CORPORATE FOUNDATIONS AND CSR COMMUNICATION: EVIDENCE FROM ROMANIAAlin StancuGeorgiana Florentina GrigoreIoana CepoiBUCHAREST ACADEMY OF ECONOMIC STUDIES
Contents1. CSR, Communication and Stakeholders - The Relationship between the Three Concepts2. Theoretical perspectives on corporate foundations3. Corporate foundations in the Romanian context. Method4. Corporate foundations in the Romanian context. Findings5. Research Methodology6. Findings7. Conclusion
1. CSR, Communication and Stakeholders - TheRelationship between the Three Concepts 1.1. Corporate Social Responsibility 1.2. CSR Communication nonfinancial reports stakeholder dialogue 1.3. Stakeholder Theory to identify the relevant group that require attention from companies and their features to explore the relationship between the company and its stakeholders and the nature of this relationship 1.4. CSR communication and Reputation Morsing et al., 2008: The expert CSR communication process The endorsed CSR communication
2. Theoretical perspectives on corporate foundations• Foundations classification: grant-making and operating foundations (UN Handbook); grant-making, operating and other foundations (Centre for Social Investment, 2008) - the latter group includes corporate (company sponsored), community and fundraising foundations.• Corporate foundation is “an independent legal entity established by its parent for-profit company. It is governed by a board that may include members of the corporation board or contributions committee, other staff members, and members of the community. The corporate foundation is a vehicle for promoting corporate citizenship or corporate philanthropy” (Centre for Social Investment, 2008, p. 3)• Creating corporate foundations is a way in which corporations choose to externalise (partially or totally) CSR activities to a non-profit entity. In general, corporate foundations are affiliated with companies that integrate a long-term CSR strategy in their core activity, and are dedicated to sustain social and environmental development. Although corporate foundations are established like independent entities, in some cases they respond to mission or objectives set up by their sponsoring company, and they aim to contribute to the development of the society.
3. Corporate foundations in the Romaniancontext. MethodIn order to explore the Romanian corporate foundations and their role in CSRcommunication, in this section the paper presents a qualitative research based on casestudies. A sample of 200 companies was selected by their turnover (Biz Magazine Top,November 2010) with the purpose of discovering which of these companies adoptcorporate foundations as a tool of social involvement. In order to meet this objective,several questions were taken into account: How many companies have corporate foundation associated? What are the main areas addressed by corporate foundations? How is the mission of corporate foundations integrated in their strategic planning? Which are the categories of stakeholders identified by the corporate foundations?Data was collected from the foundations webpages between May 2011 and July 2011.Where the information was missing on the foundations` website, data was obtainedfrom the companies’ webpages under the section “corporate social responsibility”.
4. Corporate foundations in the Romanian context. Findings4.1.The existence of corporate foundations as a way of social involvementFrom the total sample of 200 companies analysed, 9.5% are employing corporate foundations associal involvement (21 corporate foundations).4.2.Areas Addressed by Corporate Foundations• 63,15% of the corporate foundations are supporting social aspects (e.g.: Vodafone Foundation, Sensiblu Foundation, UPC Foundation, McDonalds Foundation, Romtelecom Foundation);• 52,63% are active actors in sustaining education;• 36,84% of the foundations are involved in protection of the environment and cultural aspects;• 21,05% are involved in supporting health and education.4.3. Types of Corporate Foundations according to their MissionThree types of corporate foundations are identified by their mission as a planning tool:• Corporate foundations that have a different mission from their company (63%);• Corporate foundations that have a similar mission with the company (11%);• Corporate foundations that have no declared mission (26%).4.4. Stakeholders addressed• In most of the cases (58% of corporate foundations) stakeholders are not clearly identified.
5.Research Methodology The research question is whether corporate foundations have a role in communicating corporate social responsibility towards stakeholders. In order to answer this question, several objectives are highlighted: (1) to identify the context of the corporate foundation emergence, (2) to explore the link between the corporate foundations and the sponsoring companies, (3) to determine the role of corporate foundations in social responsibility communication. In order to reach the objectives, an exploratory qualitative research is designed. Two in-depth interviews with representatives of corporate foundations in Romania are conducted. From within the 21 corporate foundations previously identified, two accepted to participate to the interviews. The interviews ranged from 45 minutes to one hour and a half in duration. The interview guide was structured on three directions, in order to meet the objectives.
6.Findings6.1. The context of corporate foundations emergence• To offer coherence to corporate social activities implemented by the funding company and to have a responsible person to deal with specific targets. The second foundation was based to fulfil employees’ expectations. It develops programs to change the mentality regarding domestic abuse, and to offer support to its victims, sponsorships, cause-related marketing campaigns (focused on health area), communication about CSR activities to company`s employees.6.2. The liaison between corporate foundations and sponsoring companies• The first corporate foundation has a board of directors that changes periodically and its members are companies` top management employees. As for the communication regarding CSR activities, both foundations use the Internet, e-mail and internal newsletters. The role of the first corporate foundation is to take over the company`s CSR activities and to offer consistency and congruity with the marketing strategy. Corporate foundation strategy follows the same path as the company`s strategy, but this is more flexible depending upon the context, needs and partners involved in the campaigns.6.3. The role of corporate foundations in CSR communication• The representative of the first foundation suggested that the company communicates the values and mission through its corporate foundation, using the press release as a tool of informing stakeholders. The stakeholders are diversified, depending on the specificity of the program implemented. Employees are the most relevant stakeholders for the foundations. The foundations use a personalized communication with each group of stakeholders (Internet, newsletter, or intranet).
7.Conclusion• From the top 200 companies, only 9.5% use corporate foundations as a way of communicating about CSR activities;• Most of the corporate foundations are supporting social causes, and their mission is distinctive from the sponsoring company one;• Corporate foundations are based in order to give coherence to CSR activities or to fulfil stakeholders` expectations;• Corporate foundations are mainly communicating the CSR activities internally, towards employees, through newsletters or Intranet.