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In 2015, Google gave $167.8 million to charity. Much of it went to a nonprofit that aids the poor, some to a school for the blind, and more to advocates for criminal justice reform.

They’re not the only philanthropic business, of course. All Fortune 500 companies donate in some capacity, and the most generous are often recognized by the media for their efforts.

Smart businesses know philanthropy can give them an edge. Here’s how.

1. Philanthropy improves competitive context

Donating to charity helps companies improve their competitive context. In “The Competitive Advantage of Corporate Philanthropy,” the Harvard Business Review describes competitive context as “the quality of the business environment in the location or locations where they operate.”

“Using philanthropy to enhance context brings social and economic goals into alignment and improves a company’s long-term business prospects,” writes The Review.

Give by doing what you do best

Which means it’s possible for corporations to give what they do best, for the benefit of others. For example, as part of its charitable efforts, Google installed Wi-Fi along refugee routes in Europe in 2015.

To use the competitive context strategy, “Corporations need to rethink both where they focus their philanthropy and how they go about their giving,” The Review says.

2. People support brands that support causes

Consumers have come to expect companies to adopt a certain level of corporate social responsibility (CSR), and in turn, consumers tend to support companies whose causes they support.

In fact, a 2017 study found 76 percent of Americans said they would refuse to buy products from a company that supports issues that contrast with their personal beliefs.

Another 78 percent want companies to address important social justice issues. And 87 percent said they would buy products from a company that advocated for issues they cared about.

Also, keep in mind that top talent oftentimes desires to work for companies with great CSR strategies.

“The next generation of employees is seeking out employers that are focused on the triple bottom line: people, planet and revenue,” Symantec global diversity and inclusion program manager Susan Cooney told Business News Daily.

The publication noted four CSR strategies more companies now employ:

  • Reducing their carbon footprint
  • Practicing philanthropy
  • Employing ethical labor practices
  • Attending volunteer events

3. Philanthropic organizations as opportunities

“Philanthropy is the gateway to power.” That’s a quote from the TV show Mad Men, said by ad boss Roger Sterling. But, in all seriousness, he was right.

“Philanthropic organizations are often a who’s who of the world’s most powerful individuals,” according to the Fortune Magazine article, “4 ways your company benefits from giving back.”

Get your foot in the door at one of these charitable organizations and find yourself face-to-face with the people who might be the key to your next big win.

“For an entrepreneur or businessperson, these connections are an invaluable resource,” the article says. “The people you know determine what you can get done and what opportunities you can take advantage of. People in these organizations tend to develop a mutual trust and respect for one another, which are essential factors in doing business.”

The advantages to corporate charitable giving are myriad. Hone your plan to ensure your company’s cause is your consumer’s cause, too.