Seven Levels of Corporate Philanthropy
by Richard Barrett

 

A key aspect of my research over the past several years has been the discovery and development of the model of the Seven Levels of Corporate Consciousness. This model is used to measure and analyze organizational and team cultures. I have also used this model to explain the motivations of corporate philanthropy in its broadest sense - how corporations spend their excess dollars. Corporations will generally operate at several levels of consciousness at the same time. What level does your company operate from?

Survival Consciousness
The corporate focus at this level of consciousness is purely and simply making money. The motivation is greed. It usually takes the form of bribery. There is a underlying assumption in this form of giving that the organization will get back far more than it will give away. If you want to rationalize it, call it an investment.

Relationship Consciousness
The corporate focus at this level of consciousness is relationships that serve the companies needs. The motivation is a milder form of greed. It takes the form of financial support to a cause or campaign to get favors at a later date. If you want to rationalize it, call it putting money aside for a rainy day.

Self-Esteem Consciousness
The corporate focus at this level of consciousness is being the best. The motivation is looking good. It takes the form of financial support to an institution, a charity, or some other cause that is in the public eye. At this level of consciousness the organization wants to be seen to be giving. Preferably they want their contribution to be publicly acknowledged by the institution or organization or get some publicity out of the exercise. If you want to rationalize it, call it building a public image, or indirect advertising.

These first three levels of consciousness are about self-interest. The driving force is getting rather than giving. At the next level of consciousness the emphasis begins to shift to the common good. As we proceed through the higher levels of consciousness there is less concern about returns and more concern about the impact the giving will have on the beneficiaries and society in general. In the higher levels of consciousness the organization recognizes it operates within a social context and that it ultimate success depends of the success of the whole.

Transformation
The corporate focus at this level of consciousness is learning and growth. The motivation is increasing knowledge. It takes the form of contributions to institutions and organizations that foster new ideas and help people learn and grow. At this level of consciousness the organization is concerned about increasing the education level of a general pool of candidates for future employment.

Organizational Consciousness
The corporate focus at this level is the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs of employees. The motivation is employee fulfillment. It takes the form of exercise facilities, child care, emotional support and personal development. It is about creating great facilities and helping employees become all they can become. Underlying this motivation is the dual purpose of attracting the best people and building a better world by growing people.

Community Consciousness
The corporate focus at this level of consciousness is support to the local community. The motivation is caring about what employees care about. It takes the form of financial contributions to local charities and local communities as well giving paid time off to employees so that they can contribute to their favorite charities. Underlying this motivation is the recognition that the organization and employees are part of a larger social construct. The success of the company and the community are interwoven.

Societal Consciousness
The corporate focus at this level of consciousness is to support society as a whole. The motivation is to make the world a better place to live. Corporations at this level recognize that whatever contribution they can make to improving societal conditions will benefit everyone. They understand the interconnectedness of all life.

Excerpted from the article Seven Levels of Corporate Philanthropy -- Making Money while Making a Difference

Copyright 1998 Richard Barrett & Associates LLC
1104 Oxner Cove Road, Waynesville, NC 28786. Tel: (828) 452-5050, Fax: (828) 452-6999, E-mail, Web site

 

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