On May 16, 2019, the Chamber released How Employers Give: A Look at Philanthropy and Volunteerism in Philadelphia, a joint report with the Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia detailing how Philadelphia’s business community engages in philanthropy and the scale and scope of those philanthropic activities. From multinational corporations to scrappy startups, preeminent universities to public utilities, employers across the spectrum are working in their own ways to give back and improve the places in which we live, work, and play. The data and findings of this report provide a timely update of that activity in Philadelphia.

The Objective

The objective of this report is to better understand how the business community of Philadelphia engages in philanthropy, the scale and scope of those philanthropic activities, and the impact on communities of Philadelphia over recent years. This is the first effort in encouraging increased understanding of, reporting on, and participation in employer-supported philanthropic activities.

Key Takeaways

About a third of employers headquartered in Philadelphia direct 75-100% of giving to communities in the city of Philadelphia.

90%: Percentage of giving by employers headquartered in Philadelphia that benefits local nonprofit organizations.

Three-Year Monetary Donations that Benefited Nonprofits in Philadelphia

Employers headquartered in the city contributed $82.3 million of the $90.9 million total that benefited Philadelphia nonprofits. That’s 90%.

The employers based here care deeply about the city and want to play a role in addressing many of the city’s challenges—from improving schools, to addressing homelessness, to providing residents with job training and skills.

Senior leadership’s involvement is important.

52%: The number of employers who shared that their company’s philanthropic activity is overseen in part by its executive office. Other commonly reported departments included marketing and public relations, and community relations and civic affairs.

Department That Oversees Philanthropic Giving

Respondents shared that senior leadership has a critical influence in the company’s philanthropic activity. More than half of the employers surveyed stated that their executive office oversees aspects of the organization’s philanthropic activity.

Over 75% of employers reported that senior leadership involvement encourages employee involvement—and paired with the fact that only 10% reported that increased buy-in from the executive level would encourage more giving—it seems evident that buy-in is already quite strong.

Employers spread their giving across a large number of nonprofit organizations.

38%: The number of organizations surveyed that have supported more than 50 nonprofits in the past year.

Number of Nonprofits Supported in the Past Year

Given that employers cited improving community relations as one of their top five motivations for giving, it’s not surprising that more than a third of employers gave to over 50 nonprofits in the past year.

Employers who deliberately align their philanthropic activity with their organization’s mission and values see greater impact.

40%: The percentage of employers that noted that strategically aligning their philanthropic activity with their organization’s mission and operations would encourage them to give more.

What would encourage employers to give more?

Whether thinking more critically about how to use staff expertise or formalizing an evaluation process to better measure impact, companies that create a thoughtful strategy for their philanthropy state that they saw an increase in their giving.

Measuring is difficult—but vital.

63%: The number of employers that do measure their giving do so by analyzing how giving has contributed to their organization’s priorities.

Methods Used to Measure Impact

Tracking data and assessing impact is tough and time-consuming, and finding a method that works for a company is difficult. Nearly a quarter of companies do not employ any method of impact measurement, and numerous respondents were unable to share granular-level details about their activities. However, others shared that formalizing their tracking processes was a turning point in their philanthropy, and some even noted that doing so led to an increase in their giving from that point forward.

What’s next?

There is a vibrant trend of giving in Philadelphia—and a lot of it. Employer-supported giving is doing its part to affect change across the communities of Philadelphia, with support of both employers and employees. While there is a lot of philanthropic activity occurring, more can always be done. There is no shortage of challenges facing the city, but employers who have found ways to better their giving can be looked to for inspiration.

We envision that the findings of this study can serve as the first step toward understanding the breadth and impact of employer-supported giving in the city. The stories shared here offer just a snapshot into the larger community of philanthropy in Philadelphia. In future iterations of this study, we hope to increase participation and be responsive to the interests of respondents and readers, refine our process, and deepen our knowledge in a way that facilitates opportunity, brings practitioners together, and inspires even greater philanthropic activities in Philadelphia.