deepen their engagement with corporations, the primer will be enriched with more tools and helpful tips.