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19 September 2016
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Realpolitik in Corporate Charitable Works

Projects, Funds and Realpolitik

If you look carefully to the examples of corporate social responsibility, you can see three common principles of charitable initiatives organization.
  1. Support of a charity fund or a long-term external (Alfa-Bank has been supporting the "Life Line" Fund for 10 years) or internal (TDK has been encouraging its employees to become donors and to donate blood and bone marrow for 28 years) project.

  2. Creation of own fund, which is constantly involved in charitable works (Hitachi).  Together Association of Charitable Organizations gives examples of Russian companies that have chosen this approach – they are such business giants as Rusal and Uralsib.

  3. One-time campaigns and short-term projects, contents of which depend on the needs of the local or the global community. By analogy with one of the types of policy, let's call this approach Realpolitik – "real politics."  This is the strategy used by Nasko insurance company. 

  4. In practice, even a company with long-term charity projects or their own fund uses elements of Realpolitik. Even TDK, in addition to constant support of orphanages and donations, has organized three large-scale campaigns supporting victims of disasters.

    But as a basis of charitable works, Realpolitik gives special advantages. What advantages – we can see on an example of ICL Services (an IT outsourcing company).

How it works. An example.

ICL Services combines constant programs in the field of social responsibility with one-time projects.

The company constantly supports veterans of labor, helps RT AIDS center to pay utility bills, donates to a social canteen in Kazan, and is regularly involved in a charity project for children "Million in loose change." It is a project of patronage over the Kazan secondary school No.15 – the company equips the school with furniture and equipment, repairs its classrooms, if necessary. One-time campaigns are also organized several times a year. Some examples right off the bat – sending computer equipment to schoolchildren in Beslan (2004), targeted support to an ill child (2011), or a purchase of 200 Christmas gifts to young patients of the neuropsychiatric clinic, who wrote a letter describing their dearest wishes (2015).

The company's employees anonymously give money to charity. The funds are directed to help in solving the most urgent problems. For example, in 2015, 75,000 rubles collected by the employees were transferred to the Mothers of Kazan – an organization, which takes care of orphans, lying in hospitals.

Besides that, ICL Services invests into education – it prepares, develops and supports future IT professionals with the help of scholarships, fellowships, IT courses and an annual IT tournament. When All-Russian Olympiad in Applied Computer Science was held in Kazan, the company provided it with necessary equipment and then donated it to the region's schools. The company has repeatedly supported the "IT in Mechanical Engineering, Metallurgy, Fuel and Energy Complex, Chemical and Retail" Conference – an important event in the field of high technology equipment production in Russia.

There were other charitable initiatives – from the sponsorship of a student sports team to landscaping the area adjacent to the company's offices.

So what are the advantages?

General principle of Realpolitik: the company has the possibility to allocate some resources to charity – monetary funds, valuables and employees time. It distributes these resources at a request of private individuals, philanthropic organizations, children's homes or concerned employees.

This approach is attractive to employees-volunteers.

  • It is easier to find time for a short, one-time project. But when an employee is involved in a long-term initiative, there is a risk that its job burden will one day grow up and lead to a "conflict of interest" (quality execution of his/her work against a moral duty to help other people).
  • Such approach as "have done a good thing and see the result at once" motivates.
  • More projects – more opportunities. If a manager (Ivan) finds it more important to help a nursing home, while an engineer (Peter) – to collect funds for a surgery of a child, they will not have to argue on priorities. They both will be able to show the initiative in accordance with their own beliefs.

And the company wins from that. Good deeds are done, and there is no need to create a separate unit for the sake of it — HR Department and volunteers can deal with one-time projects. Accordingly, the costs are lower.

In addition, the company is more flexible with Realpolitik. What can be done, if it was requested to donate funds to an emergency surgery for an ill child, but all the available funds have already been spent on constant charity project? It is hard to refuse. And when the company is ready for unexpected decisions, everything is easier. Once an ICL Services' employee child became ill with cancer and it was needed to quickly raise the funds for a surgery (fortunately, in the end the baby recovered). Then, the final decision on giving help was made within a couple of days.

But Realpolitik has some drawbacks: it is more difficult to plan costs, it is necessary to make many decisions (for each request instead of one project). But they are not critical, and easily compensated with benefits.

There is a question left: what is better — to help many pleaders (Realpolitik) or to direct all the forces to a single problem, but with maximum efficiency (long-term charitable program)? Nevertheless, it is philosophical, and has no clear answer.

Conclusions

Realpolitik as a basis for charitable works is a good solution for small and medium-sized companies, as it allows to solve the matter with fewer resources and to help society in solving the maximum number of problems.


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