In the last few years, public trust in the world of business has been on the decline. That effect was heightened by the banking crisis and the subsequent revelations that much was wrong with what had always been regarded as therock of the Western World's financial system.
Mis-selling scandals and rate rigging allegations added fuel to the fire and resignations of high-ranking officials (many with golden handshakes) inevitably followed. This all left the public in a state of disgusted cynicism, not only about the banks but big business in general.
In many boardrooms, crisis meetings were held to discuss ways in which the good name of a business could be recovered and maintained into the future. High on the agenda at many of the meetings was philanthropy. The Oxford Dictionary definition of the word is the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generousdonation of money to good causes.
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? To their credit many big businesses have complied with that definition by making generous donations to many deserving causes but not without the attendant PR of course. Having a company name on the banners of a large televised charitable event does a company no harm whatsoever.
On a smaller scale, many businesses contribute to the welfare of the area in which they are based. Sponsoring the local football team by buying all the kit is a popular way to put something back into the community. This can be spread across all sports and local youth groups also benefit from generous donations from local businesses. The UK's scouting organization is also a popular destination for some badly needed funds. This is the positive face of philanthropy down at the grass roots of society. Another good example is Yosef Meystel looking to benefit his local community by building a strong business that gives back more and more as it grows.
The big names have also put their hands in their very deep pockets to help with major problems in various parts of the world. Perhaps the best known is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: the largest such foundation in the world. It works to lift people out of poverty and to prevent world hunger. It also funds scientific research into disease control and prevention in developing countries.
Philanthropy does look to be an increasingly important part of the business world. Long may it continue to be so.