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5 Ways to Create Competitive Advantage through Corporate Philanthropy

Have you ever wondered if the money you are investing in corporate philanthropy is really doing your business any good? The link can seem rather weak and distant, but it does not have to be that way. Philanthropy can improve your competitive position in the AEC industry, while also improving your community.

Corporate philanthropy has never been just about giving for the “feel good” factor. There is always something to be gained in return, such as public relations opportunities, reputation, and tax benefits. However, strategic giving can go much further by improving competitive context – the quality of the business environment you operate in. This concept was introduced by Michael Porter and Mark Kramer in the December 2002 Harvard Business Review. Competitive context says companies do not function in isolation from their communities, and strategic giving can improve a company’s competitive position by aligning social and economic goals.

One of the best ways to achieve this alignment, particularly for companies in the AEC industry, is by focusing corporate philanthropy on advanced and technical education. The ManpowerGroup 2015 Talent Shortage Survey reports skilled trades and engineers rank number 1 and 3 in the hardest to fill jobs globally, making finding good people one of the greatest challenges facing AEC industry firms today.

It just makes sense then to invest your philanthropic dollars in an area that will provide clear economic benefit by increasing and improving your pool of skilled workers, as well as improving your reputation and potentially providing tax benefits. But how?

The top 5 ways AEC industry firms can improve their competitive position through strategic giving to higher education institutions.

1. Provide support and incentives, such as paid time off for senior staff to take on adjunct-professor or instructor roles, teaching in local faculties whose graduating students your company will one day hire. This allows the company to have a head start on identifying and courting the cream of the crop, ahead of the other firms. It also increases employee morale and the local reputation of the firm.

2. Participate in co-op work experience programs with local colleges and universities. Having early access to the student population can reduce future recruiting costs, and again, provide the first opportunity to identify and court the best students.

3. Encourage and support employee involvement on committees, providing industry feedback to local faculties that are training the students you will be hiring. This allows your firm to influence course curricula and content so you can hire graduates with the skills you need to be competitive.

4. Provide grants for research projects focused on areas that could provide benefit to your firm, or to help local institutions improve the course curricula, or provide scholarships for the faculties you will be hiring from.

5. Provide in-kind donations to improve the education experience. This could be excess technical equipment and Tools, or technical training resources. An innovative way to do this is by purchasing larger quantities than needed to obtain volume discounts and then donating the excess. Done strategically, this can save you cash, provide a tax deduction, and bring your company closer to institutions training your future workforce.

When you do this with your Global eTraining investment, you get the added bonus of providing your staff with industry-leading online, on-demand training, ensuring your competitive advantage today – and into the future.

Reach out to me, or your Global eTraining contact, to learn how your company can take advantage of this opportunity for competitive advantage today.