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Michael Maccoby

Michael Maccoby

Michael Maccoby is an anthropologist and psychoanalyst globally recognized as an expert on leadership. He is the author of The Leaders We Need, And What Makes Us Follow.

Venture capital over charity

Corporations contribute to society by producing goods and services that improve the quality of life and providing employment with fair wages and decent working conditions. Some companies do even more by educating its workforce and encouraging employees to contribute to their communities through philanthropy and volunteer activities.

However, the practice of direct corporate philanthropy raises questions. Would the funds that go to philanthropy be better spent as venture capital to create new products and jobs? Employment is certainly one of our highest priorities as a nation.

Who decides about the philanthropy? Would the shareholders agree this is where there money should go? Shouldn't they have a say about which charities they want to support? Republicans often argue that taxes should be cut because "you are a better judge than the government of where to spend your money." This is arguable in the case of government that spends money on education, national defense, homeland security, and health. But it is harder to refute in the case of corporate giving.

Does the philanthropy promote the company? Can it be shown to be good public relations? Or is it mostly public relations for the CEO? Like advertising and promotion of sporting and cultural events, there is a good argument that philanthropy is good for business. However, in support of the public good, there is no question that the greatest corporate contributions are employment and good products.

By Michael Maccoby

 |  November 19, 2009; 3:22 PM ET
Category:  Corporate leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: The best of corporate philanthropy | Next: Our leadership crisis: Where are the women?


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Philanthropy is good PR and good PR becomes money. Any company worth a darn should be able to expande business and give back.

Posted by: flonzy3 | November 20, 2009 2:59 PM
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Are the greatest contributions employment and good products? These are obviously the core objectives of a company, but to how does it provide employment and how. Let's take an example of a one company town. What if comapny causes massive pollution of the air and water around its facilities? What if a company co-opts local government to get tax breaks when taxes could be invested in health and education? What if employees come home from work broken because they are paid a penny over minimum wage or work in dangerous conditions. OK - this ovviously is the extreme, but the point is conversely that a company can generate substantial good will and attrtact the best employees who work hard because a company is a good corporate citizen. If done right with discipline and the right objectives corporate philanthropy can add to productivity and the bottom line. (sorry these thoughts are a bit on the fly/incomplete)

Posted by: DCeagle11 | November 20, 2009 12:31 PM
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