• Amanda Sartor

Philanthropy – Insights from a CEO Round table Discussion

EWM Group / GivingSimple is delighted to have recently hosted a highly interactive and insightful CEO round table discussion on aligning philanthropic and business objectives.

To spur the conversation and recognising his successful track record in growing Silverchef, we invited Allan English to share his own journey on building Silverchef into a social purpose organisation and integrating his personal philanthropy to support his company’s mission.

The night was a great success and provided much ‘food for thought” for all who attended. Some of the common themes during the night included:

  • There is growing pressure from shareholders, customers and institutional clients for companies to demonstrate a clear and tangible CSR and philanthropic strategy.

  • Many executives and owners find it difficult to properly measure and communicate their social impact and further support is needed.

  • Executives continue to struggle to find the “right balance” between shareholder expectations and being a good corporate citizen. - (Although, Allan’s compelling evidence on Silverchef’s exceptional market growth (ten-fold in 7 years) is testament to how much a social purpose organisation delivers shareholder growth!).

In addition, a set of “success factors” were identified during our discussions, which provide a great foundation to build a successful philanthropic strategy supporting business growth.

  • Tell stories – an impactful philanthropic strategy is only as good as the people who know about it and are emotionally connected. Focus on building an integrated communications strategy (both internally and externally) which tells powerful stories.

  • “What is the pebble in your shoe?” – to make it easier to find causes that your organisation, employees and stakeholders are most passionate about, Allan often starts with the question “What is the pebble in your shoe?”. Think about what issues really hit your buttons or make you uncomfortable (i.e. refugees, child illness, natural disaster etc.) and explore from there.

  • Seek strong connections - focus on causes and charitable organisations where the business has a strong value alignment and employees have a close connection – seek feedback.

  • There must be personal ownership and authentic leadership – people will follow those who they believe in and are inspired by. Organisational leaders need to believe and commit to their philanthropic strategy –talk about it and act on it often.

  • Focus on your “lighthouse on top of the hill” - organisations that have a bold vision or big audacious social goal can really inspire and drive staff to participate.

  • Build a strong company value set first – by first ingraining the company values into each employee; a company’s philanthropic program is more likely to be embraced by employees, as they identify the program with the company values.