Integrating Arts Philanthropy as Corporate Strategy – October 27, 2005

Today, I attended a program presented by Business Arts Council and Charles Schwab entitled "Integrating Arts Philanthropy as Corporate Strategy:  The Correlation Between Profit & Mission."  Gary P. Steuer, Executive Director of Artis & Business Council of Americans for the Arts, served as moderator for a panel that included Marcia Argyris, President of McKesson Foundation; Shona Carter, representing Clorox Company Foundation; Maggie Sokolov, Manager Account Development of American Express Company; June Sugiyama, Director of Vodafone-US Foundation; and Steve Wright, Program/Technical Director of Foundation.


* The overview by Mr. Steuer of corporate social responsibility and other avenues of partnerships between businesses and arts organizations (e.g., arts-based learning used to improve corporate performance).

* Making the case for arts philanthropy in times of great need for social services with the following considerations:  diversity, expression, culture, education, history (we often learn about history and social issues from the arts), economic development, strategic philanthropy (e.g., marketing benefits of sponsorships), employee engagement (e.g., recruitment and retention) and personal connections with grantor insiders.

The presentation touched on the importance of understanding why corporations give.  Some corporate boards (particularly those of public companies) believe that the only reason to give is to ultimately improve their corporation’s financial performance.  This view focuses on the board’s fiduciary duties to its shareholders (e.g., if the corporation makes a contribution, it prevents the individual shareholder from deciding how she should use her proportional share of such funds).  Other motivations include:  altruism and social responsibility.