Corporate Social Responsibility vs. Corporate Philanthropy

In this episode we differentiate between corporate social responsibility and corporate philanthropy. As well as the definitions of corporate citizenship and corporate social responsiveness. 

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Karl Yeh:

So today I'm joined by Nicole Campbell CSR expert. And the question we're going to answer is what is the difference between corporate social responsibility and corporate philanthropy?

So, Nicole, I'm confused with this because it sounds like they're kind of the same thing, but [00:01:00] I'm assuming that they're different.

Nicole Campbell:

Yes and they're often used interchangeably I find.

But they are different, they're related but they're different.

So the easiest way that I used to describe this is think of corporate social responsibility or CR as the umbrella that has a whole bunch of different pillars.

So these are the enabling aspects of corporate social responsibility, those are the hows.

So corporate philanthropy is just one of the hows [00:01:30] that fits under the broader corporate responsibility umbrella.

And beside philanthropy, and I'll explain some components of that, you're going to have DEI, so diversity equity inclusion, going to have your supply chain, you're going to have your sustainability environmental initiatives, and then you'll have an employee engagement aspect of things.

So this would be your employee giving and voluntary programs.

Those should all be sort of working together with one another but they all have their own strategies, [00:02:00] KPIs and measurements.

So from the corporate philanthropy aspect of it under this broader CR umbrella, this is where companies are giving back strategic grants and money to their communities in one specific way.

So this is them giving money or giving their products.

It's a little bit different than what you're doing with some of these other brothers and sisters beside them underneath of the umbrella.

Does that make sense?

Karl Yeh:

It [00:02:30] does.

Because when I think corporate philanthropy, the thing that I immediately go to is larger corporations giving.

And then there is that what is CSR?

And if you want to know more about that, we've got a video here and I'll leave it in the description below.


But it's an interesting concept because I think from the lay person perspective, they're exactly the same thing.

And then you layer into [00:03:00] what I actually want to talk about as well is corporate citizenship, where it's the person inside a corporation or a business actually doing good. Isn't that right?

Nicole Campbell:

And it is a tricky one to kind of wrap your head around.

If you think about it, CR is not just about giving money, and I think that's the new [crosstalk 00:03:24]. Corporate Philanthropy is the large dollars or product donation money aspect of CR. Then you have hiring practices [00:03:30] as an example, under diversity, equity and inclusion.

Or ensuring that your workforce is inclusive and people are also learning about DEI issues.

And then green is sustainability, like what's your urban footprint?

How are you promoting your people to be less waste?

So it's not just about money, but in philanthropy, as one of the CR components, [00:04:00] it is about the money.

Corporate social responsiveness vs. corporate citizenship

Karl Yeh:

I was actually researching a little bit further cause I wanted to see the differences between the two, but a term that popped up is corporate social responsiveness, the definition of that.

So corporate citizenship is sort of like the person, but then corporate social responsiveness is the action.

So how fast or how effective [00:04:30] is the business's response to, you can say crisis or what their actions are versus corporate citizenship is more of the person themselves.

So I just wanted to bring that up because that was an interesting term that I actually researched.

Nicole Campbell:

Yeah. And if I want to throw another confusing one in there.

Corporate responsiveness is arguably disaster relief, that's a pretty common term use in the CR world.

And a lot of companies [00:05:00] have specific people or teams that are devoted just to responding to things that are happening in the world.

It could be disasters or it could be political catastrophes and how they're supporting and enabling their organizations and communities to give back and respond to those.

Karl Yeh:

So let's backtrack here.

So corporate philanthropy is just one aspect of corporate social responsibility.

Because I think that's where most people think of right away, it's like businesses giving money.

But like you mentioned there's different [00:05:30] types and different pillars that they go through.

Which we actually have a video about and you can check it out right up here.



About Nicole Campbell:

Nicole’s passion for behavioral science plays a key role in her ability to help organizations manage and adapt to change. 

Nicole has worked with companies of all sizes, industries, program varieties, and varying levels of executive support — and has had a hand in designing or growing Social Impact programs for some of the biggest brands out there. Her role, working with so many different companies, has provided her with a wealth of experience, data and anecdotes that have shaped a strong understanding of what works, what doesn’t and what’s next.