SME Corporate Philanthropy (CP): Exploring how CP is managed and appraised for its impact on communities
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AbstractPurpose The ability to appraise the impact of any project allows for the opportunity to improve the project over time. The purpose of this study is to develop a bespoke Appraisal Tool, for SMEs, for Strategic Corporate Philanthropy (SCP), which allows organisations to appraise the impact of their SCP projects for themselves and the community. Exploring approaches to appraise SCP has been severely neglected by academics. Most appraisal tools focus on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). This study will research how organisations practise and appraise their SCP activities. It is believed that a strategic approach to corporate philanthropy will increase the impact it has on the community, and the bespoke SCP Appraisal Tool for SMEs developed by the researcher will complement this approach. The central focus of this study is the way key decision makers of SMEs manage SCP. The impact of utilising a separate Appraisal Tool from that used to measure CSR will be observed by focusing on the impact the relevant projects have on the community and the SMEs’ corporate objectives. The study commenced in 2019. In 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 as a worldwide pandemic, which had a great impact on businesses and their philanthropic activities. It is for this reason that the researcher also included a research objective to address this phenomenon. The study aimed to gain an understanding of the influence that the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic had on company decision making with regards to philanthropic activities. Research Design A phenomenological approach was undertaken, given the unique pandemic situation and the need to gain a deep understanding of the experience and decision making of SME entrepreneurs and managers. Data collection was undertaken via in-depth, semi-structured interviews and observations within eight small and medium companies and one large corporate (key informant). The study identified the definitions of SCP that set it apart from CSR. The study also investigated how entrepreneurs and SME decision makers appraised and managed CSR projects and identified if this was undertaken separately from philanthropic activities. Qualitative data analysis was undertaken via cognitive mapping and template analysis. Findings This research echoed Kubíčková’s (2018) review of the current literature relating to SCP. Kubíčková stated that turning corporate philanthropy into measurable projects will benefit both society and corporations alike, and this seems to have been confirmed by this research. The respondents in this study felt that their philanthropic activities were driven by a deep-seated desire to “do good” and a desire to “support their local community.” They felt that their local community was an important stakeholder and as important as their customers. The data indicated that SMEs that publicised their CSR and SCP activities seemed to have a positive effect on the SME’s company and on the organisations they supported. Respondents involved their staff with all their CSR and SCP activities, from inception through to completion. The research indicated that the pandemic had a great effect on the day-to-day business of all participants, affecting staff numbers, staff morale and income, which in turn influenced their philanthropic activities. Companies adapted by adjusting their resource allocation and by focusing on local causes. Companies that held fundraising events in the past reverted to hosting online events and sponsoring local projects and clubs. The data indicated that COVID-19 had urged people to take a closer look at their own neighbours and communities and that the focus moved away from supporting international causes in favour of local community causes. This could have a knock-on effect for the income streams of international charities. Recommendations Key recommendations of this study (Chapter 7) are as follows: • Charities should build relationships with SMEs and not just larger corporates. • National and international charities are advised to establish community projects and team up with local businesses and organisations. • Government should consider reinstating the mandatory reporting of corporate giving (as part of the Companies Act), as was the case in 2013. • The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) could be simplified for use by SMEs. • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Strategic Corporate Philanthropy (SCP) could be defined and managed separately for better results and impact. This study found that most literature (both academic and practice) relating to CSR and SCP mostly focused on larger corporates and not on SMEs. The study found a gap in the literature with regards to defining, managing, and appraising SCP from the perspective of an SME. Originality The originality and distinctiveness of this research project is found in the development of a bespoke SCP Appraisal Tool for SMEs and the research done relating to corporate giving by SMEs during the COVID-19 pandemic, as this has never been done before.
CitationRobberts, T. (2022). SME Corporate Philanthropy (CP): Exploring how CP is managed and appraised for its impact on communities [Unpublished doctoral thesis]. University of Chester.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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