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  • Writer's pictureCaterina Sullivan

What is Corporate Philanthropy and How Does it Work?

Updated: Nov 4, 2018

Before writing this article, the Sustainably Strategic team researched definitions of the word philanthropy as it is a word which is commonly used in sustainability but often means different things to different people and organisations.

At Strategic Sustainability Consultants, we define philanthropy as the act of donating money towards a cause related to economic, social and environmental sustainability.

Therefore, we define corporate sustainability as the act of donating partial or total company profits towards a cause related to economic, social and environmental sustainability whether it is done by making a cash donation or by buying a product to donate directly to a cause.

Here are some key statistics we have compiled on corporate philanthropy.


In 2016, American businesses gave US$18.55 billion (AU$23.2 billion) in corporate philanthropy. This is 0.001% of GDP.

Corporate philanthropy in America rose by 3.5% from 2015 to 2016.


In the 2015 / 2016 financial year, Australian businesses gave AU$17.5 billion (US$14 billion) in corporate philanthropy. This is 0.0117% of GDP, more than 10 times the contribution from American businesses.

Large businesses gave approximately AU$9 billion (US$7.2 billion), and SMEs gave approximately AU$8.5 billion (US$6.8 billion).

Out of the charities which donated money, over 99% of those businesses were SMEs. The remaining 0.2% were large businesses.


Corporate philanthropy begins at the most important part of a business' sustainability commitment - its values. The cause to which a business makes the decision to donate part of its profits needs to line up with the business' values. A business may also set certain criteria which a not-for-profit would need to meet in order to receive donations from that business.

In order to start your business on its journey of corporate philanthropy, contact our team today!

This article was originally published on the Strategic Sustainability Consultants website.

#sustainablystrategic #corporatesocialresponsibility

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