The Special Case of Corporate Philanthropy


“The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits” by Milton Friedman
A classic New York Times Magazine essay where Nobel-winner Milton Friedman insists that, when it comes to corporations, the most “pro-social” use of funds is to make the business thrive, not to give money to non-profits.

“Business and Philanthropy” by Irving Kristol
Businesses have no obligation to give away money, writes editor, author, and think-tank scholar Irving Kristol, and if they choose to, they should do so in ways that serve the interests of their enterprise.

“The Competitive Advantage of Corporate Philanthropy” by Michael E. Porter and Mark R. Kramer
Rather than making PR-driven corporate donations, companies should give to improve their competitive standing, urges this Harvard Business Review article. Exxon Mobil makes large donations to improve roads in developing countries where it operates. The film studio DreamWorks trains students in skills required by the entertainment industry. Tech-dependent businesses may donate to institutions that improve math and science skills.

The Market for Virtue: The Potential and Limits of Corporate Social Responsibility by David Vogel
An assessment of the movement for “corporate social responsibility” by a Berkeley professor who concludes that while it has achieved some success in improving labor, human rights, and environmental practices in developing countries, there are limits and substantial costs to “socially responsible” business behavior.