National Capital Chapter

Things to remember before your corporation makes a donation

By Michelle Sindyukov

Given the current Russian invasion of Ukraine, there’s an urgent need for more financial and humanitarian support for the innocent civilians who are left without basic needs and the 2+ million refugees who have fled the country. Corporations are in a unique position to create positive change that will have a lasting impact on the lives of many Ukrainian people.

Displaced individuals and those who are still in Ukraine are watching their country get destroyed. The men and women in their lives are fighting, their infrastructure is crumbling, their homes are demolished, and millions of people are left without medications, food, and even water.

For companies touting ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) as important to them, now is the time to put money into action.

Before donating to Ukraine, it’s important for corporate leaders to ensure any contribution is effective, humane, and authentically connected to  your company’s values and goals.

Here are some tips to consider before taking philanthropic actions to help Ukraine:

  1. Be genuine. – Statements expressing support or care for the Ukrainian people, without also making a financial contribution or taking other meaningful action to help, will be read by many as hollow. Large corporations with deep pockets that limit their support to posting #StandwithUkraine without doing more may be asked, “How much do you really care?”
  2. Remember your corporate values when picking a cause to donate to.This is important. Ask yourself, will this cause align with what we stand for? American Express values include “Do What is Right,” and they are using it as a guiding principle for their actions and donations.
  3. Ensure you’re partnering with trustworthy organizations.  Unfortunately there’s a lot of fraud in the world looking to take advantage of terrible situations, so before you commit to making a donation on behalf of your brand, make sure that the organization you’re supporting is verified. Here’s a list of some verified organizations.
  4. Be generous with your giving. Your generosity could save lives. Making too small of a donation, or not donating at all, could result in criticism from your employees and customers. Nissan, for example, created a €2.5 million fund to support the humanitarian crisis.
  5. Offer corporate matching. Your employees want to feel like you’re doing this together. This works especially well for smaller companies who might not be able to make an enormous donation. By matching your employees’ donations, you’re doubling the impact. Unity, the gaming company, had 2000+ employees and leaders donate $1.2 million to support Ukraine and their CEO personally matched each employee’s donation.
  6. Create volunteer opportunities and involve your staff. Your employees are likely to want to make an impact beyond donations. By partnering with organizations currently helping Ukraine, you can find ways that your team can volunteer in a pro bono capacity. Your employees will remember that you gave them the time to make a positive impact.
  7. Remember in-kind donations.  If your company produces basic goods or medications, those contributions can make an even larger impact. In addition to a $5 million donation and unlimited matching for employees, Johnson & Johnson is providing product donations including hygiene kits, health packets, and medical supplies.
  8. Be human and be humble. Of course you should share that you’re making an impact and encourage others to join you in philanthropic giving. However, launching an ad campaign around your donation (especially if the campaign cost more than the donation) might be met with criticism.

Michelle “Mischa” Sindyukov is an Associate Director at Finsbury Glover Hering. She specializes in corporate communications, campaigns, international new business, events and corporate communications for global corporations.