Breakthrough Leadership Strategies in a Socially Responsible Era

Aug. 11, 2009
In an economy where every penny counts, it's definitely worth it businesses to continue their philanthropic donations. Here's why!

Strategic Philanthropy and Your Bottom Line

by Todd Thomas, PhD

Are socially responsible companies more successful? Research indicates yes. A Junior Achievement Worldwide 2009 Summary Report notes, "Research shows there is a direct correlation between active community outreach programs with increased revenues, and customer loyalty for businesses that engage in helping their communities."

In an economy where every penny counts, is it worth it for businesses to continue their philanthropic donations?

“Not only is it worth it, it's more necessary than ever," explains corporate leadership development specialist Todd Thomas, PhD, MS, MA. "Tough economies drive short-term decisions, which ultimately have long-term consequences. The question becomes: How do we keep up with donations without going broke?"

In tough economic times, businesses are cutting back on expenditures not directly necessary to the survival of their business. This includes employee training seminars, community donations, and more. But are companies that continue their community activism programs more profitable than the ones that don't? Is there a way to make charity donations more affordable?

Thomas believes there is. He suggests post-recession philanthropy, which blends management training with non-traditional donations

He notes, "An emerging corporate trend blends social responsibility programs with employee training seminars. This is the new ‘post-recession’ way to offset the costs of community support and train your employees at the same time, cutting out expensive corporate seminars.

"In these economic times, organizations are cutting back on training and development as well as on their traditional donations and community support, and that's a big mistake," he continued. "It's critical to a business' bottom line to continue training employees, and now there's a way to do it through charitable donation programs.

"By creatively combining the desire to be socially responsible with the need to develop leaders, companies can achieve both objectives at once," Thomas explained. "Through leadership development activities that are tied to social responsibility, companies can provide a unique opportunity for meeting development needs and supporting the community at a fraction of the cost of the past. It's a win-win for everyone."

Socially responsible team building encourages employee volunteering. "Take a leadership team to a typical two-day retreat,” Thomas said. “Rather than doing the traditional experiential exercises that everyone’s familiar with, such as role-playing, building a tower, and others, partner with a non-profit organization to do something REAL on their behalf. Arrange for tangible projects to be done in the community, and build team and leadership components at the same time. Simulate the workshop activities through real world tasks that benefit a non-profit organization in your community."

"Creating leadership development activities that are tied to social responsibility is the future of Corporate Philanthropy," Thomas stresses. "Tough times call for ingenuity, and this is exactly what companies are doing. Non-traditional philanthropy provides a unique opportunity to meet development needs while supporting the community at a fraction of the cost of the past. “

Todd Thomas holds a PhD in human communication, masters in educational psychology, and masters in interpersonal communication. He was a professor of organizational psychology at North Carolina State University and is the Founder of IMPACT Consulting and Development, LLC, and the Global Leadership Columnist for He is an international speaker who provides seminars and presentations in over 20 countries that enable leaders to create change for impact. He is a member of the National Speakers Association, the International Federation of Speakers, and the Les Brown Platinum Speakers Network. Contact him at