The Philanthropic Approach and Trends

The Approach

In the 1980's strategic philanthropy emerged as a management practice to support social responsibility. By embracing a strategic approach to philanthropy, corporations fulfill their responsibility to their shareholders, and their commitment to the community.

A chronological history of philanthropy in Canada
A chronological history of philanthropy in America

The Philanthropic approach for business in society to contribute funding and other resources to charitable organizations has its benefits. Investing in philanthropic efforts can connect a company to its own employees (increased employee loyalty) and connect loyal customers and future clients. In addition to the benefits to the community, country and internationally, the businesses performance of philanthropy is highly recognized by the public. The benefits also increase the businesses power and exposure while strengthening political ties and stakeholder commitment. Corporate Social Responsibility is described by Carroll's Pyramid (Sexty, pg. 150) of CSR as involving the simultaneous fulfillment of the four responsibilities.

1. Philanthropic Responsibilities - Be a good corporate citizen. Contribute resources to the community; improve quality of life.
2. Ethical Responsibilities - Be ethical. Obligation to do what is right, just, and fair. Avoid harm.
3. Legal Responsibilities - Obey the law. Law is society's codification of right and wrong. Play by the rules of the game.
4. Economic Responsibilities - Be profitable. The foundation upon which all others rest.

Philanthropic responsibilities are further described by Carroll as involving being a good corporate citizen and include active participation in acts or programs to promote human welfare or goodwill. Philanthropy is the altruistic concern for human welfare and advancement, usually manifesting by donation of money, property or work for the needy person.


The shape of global philanthropy has undergone a radical change in the past 20 years - no longer is it a protected domain of bureaucrat and expert, philanthropy has been democratized. We are in a new age of philanthropy. Individual donations from Canada are growing - in large part due to the global dilemmas we are facing such as, natural dissasters, global warming, waste management, water quality, etc. Charitable giving has expanded from very broad - such as contributing to a major international aid organization - to include the very specific - that goat, the community family, the individual support by donating time and energy to rebuilding an area struck by natural dissasters.

First, we've seen the emergence of the mega-philanthropist - people like Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Opray Winfrey, whose resources rival those of small countries and whose generosity has raised hopes for transformational breakthroughs in the fight against disease and poverty.

The Power of Giving - Billionairre Philanthropists
"Philanthropy is changing, and for the better. With billionaires setting a new standard in how their wealth can positively impact others, the world is set to become a better place."

Bill Gates - Turns Money into HOPE for others

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest operated private foundation in the world. The primary aims of the foundation are, globally, to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty, and in America to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology.

Richard Branson - With Extreme Wealth comes Extreme Responsibility

Richard Branson'sachievements are numerous, he believes that his money can help achieve global change where needed.

Oprah Winfrey - Her giving spirt and charitable support never stops

Oprah Winfrey awards millions of dollars in grants to underserved communities that provide educational initiatives and assist people in fulfilling basic human needs and regaining their dignity. One of her major foundations created was the Angel Network which was created in 1997 as a campaign of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" to encourage viewers to collect spare change. Through generous support from donors and personal funding from Oprah Winfrey the Angel Network as been able to help numerous individuals and communities. History and Accomplishments of the Angel Network.

Second, we've seen the rise of celebrity philanthropist - people like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Sir John Elton and Ellen DeGeneres (to name a few) - whose resources are not as great but who are capable of wielding tremendous influence with their ability to attract public, media and political attention. Gone are the days when wearing a ribbon to an award ceremony was the pinnacle of celebrity do-goodery. Now, Hollywood and philanthropy are so closely intertwined, and celebrity activists so common, that there's a major website - - that does nothing but track and report on the philanthropic efforts of famous people.

Celebrities Give$ Big

Brangelina - Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt

Brangelina - Power couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt may rake in huge bucks for their movie blockbusters, but they also give big to charities via the Jolie-Pitt Foundation. As the foundation's tax filing, the philanthropic twosome donated approximately $4.9 million to various local and international charities in 2009. Brad's New Orleans reconstruction project, the Make It Right Foundation, was the top beneficiiary with $2 million donation.

Sir Elton John

Sir Elton John has seen many of his close friends die from HIV/AIDS over the years, and established the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1992 to try to stem the destruction the disease causes around the world.

Ellen DeGeneres


Ellen DeGeneres has made many contributions to society. She supports numerous organizations and has won many awards for her charitable efforts. With Ben Afflect, Ellen launched the Small Change Campaign to benefit Feeding America

Third, we have seen the emergence and growth of corporate social responsibility efforts - businesses that are investing more time, effort and resources to advancing long-term international development goals while doing good at home as well. For instance, the Industry Canada website provides a listing of statistics on Trends and Drivers of Corporate Social Responsibility. Robert W. Sexty describes that there has been a large number of trends and concerns which have impacted corporate giving. The reliance on corporate giving from large institutions, such as hospitals and universities and less reliance of government support has resulted in long-term donation planning. This long-term planning is closing the door to smaller one off donations. Some corporations base their giving opportunities on their financial performance and this giving has a direct reflection on charities if the corporation is experiencing a less then profitable year. In addition, some businesses choose to set up charitable foundations to handle corporate philanthropy.

The cultural shift indicated by of employers and employees interests are also changing as reflected in an article written by the Financial Post June 2011

Fourth, and finally, the emergence of the general public not only as a key contributor to philanthropic causes - which is a role it has long played - but also as a persuasive force in prompting governments and businesses to pursue social justice. For instance, using the Internet as a tool, the people behind the ONE campaign have been able to amass a multi-million-member army of antipoverty activists, raising the issue at the highest possible political level based solely on sheer will and impressive numbers.

Big Society vs. Individual Volunteerism - check out this article and blog site for more information and to add your input. Big Society vs. Individual Volunteer