Corporate Philanthropy Examples: Insights from 5 of the Best CSR Programs

Doing social impact well in the corporate sphere is not about replicating what other companies are doing. It’s about finding the unique ways your company can show up in the world. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t lean on others for inspiration. In fact, looking to top CSR programs is a great way to understand how your company can find its niche and how you can build the right CSR strategy for your organization. 

Celia Wexler’s incisive piece for Inside Philanthropy serves as our guide to the top examples of corporate philanthropy. We’re not just looking up to these titans in admiration, but for ideas and insight on how they align their CSR efforts with their business strengths and mission to drive impact. 

We invite you to explore Wexler’s article for a deeper dive. Here, we’re zooming in on the crucial elements that set these five best corporate philanthropy examples apart, providing you with actionable takeaways to build your own.

Top 5 Corporate Philanthropy Examples

1. makes big bets on new ideas

The program: Through its philanthropic arm, Google leverages the expertise and size of its workforce and brand image to tackle global issues. The company prioritizes innovation, directing corporate giving to test out new ideas in a  way that takes an “impact first,” long-term approach. They call these investments “moonshots,” which they view as a chance to take a risk and develop new solutions that governments and nonprofits can scale. For example, pledged $30 million in 2022 to fund “big bet” ideas to combat climate change, and launched a 10-year, $1 billion initiative for affordable housing in the San Francisco area,.

The company also supports a variety of CSR initiatives for employees to get involved, including:

  • Dollars for Doers: $10 per employee volunteer hour to the nonprofit where they volunteer 
  • Up to $10,000 of 1:1 corporate gift matching to nonprofits
  • Up to 20 hours of volunteer time off
  • Google Serve, the company’s annual day of volunteering
  • Open-choice giving during the annual Holiday Giving Campaign 
  • Fellowship to take six months away from work to help a nonprofit

Why it works: This approach capitalizes on Google’s core strengths—cutting-edge technology, a strong appetite for innovation, and its massive, socially engaged workforce. It empowers employees to visibly and transformatively contribute time and money to the causes that matter to them in whatever ways they want. Meanwhile, Google is able to build strong relationships with nonprofits through grants and employee volunteer work. The company also has the flexibility to help contribute to emergent issues, such as racial inequity, COVID-19, the war in Ukraine, or natural disasters. 

Key takeaway:  Companies are in a unique position to drive innovation in the social impact space. Embrace bold approaches in CSR that reflect your company’s unique strengths and values. Google’s “moonshot” philanthropy, combined with flexible, employee-driven initiatives, showcases how a company can make a significant, long-term impact by testing out new ideas and using their human capital for good.

2. The Amgen Foundation finds the right partners

The program: The Amgen Foundation, the biotech enterprise’s philanthropic org, focuses mainly on science education. They collaborate with leading educational organizations to create free resources and programs like the LabXchange platform that are accessible to all. Their initiatives, such as the Amgen Biotech Experience and the Amgen Scholars Program, are designed to ignite a passion for science among young learners, especially in communities and countries that typically have less access to advanced scientific education.

Why it works: The foundation’s focus on science education is a perfect match for Amgen’s expertise in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. By teaming up with partners who specialize in education, such as Harvard and MIT, they can invest in educating future scientists. This means they are nurturing potential future employees and industry innovators, while strengthening their brand reputation. 

Key takeaway: Though your company can bring a unique perspective and skillset to your CSR initiatives, you don’t have to know it all. Find partners with missions that align with yours and whose resources and expertise pair well with what you bring to the table. 

3. Salesforce makes a tangible commitment

The program: Salesforce pioneered its 1-1-1 philanthropy model, dedicating 1% of its product, 1% of its equity, and 1% of employees’ time to philanthropic efforts—and encouraging other businesses to do the same. This approach is integrated into every aspect of Salesforce’s operations, making philanthropy a fundamental part of the company’s DNA. To date, the company has given $658 million in grants, dedicated 8.3 million volunteer hours from employees, and donated its technology to over 54,000 schools and nonprofits for free or at a discount.

Why it works: By pledging a 1% giving across product, equity, and employee time, Salesforce puts a hard number behind their CSR commitment. There are no vague promises of social impact—they can be held accountable to their pledge.This helps make giving back a key element of the Salesforce company model. 

Key takeaway: There’s power in a firm commitment. Whether it’s a specific dollar amount, a percentage of equity, or a number of volunteer hours, aim to commit to a specific goal. Be vocal with employees and the public about your commitment to social impact, and be transparent about how you will follow through. 

4. The Wells Fargo Foundation leans on its strengths 

The program: The Wells Fargo Foundation emphasizes housing affordability and financial health, aligning closely with Wells Fargo’s role as a major mortgage lender. Their initiatives include programs like the “Wealth Opportunities Restored Through Home Ownership” (WORTH) initiative, which aims to increase homeownership among people of color. They also tackle broader economic mobility challenges, offering support for small business growth, financial literacy, and community development. This comprehensive approach targets the root causes of economic disparity, aiming to create sustainable change in communities.

Why it works: By focusing on housing affordability and financial health, the foundation leverages the bank’s expertise and resources to make a tangible difference. Their targeted approach not only addresses critical societal needs, but also reinforces Wells Fargo’s role as a responsible corporate citizen in the financial sector. This strategy enhances their reputation and builds trust within the communities they serve, while also addressing systemic issues that impact their business directly.

Key takeaway: Applying your company’s specific expertise to address relevant societal issues makes your contributions more impactful and informed. This approach benefits the community while reinforcing your company’s position as a knowledgeable, responsible industry leader.

5. Electronic Arts (EA) sticks to its core identity

The program: EA anchors its CSR initiatives around its mission of “inspiring the world to play.” This focus extends into areas like STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) education and creating healthy, inclusive communities where play is accessible to everyone. EA utilizes the universal appeal and engaging nature of play to foster educational and community development programs.

Why it works: EA’s approach succeeds because it aligns perfectly with its identity as a leading game developer. By leveraging the concept of play, EA creates CSR initiatives that resonate with its brand, its employees, and its global audience by being more authentic and relatable. The company’s use of play as a vehicle for positive change in STEAM education and community engagement also encourages the educational and social benefits of gaming and interactive media, which strengthens its core business.

Key takeaway: Identify what’s unique and intrinsic to your company’s mission, and leverage that in your CSR goals and initiatives. Use what your employees, company, and your community care about to guide how you contribute to social impact.

Embrace your differentiators

No matter what size your company is or where it is in its CSR journey, it’s your unique perspectives, values, expertise, talent, and people that will make your social impact programs successful. Because the most impactful corporate philanthropy programs are those that resonate deeply with a company’s unique identity and mission. 

From Google’s technological prowess to EA’s mission of inspiring play, the top CSR examples teach us that authenticity and strategic alignment are key to making a difference. To develop programs that are impactful and sustainable, align them with your company’s ethos and unique strengths. Whether it’s leveraging technological innovation, financial expertise, or your specific worldview, the secret lies in finding that sweet spot where you can use your company’s ‘superpower’ to make the world a better place.

If you’re ready to step up your CSR game and create programs that resonate with your company’s unique identity and mission, you’ll need the right CSR software. Schedule a demo with us today and start implementing a leading corporate philanthropy program that makes a real difference.

Hsing Tseng

Hsing is a content marketer and ex-journalist who writes about tech, DEI, and remote work. Beyond the screen, she enjoys building custom mechanical keyboards and playing with her dog. You can find more of her work at