I interviewed Roslyn Parker who discussed Corporate Philanthropy.
Before we start, can you provide a brief background of yourself?
Well, I am sitting right now in Houston, so I have been in the Houston market for about two years. I have approximately over 25 years of sales and sales-leadership experience, primarily in the areas of advertising. I have worked for several major companies, including Time Warner, Home Box Office, Verizon, as well as Dex Media. I have a pretty varied background in terms of advertising, in publishing, of course print media, cable television, and digital media.
My first question is: What is corporate philanthropy and why is it important?
From my perspective, being in the sales arena for over 20 years and having worked for several major companies, corporate philanthropy and corporate responsibility, social responsibility, was something that was very, very important to them. As an individual who believes in giving back and being of service as an employee of those companies, it gave me a sense of loyalty and a sense that these companies are really in alignment with who I am fundamentally. As an employee on the inside of companies that have foundations and who contributed in a big way, this is something that was very, very important to me.
As I crafted my own business as a marketer, I thought it just made perfect sense for me to create a business that would help corporations to align themselves in a philanthropic way by participating in marketing and events and activities that benefited humanity or social cause of some kind. From a personal standpoint, it is very, very important to me because I believe in being in service and I’ve served on several boards and I’ve been a volunteer for over 20 years in a variety of capacities.
For corporations, I think now more than ever, it is something that is extremely necessary and a very viable part of a corporation’s business. It really allows corporations to show their hearts. Instead of it just being about the bottom line, it shows that they’re interested in the communities that they serve, they’re interested in the communities where they do business, they’re interested in their employees. It kind of closes the gap and personalizes the corporation in some way.
Obviously, philanthropy has been going on for a number of years, but I think you just see it, as opposed to a company cutting a check, you see them far more engaged than you ever have before. I think now it has more relevancy and meaning.
How is it done effectively?
I think the most effective form of corporate philanthropy is one that comes from the bottom up in terms of really engaging the employees and treating them as key stakeholders in the process. When you have employees of an organization who are championing a cause, it just has more validity and more meaning. When companies are able to create systems that allow their employees to get involved, it’s even more meaningful.
For example, when I was at Verizon—Verizon had a foundation and several processes and ways employees could get involved. For that company, because I was on the advertising side, I was a part of Verizon information services at the time in the communications side, our primary causes the company would fund were causes that had to do with communication. Literacy was one piece of it, education, and then domestic violence because of its impact in the workplace.
As an employee, I saw areas of interest that aligned with what I was doing every day. We were providing information. We were in publishing, so it made sense that we were involved with literacy in some way. There were various campaigns and ways I could get involved as an employee—really, really get involved—at the local level. We could craft what was going on in our local communities as long as it was in alignment with the corporation’s overall objectives with the certain areas that they would fund and participate in.
As I became more and more involved with that as a champion, I was able to identify ways for Verizon to form partnerships. That really only can come from the individuals who live in those communities because they know the community, they know what’s going on, they know the pulse of what is needed. Funneling that information up—there were processes that we had that could be done.
We were supported from a financial standpoint; projects were supported. Philosophically, we were supported. We didn’t feel like it was just a song and dance that a corporation felt they had to do. It was something that was real and tangible and something that employees were involved in at a variety of levels.
The other corporations I’ve worked for, they’ve had some facet of corporate philanthropy, but Verizon by far, in my personal experience, had the most robust corporate-philanthropy programs.
Thanks, Roslyn. Did we cover all the points you wanted to discuss?
Yeah, we did.
Thank you again for sharing.
Thank you. I’ll look for your blog.
About Roslyn Parker
Experienced Marketer and Social Entrepreneur