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Philanthropy Will Generate Brand Trust, Loyalty for San Diego Companies

This article was written by Connie Matsui, Chair of Halozyme Therapeutics Inc. and Garry Ridge, President & CEO of the WD-40 Company and first appeared in the San Diego Business Journal on November 9, 2017.

After last month’s Northern California wildfire disaster, several tech companies lined up to assist survivors. Apple and Facebook each pledged $1 million donations to fire-relief efforts. Uber and Lyft offered transportation to those impacted. After the 2007 San Diego Wildfires, many local companies also stepped up to aid survivors by raising more than $10 million through the San Diego Regional Disaster Fund at The San Diego Foundation.

A company can win the temporary admiration and respect of its community with one heroic act of compassionate giving. Yet, how much more impactful would it be for its community and bottom line if that company could generate brand loyalty and trust through philanthropy every day?

In 2016, Americans gave $390 billion to U.S. charities. Yet, only 5 percent came from businesses. California has a giving ratio (the percentage of annual adjusted gross income given to charity) of 2.9 percent, ranking our state 32nd of 50 states. San Diego County is the fifth largest by population in the U.S., yet we rank 18th in total charitable giving behind similarly sized metro areas such as Baltimore, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Seattle. We can do better.

There is a tremendous opportunity for all San Diego companies to help our community thrive by winning our hearts and our business through philanthropy. Aside from the altruistic motivation to help others, companies with successful corporate social responsibility strategies benefit from high employee engagement, employee retention, and the ability to attract top talent.

Millennials starting careers care more about corporate culture (29 percent) and corporate citizenship (26 percent) than pay (15 percent). Wouldn’t you be proud to own or work for a company that helps its community by giving a hand to those in need?

Utilizing Philanthropy Experts

San Diego-based WD-40 Co. adopted a multilevel charitable giving strategy that has been creating positive lasting memories for its tribe members and the community. Their all-volunteer Community Involvement Committee manages the efforts through a donor-advised fund at The San Diego Foundation. The strategy includes an employee matching gift plan, a board of directors giving program, and a strategic effort aided by philanthropic experts to guide about 150 monetary grants per year for maximum impact.

The grantmaking program Advancing Opportunity & Prosperity repositioned the company’s philanthropy to focus on building self-reliance in San Diego County. The program addresses food security, workforce development and family asset building to help people build the confidence, esteem and skills to help themselves.

Every Company Can Give

Small- and medium-sized companies may not have WD-40 Co.’s cash reserves for social investment, but they have an equal opportunity to adopt a charitable giving strategy. Every company has something more to give than just its money or product, including using its public platform to advocate for community benefit or sharing the expertise of its employees through the board service. Companies can donate the time and talent of their organizational management experts to strengthen the infrastructure of the San Diego philanthropic industry.

There are many companies doing good through philanthropy each day in San Diego County, and we applaud their commitment to community. Those who haven’t taken that first step may not know how to structure their giving program or where to make their social investments. After all, there are 10,844 nonprofits in San Diego County.

That’s how community foundations can help. These organizations provide philanthropic experts who explore and structure a giving strategy aligned with a company’s values, mission and assets, and identify nonprofit partners with successful track records of impact in the San Diego region.

If your company doesn’t have a corporate social responsibility strategy, consider adopting one and engaging your employees in the process. You can take the first step today. Join us at National Philanthropy Day on Nov. 14 when about 1,000 regional companies, philanthropists, nonprofits and community leaders come together to honor individuals and organizations doing good and making a difference in our community. One day, it might be you standing on the stage, recognized by your peers as a community change agent.

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