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updated: 12/13/2018 4:15 PM

Modern corporate charitable giving creates a new model for doing business

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In today's highly polarized climate, where consumers are losing faith that public institutions can better society, more and more Americans expect the private sector to step up and fill the gap. As such, corporate social responsibility programs are called to take on a new sense of mission, from small, charitable giving programs to a new way of doing business. These are a couple of key findings from Mintel's 2018 report Attitudes Toward Corporate Social Responsibility. Mintel Group, LTD is the world's leading market intelligence agency and where I've enjoyed working for close to 12 years.

Mintel, with its Americas headquarters based in Chicago, aligns its business values with its philanthropic efforts. Strategic client partnerships drive Mintel's business, while strategic partnerships with non-profit organizations drive Mintel's heart.

With the inception of MintelGives, the company's corporate responsibility group, Mintel has found an instrumental way to connect its employees to the community through giving. MintelGives' mission is to support employee interest and involvement in non-profit organizations through donation matching, quarterly fundraising, in-kind donation drives and community service projects. Our vision for corporate giving differs from the traditional (and antiquated) "check writing" approach of the past. We believe matching funds donated or raised by employees further connects them with the organizations they choose to support and encourages them to do more.

Identifying thoughtful and impactful opportunities to give is paramount when a company establishes and cultivates relationships with non-profit organizations. Just as Mintel plays a strategic role in the growth of our clients' businesses, MintelGives is intentional when creating collaborations with our community partners to drive significant social influence. It is imperative to build lasting connections with organizations to keep our employees engaged in giving on a larger scale, while having the ability to identify the return on investment and the tangible impact on the community in which we live, play and work.

Mintel's first longstanding community partnership was with One Hope United (OHU). For over 120 years, OHU has been serving children and their families in the Chicagoland area and beyond in three areas of social service -- early learning and child development, community-based family services, and foster care/adoption and residential care.

I was introduced to the organization seven years ago when searching for ways to personally give back to my community and I eventually found ways for MintelGives to support them as well. On an ongoing basis, MintelGives gauges employee interest in various charitable causes as a way to ensure we're partnering with organizations that align with our employees' values.

Time and again the survey reveals the desire to support child welfare and education initiatives. One Hope United was a perfect match with Mintel from the start. In 2015, OHU launched their Wishbook, an alternative method of giving during the holiday season. Not your typical holiday toy drive, Wishbook provides the opportunity to make the most impact on the children and families OHU serves year round.

And Mintel employees jumped at the chance to support the initiative, with the following programs eliciting the most support last year:

• SPARCS Youth Anti-Violence Program: A program to teach teens healthy ways of dealing with stressful situations and equip them with problem solving and communication skills that can curb violence.

• Preschool Scholarship: In low-income communities, if parents lose their jobs, they also lose their government assistance to send their child to preschool. Scholarships enable their child to stay in school -- and on track -- while the parents look for new work.

With gifting made easy by the One Hope/Mintel ecommerce site, Mintel employees worked together to realize the greatest gift of all: creating real change in the trajectory of the lives of the people in our communities.

• Adiat Baker is a Finance Specialist at Mintel, and serves as the MintelGives US Chair. For more information, visit