Executive Forums Madison

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Renaissance Executive Forums is the one place that Madison's business leaders can convene to learn from each other and sharpen their CEO skill sets: leading their teams and their businesses to success, discussing confidential business solutions to current challenges, and exploring executive leadership on a whole new level. Invited members have access to executive business coaching and trusted peer-advice forums, all led by nationally recognized quality assurance and business process expert, Dr. Kiu Leung.

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"My Renaissance membership is unquestionably the most significant tool I have used to manage the rapid growth of Juliska’s business, which has more than tripled in the 2 ˝ years since I joined. The members of our forum have become my de-facto business advisers. We have a unique atmosphere of support,..."

David Gooding

Balancing Philanthropy and Cash Flow to Become a Stronger Business

Many progressive business owners know the value of corporate philanthropy and support it through tax-havens and public broadcasts of goodwill, though there are many who cast sidelong cynical glances at what they see as a potentially disingenuous tax-deductible way to advertise your business. It’s the potential hypocrisy that gives many business owners pause before committing to strong philanthropic efforts and while there are many visibility and reputation-lifting benefits that can accompany charitable contributions, there’s much more to it. In today’s values-driven economy, companies are linking their charitable contributions to “competitive context”, so that there’s a much stronger balance between the social and business benefits of their philanthropic efforts. The results of this context-mapping with philanthropy are significant, as more mission-aligned employees come to work for the companies who do this, investors are happier with the dual returns, reputations rise and profits follow.

The economist Milton Friedman laid down the gauntlet decades ago, arguing in a 1970 New York Times Magazine article that the only “social responsibility of business” is to “increase its profits.”  And though many corporations in today’s shifting economy agree with him, the tide is turning away from ad hoc individual charitable efforts towards more organized, thoughtful and purposeful philanthropic partnerships.

Harvard Business Review examined the common corporate philanthropy approach to uncover the competitive advantage in “another, more truly strategic way to think about philanthropy. Corporations can use their charitable efforts to improve their competitive context —the quality of the business environment in the location or locations where they operate. Using philanthropy to enhance context brings social and economic goals into alignment and improves a company’s long-term business prospects—thus contradicting Friedman’s first assumption. In addition, addressing context enables a company not only to give money but also to leverage its capabilities and relationships in support of charitable causes. That produces social benefits far exceeding those provided by individual donors, foundations, or even governments. Context-focused giving thus contradicts Friedman’s second assumption as well.”

HBR observed that mobilizing companies behind social causes that both mattered to them and were aligned with their business mission was essentially a match made in heaven. They termed this a “convergence of interests” which is a balance between altruism and capitalism, values and profit, mission and money. The idea is that there’s a win-win sweet spot for companies who can benefit both social and economically from philanthropic involvement.

“Business leaders today are smart enough to acknowledge and appreciate the visibility that can be had through charitable work and there’s an exponential value-added if the philanthropic work matches the business mission,” said Dr. Kiu Leung, executive coaching and forums leader for Renaissance Executive Forums in Madison, Wisconsin. “Employees nearly demand that the companies they work for fit their social values first, and their economics second. Many consumers are examining the businesses they spend money with under the same microscope. Businesses who can strike a balance between the social impact investment for the community and the economic benefit for the company are seeing significant returns.” The employee factor is a big one, as Entrepreneur points out: “Philanthropy as a core value promotes employee engagement. It infuses passion in those around you. It gives employees more energy and drive. After all, who doesn’t want to be a part of something bigger?”

But where to start? According to the Huffington Post “Every business will have a variety of ways to develop a charitable mission. Whether you are trying to raise money for a good cause, do something positive for the environment or support local communities, no act of kindness is too small.” For example, REACH-A-Child is a charitable organization that equips squad cards and emergency vehicles with a First Responder REACH BAG, which contains 20 children’s books and drawstring backpacks that can be given out to calm and distract a child during a crisis response. It’s a small thing to offer a child a book to read and a bag to keep their personal belongings close to them, but it establishes the opportunity to trust that routines and small comforts still hold fast in moments of crisis, and life can get back to “normal” on the other side of tragedy. The business leadership and peer advisory group Renaissance Executive Forums out of Madison is partnering with REACH-A-Child for an upcoming business learning session on trust, and for the business event the registration fee is a donation to REACH-A-Child. It’s a small act, a minor amount, but a strong pairing of business purpose and social benefit.

REACH-A-Child is about literally reaching a child in that moment where they could withdraw, and non-profit organizations like Outward Bound swing the commitment pendulum to the other extreme when they state their mission of “changing lives through challenge and discovery.” Whether the impact is for a brief moment, or for a lifetime, businesses are getting involved to create impact, for themselves and the communities they touch. 
“There’s no greater feeling, no greater satisfaction, than knowing you’re making a difference. But giving back to your community is also good for business. Think about it. Philanthropy helps build relationships with clients and potential clients. It helps build and support your brand. It promotes employee engagement. And let’s face it: good corporate citizens want to do business with others who share their values.”  Read article

The communication of the difference you can make, of the feelings that inspire, of the participation needed, feeds the cycle again and again. They say that small acts of charity and kindness are contagious, and that these small acts are basically viral, inspiring more and grander giving. They can, if the emotional connection is deep enough, and the societal benefit is obvious enough. 

Multitudes of companies are participating in philanthropic programs, but many lack the balance of social and business equity. Often charitable donations are considered a waste of money, or a black hole of financial need, but the businesses who are finding the right balance are discovering that the right philanthropic partnerships can be a smart investment that pays off both socially and financially over time.

Per the above mention of the learning session on trust, business leaders in Madison who are interested in exploring trust and the critical role it plays in business today should consider attending the upcoming CEO Learning Session: Building Trust on October 2, 2018 at the Fluno Center. 

Renaissance Executive Forums is the one place that Madison’s business leaders can convene to learn from each other and sharpen their CEO skill sets: leading their teams and their businesses to success, discussing confidential business solutions to current challenges, and exploring executive leadership on a whole new level. Invited members have access to executive business coaching and trusted peer advice forums, all led by nationally-recognized quality assurance and business process expert, Dr. Kiu Leung. For more information visit our website or call 608-826-7488.

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