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Building the Appropriate Structure. Structural Models. Companies have several options to consider when developing their structural model: Corporate Foundation Corporate Giving Program Community Foundation

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structural models
Structural Models

Companies have several options to consider when developing their structural model:

  • Corporate Foundation
  • Corporate Giving Program
  • Community Foundation

Many companies use a combined approach – a corporate giving program might focus on donations that might be perceived as self-dealing under foundation rules such as event tickets, or marketing-related approaches; the foundation might focus on the primary program areas.

structural models1
Structural Models

The following provides some background information on the different models

structural models2
Structural Models

Pros and cons of a corporate foundation*

*Source - San Diego Grantmakers website: Pros and cons of corporate foundations

structural models3
Structural Models

Decentralized Model

Centralized Model

Hybrid Model

structural models4
Structural Models

Benefits of the different models:

decentralized model
Decentralized Model

In a decentralized model, each region makes grants according to needs/expectations of priority stakeholders.

centralized model
Centralized Model

In a centralizedmodel, HQ determines strategic priorities and regional offices follow guidelines provided by HQ.

hybrid model
Hybrid Model

In a hybridmodel, HQ determines strategic priorities, but local offices have flexibility to align with corporate priorities and to address regional stakeholder needs.


A critical issue for any model relates to governance: how can the internal governance structure be designed to ensure the development of strategic programs, the leveraging of internal resources, and the ability to move quickly and nimbly. Specifically, a governing body should have:

  • A structure that enables the corporation to take advantage of opportunities quickly
  • Responsibility for approving corporate giving policies, procedures and budgets – including those of the foundation (if one exists)
  • Members who can manage sensitive issues, anticipate crises, and develop response strategies
  • Members who understand the demographics and dynamics of the community
  • Access to the CEO, senior management and community resources

Decision-making body

Advisory/Steering Committee

Corporate Giving Staff

staff skill requirements
Staff Skill Requirements

Corporate giving staff need a range of skills to effectively develop and manage corporate giving programs. Specifically, corporate giving staff must be able to:

  • Understand the business and develop a strategic vision that meets the rising expectations of stakeholders
  • Engage and build relationships with a wide range of stakeholders – from senior leaders to managers to priority external stakeholders
  • Build systems and develop a framework for capturing results for a variety of programs and at varying levels for stakeholders
  • Develop communication systems that educate and update all stakeholders
corporate giving competencies skills1
Corporate Giving Competencies & Skills

Adaptive Capacity: The ability to monitor, assess, and respond to internal forces within the company and external changes in the operating environment

Leadership Capacity: The ability of department leader(s) to create and sustain strong relationships with key stakeholders, educate and inspire others, prioritize goals, garner resources for the department, and provide direction on programs

Management Capacity: The ability to develop and run successful programs

Operational Capacity:The ability to carry out key departmental and programmatic functions

adaptive capacity
Adaptive Capacity

Alignment and integration with business

  • Connections to other key departments (marketing, government relations, CSR, HR, etc.)
  • Alignment with related firm efforts (i.e. CSR goals)

Continuous monitoring of internal forces and external trends

  • Awareness of major company goals and plans
  • Understanding of external operating environment (i.e. economy)
  • Monitoring of trends and best practices in the field of corporate community involvement
  • Ongoing evaluation of programs

Knowledge of key players

  • Strategic alliances formed with community groups and key opinion leaders
  • Strategic alliances within the company
assessing adaptive capacity
Assessing Adaptive Capacity

Alignment and integration with business

  • Is there a system in place for the CCI department to interface and work with related departments (HR, CSR, Public Affairs, Gov’t Relations)
  • Does the CCI department have a clear understanding of the goals and major programs of these departments and other key business units?

Continuous monitoring of internal forces and external trends

  • Does the CCI department stay up to date on major company goals and plans (i.e. expansion, new products, etc.)?
  • To what extent are department leaders aware of major trends in the economy or market that will affect the company in the near and long term?
  • How often does the department evaluate programs and does it use that information for planning and continuous improvement?

Knowledge of key players

  • Does the department know who they should be getting input from within the company? Outside the company?
leadership capacity
Leadership Capacity

Internal leadership

  • Strong relationships with internal stakeholders
  • Direct communication lines with senior leadership of company
  • Ability to bring resources and attention to departmental goals and efforts
  • Ability to set and carry out a strategic vision for the department and inspire staff

External leadership

  • Strong relationships with external stakeholders
  • Ability to prioritize key stakeholders for different initiatives
  • A network of other CCI leaders to learn from and benchmark against
assessing leadership capacity
Assessing Leadership Capacity

Internal leadership

  • What percentage of his/her time does the department leader or leaders spend on creating and maintaining relationships with key internal stakeholders?
  • How often does the department leader talk directly with the CEO or top senior management of the company? Under what circumstances?
  • Can all members of the department articulate the vision for CCI for the next 1 to 3 three years?

External leadership

  • How much of his/her time does the department leader spend on developing relationships with key external stakeholders?
  • To what extent does the department leader(s) have a network of CCI professionals with which to share and learn best practices?
  • Corporate Giving, Options and Strategies, by Sylvia Clark and Kate Dewey, Council on Foundations, 2008
  • TCC Website - – briefing papers and presentations
  • Weathering the Storm, The State of Corporate Citizenship in the United States 2009, Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship,