What Gives?… Who Gets?

Highland Electricity is well known for supporting community projects.  In the past 2 years it has increased its corporate giving and re-defined its giving criteria.


Highland’s giving guidelines now include four funding themes for projects in the company service area including…

         Job training and economic development


         Emergency preparedness

         Environmental stewardship


In the past 2 years Highland has not strayed from the new guidelines which they believe reflect their highest priority social responsibility values.  As a result many worthy organizations have been turned down for funding.  The message to these organizations and to the community has been that “the company is focusing its resources in its strategic socially responsible funding areas within the company’s service area”.


Highland’s Contributions Manager has recently received two funding requests from high-level managers within the company.


1) The first is to provide a 25K grant to an arts center in a small town inside the service territory.  A chief regulatory official’s wife serves on the art center’s board.


2) The second request is for a 30K grant to a mission driven educational nonprofit committed to environmental stewardship programs.  The organization is headquartered in the district of a very influential state legislator outside the service area.


Both grant requests are strong and will draw considerable public attention.


Both internal promoters of the grants feel these projects would provide opportunities for contact, relationship building, and good will that would serve the company well.  These advocates are pushing their projects hard but have no say in the final decision.


Should the Highland’s Contribution Manager take a rigid approach and stick to the giving guidelines? Or consider making exceptions?


2 Responses to What Gives?… Who Gets?

  1. greenmba2008 says:

    The companay has revised its giving-related values very recently. It has established clear qualifications for a grant. These values include benefitting only the local service area, and this message has been communicated in actions. Neither of these requests fit the scope that the company has established. In order to make exceptions, the Contribution Manager should re-visit the parameters under which the company has been giving for the last 2 years, and examine whether they fit the future needs of the company adequately. This examination could be undertaken with senior management, and be informed by financial, strategic and other considerations. In the event that the company does revise its qualifications for giving, they should be clearly expressed to the employees & the community prior to any subsequent giving activity, so that the message sent does not create misunderstandings and bad feelings, and the company remains consistent in its values.

  2. Marc D. says:

    Stick to the guidelines set and be consistent in their application. The first case (the Art Center) does, in fact, meet the qualification criteria therefore they should get the grant. They are in the service territory and they fulfill the Education objective. However, there is an apparent conflict of interest. Deny the grant, avoid the publicity, and make sure the giving criteria clearly addresses “conflict of interest” limitations to issuing grants. The second request is clearly outside the service area–no grant period. Modifying the giving guidelines to “fit” these requests would be wrong.

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