This blog post is included as part of the “I Am a Philanthropist” series, which highlights different ways that philanthropy students hope to create social impact. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the ideas, views or opinions of LAAF.org.
Colliding Corporations with Nonprofits
Are corporations evil? It depends on who you ask, but they don’t have to be. I want to enhance the system through which corporations and nonprofits interact.
Nonprofits stand on the foundation of a social good mission while corporations run on the prospect of making money. Unfortunately, we see corporate money being filtered into nonprofits and causes in detrimental ways. Because corporations are incentivized to engage in social good to enhance their brand or public image, we see them funding “trendy” causes, which causes overfunding for an issue area for a limited amount of time. Nonprofits with less sexy causes find themselves struggling to find reliable funding sources. Unreliable and suboptimal distribution of corporate funds contributes to the challenges nonprofits face in becoming sustainable. Although some find corporations to have no responsibility when it comes to social good, millennials entering the workforce and more active consumers disagree. The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2018 shows that millennials want organizations to play a bigger role in improving society and they look to business and nonprofit leaders—more than religious or political leaders—to create a positive impact. If we view nonprofits as a direct and meaningful way to tackle important social issues, we should be supporting them in a bigger and better way. If we enhance the relationships between corporations and nonprofits, we as consumers and workers can feel encouraged by our interactions with corporations.
I had an early childhood of suburban, middle class living followed by a monumental descent into poverty and a later shift into the land of money that is Stanford. I experienced the ease with which one can passively live, I gained the perspective of the forgotten, and I realized that money may corrupt but it also has the power to do an incredible amount of good. The corporate world, seeing over $2T in collective profits last year, offers an opportunity to use money explicitly for good. I won’t retreat to passivity or being forgotten, and I feel a responsibility to ensure goodness over corruption as I enter the corporate world.
I want to create a matching system that establishes corporate-nonprofit partnerships by standardizing online applications and assessing participants to ensure alignment of narratives, missions, interests, needs and support type. Once matched, participants would receive secondary support through publicity, mentorship and networking opportunities. Like the college matching system, QuestBridge, which matches low-income students with top-tier institutions, I envision a system that helps high-potential yet struggling nonprofits connect with well-resourced corporations. The desired impact of this venture is to increase the number of corporate-nonprofit partnerships which will provide nonprofits with sustainable funding and change the expectations of corporate social good participation. In doing so, corporations can claim a direct link to a good cause and nonprofits will be able to accomplish their mission more efficiently. Not only will more corporate money be filtered into nonprofit causes, but the potential for a cultural shift is high. With the rise of corporate-nonprofit partnerships, consumers and new talent will expect corporations to be involved in a philanthropic purpose and corporate leaders will begin to prioritize their company’s social impact. Ultimately, the dream is to not have “the corporate world” and “the nonprofit world” but rather just one really good world.