How Businesses Can Take Climate Action with Corporate Philanthropy

Every business shares a universal truth, regardless of their industry or product type: businesses exist — and thrive — because of resources taken from our planet.

In this way, the Earth is an essential partner that every business needs to survive. But unlike other partnerships, this relationship tends to be one-sided; the Earth gives these organizations the resources they need to grow, and businesses often fail to reciprocate equally.

Corporate philanthropy — specifically with environmental nonprofits — presents an opportunity for businesses to pay this "earth tax", forging a symbiotic relationship with the planet that sustains them. In this article, we'll explore how businesses can leverage corporate philanthropy to take action on climate change in the most impactful way possible.

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Why is corporate philanthropy so effective?

As a corporate citizen of the world, allocating your businesses' resources to environmental nonprofits enables the direct action that's needed to help our protect our planet. While your business may not have the time and expertise to lead ocean cleanup projects or advocate for more sustainable legislation, the support you give via corporate philanthropy enables nonprofit organizations to continue their vital work.

Moreover, corporate philanthropy can help businesses achieve their strategic goals, including:


How to get started with corporate philanthropy

While corporate philanthropy can be as simple as writing a one-off check to a nonprofit, forging lasting relationships with nonprofit partners allows businesses to maximize their environmental impact and achieve their long-term strategic goals. Here are our top tips for getting started:


Step one: Define your values


It's important to remember that environmental giving can span numerous issue areas. Thus, you'll want to start this journey by examining what matters most to your organization: is it reducing single-use plastics? Reforesting our natural spaces? Protecting our waterways? Combating climate injustice? 

For inspiration, you can look to your mission statement, industry challenges, culture code, product goals and employee passions. Defining your values early on will help you find the right partner that shares your long-term vision.


Step two: Envision your partnership


Once you've solidified your values, it's time to envision how your ideal partnership will look. There are numerous ways you can support nonprofits with corporate philanthropy, including monetary donations, corporate volunteering and in-kind product donations; finding the right mix for both you and your partner will be key. Some guiding questions to ask yourself include:

  • Where do you want to have an impact? (locally, regionally, nationally or globally?)
  • Would you prefer to be highly engaged and collaborative with your partner or more “hands-off”?
  • How would you like your employees to be involved with this partnership?


Step three: Find a partner


Now that you've outlined your ideal partnership, it's time to start looking for a partner! This step can be overwhelming; there are hundreds of thousands of environmental nonprofits to consider, and finding "the one" is no small task.

To stay focused during your search, keep in mind your guiding values and ideal partnership. Additionally, you'll want to consider:

  • If the nonprofit can demonstrate their impact through tangible metrics
  • If the nonprofit is willing to collaborate on special projects or events
  • If the nonprofit will work with you to determine how your donation is spent


Wielding your power to protect the planet

Businesses are in a unique position to enable meaningful climate action with corporate philanthropy. At 1% for the Planet, we help businesses craft impactful giving strategies and forge long-term, strategic partnerships with nonprofit partners across numerous environmental issue areas.

To learn more about how to get started with corporate giving with 1% for the planet, download our free guide Getting Started with 1% for the Planet.

getting started with 1% for the planet