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When it comes to giving back to the community, businesses try to address two concerns: philanthropy and corporate responsibility. While these two issues may seem similar, they’re two different concepts. By understanding what each one involves, you can understand why they’re both important, and how one can affect the other.

Corporate Responsibility is a Response to the Business’ Own Operation

At its core, the concept of corporate responsibility involves counteracting the negative effects that a business has on a community. For instance, if a manufacturing company produces harmful waste as a byproduct of its normal operations, they might take actions to prevent that waste from contaminating the environment. While there will likely be federal laws requiring them to take some action, a business with a strong sense of corporate responsibility will go beyond those laws. They may implement extra steps to further prevent the possibility of contamination; invest in new, safer machinery; or sponsor fundraising events to benefit local environmental protection groups. In general, corporate responsibility involves taking action to address the effects the business’ own actions have on a community.

Corporate Philanthropy Seeks to Give Something Back

While corporate philanthropy can go hand in hand with corporate responsibility, it doesn’t always have to be that way. In fact, corporations can and often do seek to use finances and other resources to benefit a community on a long-lasting basis. For instance, the business in the previous example is using philanthropy to counteract the effects their manufacturing operation is having on the environment. While they can only do so much to protect against contamination, they can use philanthropic donations to further their positive contributions to the community.

Alternatively, a business owner may feel particularly concerned about homelessness or gender equality. In this case, the business owner may guide his company toward philanthropic efforts that address these issues, even though they may have nothing to do with the operation of his own business. In this case, the business is interested in doing something for a particular cause, or to benefit the community at large.

In some cases, it might be said that corporate responsibility is the mindset that drives philanthropy. In that context, they’re two parts of an overall philosophy that businesses adopt in trying to better the communities in which they operate. Giving back is a very complex endeavor, which requires a change in attitudes that fuels the actions of the business entity.