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Even at a time when we are facing some of the most difficult economic conditions in our nation's history and corporate dollars are tight, organizations continue to recognize the importance of their philanthropic efforts, exemplified by today's sold-out convening of companies from all over the country at the Corporate Philanthropy Summit.
Our chairman, Steve Case, took part in a panel at the conference, which was hosted by the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) at the Time Warner Center in New York, titled "Rebuilding Economic Stability by Bridging Business and Social Demands." Moderated by Stephanie Strom of the New York Times, Steve was joined on the panel by Marc Benioff, Chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com and Shelly Lazarus, Chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, to discuss the importance of corporate philanthropy, particularly in these tough economic times.
A few highlights from the discussion:
- Steve spoke about the mission of both Revolution and the Case Foundation to invest in ideas, companies and people who can change the world, and talked to the potential of a "hybrid" business/philanthropy model, such as that of National Geographic, which serves as one of the best examples of "embedded" philanthropy.
- Shelly Lazarus highlighted some of the companies Ogilvy & Mather is working with that exemplify the impact that philanthropy can have on building a brand, including DuPont, who stepped in to help rebuild Greensburg, KS as a "green" town after it was leveled by a tornado in 2007.
- Marc Benioff talked about the process that Salesforce.com went through to develop its philanthropic model. He highlighted the fact that Salesforce has integrated philanthropy into everything the company does, with the core philosophy that corporate philanthropy shouldn't be just about writing a check.
- The group discussed the issue of "greenwashing" and the potential downside to blurring the lines of philanthropy and business. Steve expressed concern that greenwashing could scare companies from experimenting with new initiatives, and Marc Benioff noted the importance of making a commitment over the long-term in order to truly see an impact.
- The panel also discussed the importance of transparency and authenticity in corporate philanthropy, with the panel agreeing that companies should focus on how they can make an impact with their people and brands, rather than focusing on the dollar value of their contributions.
Our CEO, Jean Case, was also in attendance and tweeted some of the key highlights:
@jeancase: Shelly Lazarus from Ogilvy says companies benefit from fewer initiatives with clear focus and impact versus many different things
@jeancase: Marc Benioff from Salesforce says business is good if it makes others successful and improves the world
@jeancase: Steve Case says this cycle will move Corp philanthropy from silos to embedded for more impact and sustainability