[ Keidanren ] [ Policy ] [ 1% Club (in Japanese) ]

Analysis Based on the Categorization of Philanthropic Activities of Forty-seven Companies
published in "The Philanthropic Ideas which Have Added New Values to Companies"

(Tentative Translation)

Emiko Nagasawa

Social Affairs Bureau

In the separated list, examples of philanthropic activities of 47 companies are presented with the examples being categorized in seven groups. This categorization was adopted for the first time in the book titled "The Philanthropic Ideas which Have Added New Values to Companies." Up to now, corporate philanthropic activities were presented by "field", namely fields of activities such as nursing care, environment, arts and disaster relief. Only rarely the activities were classified by "action model" such as contributions, supply of know-how and volunteerism.
However, during preparation of the book, a consensus has been formed among corporate philanthropic managers who have been involved in the publication, to present the book to the reader in such a manner that the reader may understand the reason for and purpose of the programs. In other words, to present the examples by "intentions" or "aims" instead of traditional categorizations. In short, we wanted to emphasize the aim of the activities and the social values the activities intended to support and enhance.
Corporate philanthropy tends to be judged only by its appearance and society in general perceives it as something inorganic in nature. It is not easy for the society as a whole to see the underlying enthusiasm and desire of the philanthropy managers to make the activities meaningful for the society. Efforts and innovative actions of the managers are usually overlooked by the society. There are numerous issues and unlimited opportunities to serve in the society. However, it is impossible for one corporation to attack all the issues. Hence, the corporate philanthropy managers, after much pondering and discussions, create one aim, which becomes the main theme of the philanthropy. Based on this theme, the managers design programs with well defined fields of activities and action models with a concrete list of goals to be achieved.
This is why we decided to categorize examples with focus on the aims of the activities.

1. Support to Communities

The idea that "without vitality of communities, there is no vitality of corporations" had already been implanted by the early 1990s when each corporation was beginning to organize a unit in charge of philanthropy. Support for community youth athletic programs, donations for regular festivities, and assistance to museums and concert halls had been common practices of the corporations. However, those activities were in the scope of "formality" and the aims of philanthropy had not been clearly focused.
In the early 1990s, movements began to arise in which some corporations desired to engage in their own unique philanthropic activities with clearer purposes. For example, a parts-maker, which had a substantial number of local employees, decided to provide care for the elderly in their own community. After much negotiations and preparations, the company and the labor union created a unique support system for a NPO that provides home nursing care.
In another example, a certain trading firm realized that unlike a manufacturer, they do not have too many employees hired locally because they do not operate a large plant in the region. Only the headquarter building was known to the general public. So the company decided to invite community children to the building and have them understand what a company is and does by supporting the children to do their own summer projects. The company employees worked directly with the children. The management changed their thinking with the goal of increasing exchanges with local people, and by doing so they hoped to get rid of the dry image of the company whose only noticeable point was the tall building.
A trading company took the initiative, rather than just giving scholarships to students in Asian nations, to administer scholarship in such a manner that values the face-to-face communications with the students.
Yet another company got an idea to change its cold image in the town created by rows of office buildings by creating space to provide rest and comfort to people. To do this, they offered one room in the office building to a NPO. The NPO converted a room into a space where people can enjoy nature by reenacting sounds of birds singing and running streams. People have high hopes that this kind of space will change business districts into towns where people can actually imagine themselves in nature, enjoying birds singing and creeks running. This is a start for creating a new image in the town.
What is common to all these examples is the change from a passive to an active approach. The idea that "without vitality of communities, there is no vitality of corporations" is basically the same for passive or active approaches, but in order to provide vitality to the communities these companies have gone beyond mere formality. Corporations have turned around their thinking by taking initiatives and making proposals. This is a new movement born of trials and errors we went through in the 1990s.

2. Supporting Company Employees' Participation in Philanthropy

Philanthropy with an aim of supporting company employee participation in social activities was a major movement in the 1990s. This "aim" was clear from the beginning. Vitality, creativity and flexibility would be lost if the company employees were all similar and lacked in individuality. Some employees were also beginning to question whether they should or would spend days only as "company people."
Hence, efforts were made to open a way for company workers to participate as volunteers or as staff for NPO activities. Many corporations established volunteer time-off systems and matching gift programs. Moreover, information concerning NPO and volunteer activities was made available and opportunities for on-site experience were provided, which became a major force in assisting employees' participation in addition to establishment of the programs described above. Philanthropy managers of each company began introducing their employees to trust-worthy NPOs, which led to employees opening their eyes toward the challenges outside of their companies.
While we were putting our efforts into these activities, a new movement began to be formed. A philanthropy manager sought ways to help people needing wheelchairs to enjoy normal social lives. He began transport services for people in wheelchairs, taking them to movies, museums and shopping accompanied by friends or family members. Until then, these types of activities were considered "luxurious" and were not covered by public assistance programs. However, the manager did not agree. He thought such activities were fundamental human needs. Company employees volunteered to drive the vans. The satisfaction experienced by company employees that they were enabling the people in wheelchairs to enjoy the same type of activities as they do was significant. In this company, the employees think of and propose ways to enhance their services.
Other company wanted to make monetary donation an opportunity to open employees' eyes toward NPOs. In selecting recipients of donations, the employees actually visit the NPOs. As they visited these NPOs several times, their interests in what NPOs are doing grew to the point that they themselves began to desire to participate in the activities. This involvement has brought positive effects on employees. So, the company has established a program wherein the young workers in their 20s and 30s are even transferred temporarily to NPOs.
"Company Employees' Social Participation" has been a major theme of corporate philanthropy over the last ten years. New programs along this line will continue to be developed and expanded in the years to come.

3. Power in Persistence

Philanthropy is an activity for the corporation to carry out its duty as a part of the society, and it cannot be on a temporary basis. "Programs" may change from time to time, but the corporate "mission" should not change. Some companies have even tried their best to prevent the "programs" from changing. We decided to categorize these companies under "power in persistence." Here, the "aim" is to be persistent despite the changing conditions the companies are placed under.
A company feels that its philanthropic mission is to leave valuable research materials to the next generation. In order to preserve such efforts without being affected by management conditions of the company, it establishes an independent organization called a "foundation," through which financial support to researchers is given and storage, organization and publication of the precious documents would be continuously executed. By doing so, the foundation will accumulate knowledge, know-how, and human resources, and effective contributions will result.
When persistent efforts are made over a long period of time, contributions which were not expected at the beginning, often result. For example, a company recognized those who contributed to public health each year for over 50 years. From this, we can easily learn what kind of health problems the society has experienced and what actions have been taken for the problems over 50 years. Moreover, we can clearly see the changes in society where the urgent issues of public health are becoming strongly related to environmental issues.
In another example, collections of one architect's works became the focus of researchers worldwide and requests for exhibitions of the collection began to come from overseas, which was a totally unexpected turn of the gallery. These examples demonstrate the fact that as original projects are persistently continued and are made known to the outside world, the society begins to acknowledge their value and will support, expand, nurture and increase the value of such activities.

4. Utilization of Professional Skills and Knowledge

Corporations are where technology, know-how and human resources are gathered. It is natural that ideas are born to utilize the company's professional skills and knowledge for the benefit of the society. Technologies involving radar sensor and image processing skills based on personal computers are applied for the removal of land mines. Moreover, digital maps may be created from aerial photos, which in turn enables systematic land mine removal work. This type of philanthropy is nothing more than the accumulation and application of professional technologies.
There is a company which developed complex equipment combining copiers, printers and facsimiles for people with vision problems. Also another company is studying what types of explanations and displays are most effective in making science interesting to children.
Yet another company is putting Braille identification marks on products for the blind. A cosmetic company is making efforts to find ways for the elderly to enjoy make-up appropriate for them so that they can enjoy lives like the young. These are some of many examples of corporations coming up with creative ideas, small or large, to help the physically handicapped and the elderly.
We are often asked why companies want to apply professional technologies, but the only way we can answer that question is that it is natural to do so. Some questions companies' pure motives, saying that companies develop these philanthropic products with the hope of selling them and gaining returns. However, we do not know of any products which were developed from the beginning with a pay-off in mind. These products are nothing more than manifestation of the sense of the mission of those who are genuinely interested in philanthropy.
Moreover, this type of technology and product development starts not only from the philanthropy division but also from other divisions such as development and design. Corporate philanthropy managers have high hopes that other divisions in the corporations will come to their own sense of philanthropy. The responsibility of philanthropy is not only for the managers in charge of philanthropy, but should be shared by all the people in the company. Only when awareness of philanthropy is spread throughout the company, can we say that philanthropy is successful. This was the consensus for a philanthropic plan that did exist in the early 1990s. However, the plan itself is becoming a reality today. It is not rare nowadays that product design, development and sales divisions, without coordination by the philanthropy division, have joined their efforts together to produce barrier-free products for the handicapped.
Quite often corporate philanthropy managers make remarks that philanthropy using professional skills is easy to accomplish. They say that it is easy for employees and top management to understand why such activities are needed. It is not so difficult to gain support of shareholders. More and more, individual shareholders are heard to say that if the company is to contribute to the society, the philanthropic activities should be unique to "their company" or should be something they can be proud of. Philanthropy adds great motivation for the development division. The realization that engineers are actually developing something desired by the society gives them greater satisfaction. Many sales personnel also express their joy that thinking together with the handicapped what kind of products would be truly helpful for their lives is indeed the first principle of marketing.
As we have discussed above, philanthropy using professional skills will become even more important as the society gets more complicated each day. Philanthropy is an activity with much potential in the future.

5. Partnership with Different Organizations

Typical examples of organizations that are different from corporations are NPOs. Corporations exist to pursue profits, but non-profit organizations seek to accomplish their mission rather than seeking after profits. It is well known that in the natural science, contact between different materials sometimes results in the creation of a new material. The same can be said about human society. The period of time when the unity and conformity of employees is emphasized as a company strength is gone. Now, the strength comes from how much we can expose ourselves and learn from different ideas, organizations and behavior patterns. In other words, how well we can integrate differences and diversities is the key for strength.
Corporate philanthropy managers, who realized the change in perception of strength, began in the early 1990s actively contacting NPOs whose existence were diametrically opposite from corporations. Corporations, in the 1990s were run on the expectation that contact with NPOs would change their corporate culture and character By opening the corporate windows and welcoming the outside wind, many companies desired to change their culture, aiming to restore flexibility and creativity.
As the corporations and NPOs worked together for more than 10 years, resistance or hesitation by corporations to partner with NPOs gradually disappeared, and today we have a hard time finding large companies which have no contact with NPOs. This creates new development. Today, the corporations are no longer talking in terms of corporate reforms. They are striving, as part of normal activities, to cooperate with NPOs to effectively contribute to the society. A company, as it learned from NPOs about environment problems, decided to hold continuous public seminars so that the knowledge they gained may be shared with the general public. By holding these public seminars, the company accumulated more knowledge and created new ideas concerning the environment. This also heightens the interest of company employees. They gain confidence that "our" company will contribute to the society in the field of the environment. This even leads to development of eco-fund (social responsible investment focusing on companies' ecological performances), which will be promoted through the company's environment awareness campaign.
The vision of philanthropy is spreading beyond national boundaries. More and more companies are striving to contribute to Asian countries, their important market, using their own expertise. A food manufacturer tries to create international contribution programs with the theme of food. NPOs' knowledge and experience give insights to the company. In the Philippines, a project in which nutritional health education with the necessary materials being provided to support and enhance the activities of social service providers was established with joint efforts of a company, NPOs and the governmental organizations.
A Japanese auto-parts manufacturer, which was completely taken aback by the poor quality of wheelchairs in Thailand, invited several people, mostly handicapped, to Japan and helped them master wheelchair repair skills. This particular company established its own NPO. They decided that by establishing a NPO, the company can more effectively concentrate its energy and resources than running the program as a profit making organization. This demonstrates a new direction for the partnership between corporations and NPOs.
We also realize that intermediaries are indispensable for the steady growth of partnerships between corporations and NPOs. In the above examples, intermediaries constantly consulted with corporations and put their thoughts together to come up with the best ideas. In Japan, there are still but a few truly capable intermediaries. We feel that the development of able intermediaries is an important challenge in the future.

6. Investment for Future Society

All philanthropy activities are connected to the future society. The basic desire underlying philanthropy is to make the future society more attractive, more comfortable, more intelligent and more creative.
There are some companies that create programs based on their accurate assessment of the future including the changes in conditions, and the change in the human environment. For example, a company established a foundation aiming to promote and develop science and technology, but it has shifted its focus on the maintenance and improvement of the environment, realizing that the protection of earth's environment will be the most important task in the future.
Investment for future human resources is also very active. Some companies, thinking that providing intellectual opportunities for the youth is one of the most urgent tasks, create opportunities for students to work in NPOs that possess professional knowledge and skill, and pay for their work in the form of scholarships.
In Asia, a company invites "future leaders" from each country, and provided them with opportunities to share experiences such as group discussions on global common agenda and volunteer activities. Moreover, another corporation, starting with giving scholarships to foreign students studying in Japan, provided dormitories and mentors. In the dormitories, the foreign students have built relationship with the people in the communities by teaching them their mother languages.
There are some movements to provide opportunities for artists in new art forms. One example is an experiment whereby jazz and kyogen (Japanese traditional drama) are combined to produce new art. For a trial performance of the new art, the people in the community are invited as an audience.
Examples such as these, where corporations actively invest their resources with an aim of preparing for a new era in various fields including science and technology, human resources and arts, will be certain to increase. Companies spend money and resources not only to prepare themselves, but to prepare the entire society.
It is clear that companies are required to have a high level of professional knowledge and skill in order to make the kind of social investment described above. This includes knowledge about environmental problems, the ability to properly select NPOs with enough resources to provide intellectual works for students, keen insights to discern needs, both physically and mentally, of foreign students and the ability to provide opportunities accordingly, and the sensitivity to propose experiments for artists. Unless corporations have this kind of ability, any of the aforementioned programs will not be successful. These are promising activities and will lead the way in the future. It is our sincere hope that corporations will accumulate further knowledge and resources and appoint philanthropy managers accordingly.

7. Challenges for Management in Dealing with New Urgent Tasks

New light has been shed on philanthropy from the management point of view. Company management is beginning to see the effectiveness and usefulness of philanthropic activities for employees by increasing respect and pride for their company and in recognizing their roles in their company. A certain multinational company designed a program in which employee all around the world participate, for a predetermined period of time, in some type of volunteer activities in their communities.
Also a foreign-owned firm utilizes philanthropic activities as a means to nurture team spirit within the company. Various volunteer teams are organized within the company. Workers desiring to participate, including the top management, will select and register in the team of their choice using intranet. The team leader will send via intranet, a message welcoming the new members and information on the next activity. Commemorative banners will be sent separately to all the members each year. The goal here is certainly to strengthen bonding as workers in the same company and to foster team spirit which is the basis for the bonding. Some corporate management is beginning to see that it is possible to create a spirit of bonding with a different corporate structure than the traditional vertical structure based on commands.
Furthermore, there are some top management who are eagerly reporting activities to stakeholders including shareholders, clients, employees, suppliers, communities and NPOs in order to maintain corporate philanthropy. Corporate philanthropy is just starting. The time is just around the corner when top management will be fully involved and will make contributions to corporate philanthropy with their o own creative and innovative ideas.

The Examples of Philanthropic Programs of Forty-seven Companies

CompanyName of the Program
1. Support to Communities
Aisin Seiki Co., Ltd.ALL AISIN Supporting NPO's Activities Fund
Itochu CorporationSummer school classes at Itochu head office
Sumitomo CorporationSumitomo Corporation Scholarship
Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd.Soccer Clinic for the students of elementary schools and junior high schools
Toyota Motor CorporationThe Parent and Child Education / Toyota Families in Learning Program
Hino Motors, Ltd.Hino Motors Green Fund
Mitsubishi CorporationCommunity Involvement Program
Mitsubishi Estate Co., Ltd.Marunouchi Bird Song Plaza
2. Supporting Company Employees' Participation in Philanthropy
Asahi Mutual Life Insurance Company"Asahi-no-kyokin" fundraising campaign
Cosmo Oil Co., Ltd.Cosmo Waku Waku Camp
Sumitomo Marine & Fire Insurance Co., Ltd.Sumitomo Marine 100 Club
Sumitomo Life Insurance CompanyHumony (Human + Harmony) Program
The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Ltd.Smiling Mates Ski Camp
Toyota Auto Body Co., Ltd.Special transport services with accessible vans to disabled and elderly people
Fuji Xerox Co., Ltd.Hasu-Club
Mitsubishi Electric CorporationSOCIO-ROOTS Fund
Meiji Life Insurance CompanyMeal Delivery With Warm Hello
3. Power in Persistence
INAX CorporationGalleries and Publication
The Dai-ichi Mutual Life Insurance CompanyThe Public Health Award
Taisei CorporationGalerie Taisei
Takeda Chemical Industries, Ltd.(Takeda Science Foundation) Kyouu Shooku
4. Utilization of Professional Skills and Knowledge
OMRON CorporationDeveloping Land Mine Sensor
Kao CorporationProviding an audio CD (DAISY edition) with information on all of Kao's products and living information for visually-challenged people
Shiseido Co., Ltd."Daily Beauty Care Seminars" for the Elderly and the Disabled
Toshiba CorporationWelcome to our Factories and Toshiba Science Institute
TOTO Ltd."GALLERY MA" & "Book shop TOTO"
IBM Japan, Ltd."National Association of Institutions of Information Service for the Visually Handicapped" and "Japan Blind person Outtdoor Support Association"
NEC CorporationNEC Kids Internet Schools - Online Safety Program -
"East & West" Nippon Telegraph and Telephone CorporationConcert for Live-phone "Tokimeki"
5. Partnership with Different Organizations
Ajinomoto Co., Inc.Philippine Integrated Project
Kikkoman CorporationKikkoman Pure Club
DENSO CorporationThe establishment of the WAFCA(Wheelchairs & Friendship Center of Asia) and WAFCAT(Wheelchairs and Friendship Center of Asia[Thailand])
The Tokio Marine and Fire Insurance Co., Ltd.Planting Mangroves in Asia
Japan Tobacco Inc."Ganbare NPO!" Project
Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.KID'S GUERNICA
Mitsui Marine and Fire Insurance Co., Ltd.Donating First-Aid Kits
The Yasuda Fire & Marine Insurance Co., Ltd.Environmental Public Course for Citizens
6. Investment for Future Society
Asahi Glass Co., Ltd.(The Asahi Foundation) Commendation Program Blue Planet Prize
Asahi Breweries, Ltd.Asahi Lobby Concerts
Kirin Brewery Co., Ltd.KIRIN ART AWARD
The Daiei, Inc.Supporting Legislate for Shopping with the Service Dog
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.Nissan NPO Learning Scholarship Program
NGK Insulators, Ltd.Supporting Program for Foreign students studying abroad in Japan
Nippon Life Insurance CompanyThe Nissay Million Tree-Planting Campaign
Hitachi, Ltd.Hitachi Young Leaders Initiative
7. Challenges for Management in Dealing with New Urgent Tasks
Sony CorporationSOMEONE NEEDS YOU Campaign
Ricoh Company, Ltd.Corporate Tithing System

Home Page in English