Reprint from the Boston Business Journal | October 24, 2008
Philanthropy File | Mary Moore
With Boston struggling to retain young professionals, the University of Massachusetts-Boston’s Emerging Leaders program found that corporate philanthropy might just be the way to keep them here.
Seven teams of Emerging Leaders explored whether civic engagement could be the glue to bond peers their age to the Boston region.
Massachusetts lost 300,000 residents between 2000 and 2007, many of them between 25 and 40 years old, said Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University.
The Emerging Leaders project was not about young professionals gathering on Saturday mornings at a soup kitchen, albeit commendable volunteerism, but rather exploring how they can leverage their executive-level skills and apply them to the nonprofit sector.
The teams each worked on different niche projects with various corporate and nonprofit partners, ranging from The Bank of New York Mellon and the Massachusetts Business Roundtable to Hunt Alternatives and the Catalogue for Philanthropy.
Not surprising, the 49 Emerging Leaders found that, based on their own experience, corporate philanthropy does create networks that could help retain young professionals, especially when they collaborate with colleagues from other organizations.
“We did our own debrief on the projects, and they definitely said, ‘I have a whole different view of what my career could look like with civic engagement woven into it,’ ” said Maureen Scully, assistant professor of management at UMass-Boston and a faculty affiliate for the Emerging Leaders.
“One of the things we’re puzzling about is what creates retention in organizations and in the region. Why does Boston bleed young professionals? Philanthropy bonds them here and the chance to work in cross sector teams,” she said.
The team members who worked with the Catalogue for Philanthropy came from banking, finance, media, government, the nonprofit sector and education. Together, they helped develop marketing plans for two products the organization is about to launch: an educational book that looks at the definition and roots of philanthropy and a Web directory to help the public navigate charitable organizations.
Emerging Leaders recommended the Catalogue for Philanthropy to move in the direction of a Web directory – and quickly.
“What we found is that it’s the right time for CFP to be doing something like this,” said Michelle Caldeira, an Emerging Leader and director of corporate and foundation relations for the Pine Street Inn.
Bridget Hindle, director of organizational and professional development for Sovereign Bank, was among the six Emerging Leaders who worked with the Mass. Business Roundtable to update best practices for corporate social responsibility.
Encouraging more companies to implement those best practices is how corporate philanthropy could make the kind of impact the Emerging Leaders envision.
“Companies really find the value in being strong corporate citizens, but the majority of them don’t have formal programs,” said Hindle. “Corporations really need to look at the future and look at the workforce and what the workforce is going to be looking for.”
For many small businesses nationwide, the current economic turmoil is limiting their ability to make charitable contributions, but the turmoil has not entirely closed their checkbooks to nonprofit organizations.
A survey of more than 1,000 small businesses located in cities across the country showed that 38 percent of them contributed less in the past year. Yet, 47 percent said they gave the same amount and 14 percent donated more.
Conducted for the Chronicle of Philanthropy and Advanta Bank Corp., the study of small businesses — defined as those with fewer than 500 employees and annual revenue between $100,000 and $250,000 — was conducted by Chamberlain Research Consultants.
The median small business contribution to charity last year was between $500 and $2,000 in cash.
Sixty-six percent of the small businesses included in the survey said they make cash contributions, 51 percent volunteer, 41 percent provide pro bono services and 39 percent contribute products.
Social-service nonprofits were the biggest winners among small businesses, garnering 62 percent of the contributions. Education initiatives, health charities, arts institutions and environmental causes also received small business support.
Mary Moore covers nonprofit organizations and philanthropy.
copyright 2008 UMass Boston Center for Collaborative Leadership
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