“The purpose of a company is to engage all its stakeholders in shared and sustained value creation. In creating such value, a company serves not only its shareholders, but all its stakeholders — employees, customers, suppliers, local communities and society at large. The best way to understand and harmonize the divergent interests of all stakeholders is through a shared commitment to policies and decisions that strengthen the long-term prosperity of a company.”

— Davos Manifesto 2020


Published May 17, 2022

Business is undergoing a fundamental shift as more and more companies engage a broader set of stakeholders in an effort to create more sustained value. 

And with that shift, an exciting evolution in corporate philanthropy is underway.

Traditionally, corporate philanthropy has been about companies deciding where they will invest their budgets and resources and inviting nonprofit organizations working in those chosen areas to compete for support through grant applications.

But the pandemic, the racial justice movement, climate advocacy and the Great Resignation are all pointing to the continued rise of the stakeholder — the consumer, customer, partner, employee or community member — who increasingly wants businesses to support the values and causes that matter to them and to give their stakeholders a say in how businesses are making decisions, including how they direct their philanthropic dollars.

A number of companies are already responding. They’re actively engaging their communities and involving a variety of stakeholders in decisions about the social impact areas in which they invest and how. They’re also actively partnering with nonprofits to remove barriers to access resources and to ensure their success.

It’s an inclusive approach, based on trust, collaboration and engagement, that is inspiring a new model of community investment and granting: stakeholder philanthropy. This new model is an opportunity for purpose-driven brands to become leaders in meeting their employees and consumers where they are — and to realize both social and business benefits.

What do stakeholders want and expect?

To better understand what employees and consumers are thinking and feeling about the way companies approach community investment, Benevity commissioned a survey of 1,000 American adults to explore their views.

We were surprised by just how pronounced stakeholders’ expectations were. Overwhelmingly, the data reveals that not only do they expect companies to give back, but they also expect to have a say in where businesses are giving.

What’s more, the brands who involve employee and consumer stakeholders in their corporate giving initiatives are likely to garner more trust and are seen as more transparent. People are more likely to want to work for them and consumers are more likely to buy from them.