There are two major occurrences that can shake up the world of corporate philanthropy: sporting events and natural disasters. According to a recent study of over 2,500 organizations in 157 cities, popular sporting events such as the Olympics or the Super Bowl and natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes can bring out the best in businesses to an extent.

Although football games and hurricanes may not seem to have much in common, they both can encourage companies to donate more to the local community. According to the study, huge sporting events like the Olympic Games encourage companies in the host city to increase their charity to improve their public image. The study also states that although the corporate philanthropy is dramatic, it is also short-lived. The businesses are willing to ramp up their donations before and during the event, but gradually decline afterwards.

Natural disasters have a similar effect on corporations headquartered in the damaged city, but only to an extent. If the damage to the community is relatively minimal ($5 billion or less), businesses often step up and do what they can to help rebuild and recover.

But if the damage is more extensive, wouldn’t businesses want to help more by donating and volunteering more in the community?

The study showed that if the damage totaled more than $5 billion, companies instead took the “every man for himself” or “secure your own oxygen mask first” approach, and there were fewer donations from organizations because they were most concerned with securing their own future, and usually the community gets less help from local businesses than if the damage was minimal.

For short-term corporate philanthropy, it’s best to ask for donations shortly before or during planned events such as the Olympics, Super Bowl, World Series, or other major sporting events because it’s more likely that local businesses will do more to support charities and nonprofit organizations in the area. Immediately after a small or medium-sized natural disaster is another key time to ask businesses for their time or money, as they would be more likely to do what they can do help the local community during times of struggle.

Katie Brockman
Source: Forbes
Photo: Pacific Standard