I came across a familiar quote but didn’t know to whom it was attributed.
I searched further and learned that Milton Friedman said, “the only social responsibility of business is to maximize shareholder profit.” Mr. Friedman was an American economist and statistician who received the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.
I long accepted the concept as truth – but lately, I have realized that society doesn’t have to take it as the only purpose of business. There are beginnings of shareholders pushing the managers of their investments to think more broadly, much longer term. Some well-funded climate change activists are moving company boards’ thinking and subsequent voting to long-term, 7generations of time.
Some countries have policies to divest themselves of companies primarily involved in fossil fuel extraction. Some pensions funds have stated policies not to invest in companies contributing to climate change.
I’m making the point that this is happening whether you agree with the trend or not. Milton Friedman’s edict is slipping to the side, allowing me to see other possibilities.
The United Nations celebrated ‘International Volunteer Day in December.
To pull all the pieces together, let’s look to France, which provides a real-life laboratory example. Companies can receive a tax credit for in-kind donations to non-profits. In practical terms, they pay staff to work for these non-companies and receive a 60% rebate to help offset the cost.
One company with over a half-million employees summed up their experience this way. “It’s a win-win where we can engage employees to do good for the local communities – which gives them a sense of purpose and improves employee retention – and is a free source of expertise for the NGOs.”
Canada could dip its toes into the water. Could Canada have such a formal policy? It could be just for 5 years and perhaps a rebate of 25%. Then it could be reviewed. We’d get our feet wet but not drown.
I’m retired and gladly volunteer my time. Creating this weekly Blog is an example of how I apportion my available time, in this case, to the St. Albert Seniors Association.
But not everyone has that time. Many folks want to give their time, but the time isn’t there after working, raising a family, spending time with a partner, and general household maintenance. Oh yea, I forgot to add in the need to sleep.
In some form or another, tax credits give hectic folks time to engage in helping others.
Please, give this a bit of a think. If your business provided you paid time to help an NGO, where would you spend a few hours each week? Do you like the concept of company tax credits to support this? What are some pros and cons?
I’m curious about your thoughts. Please leave your comment.
If you enjoyed The Blog, please share your bit-of-a-think. Thanks.
And my thanks to St. Albert Seniors Association: 780-459-0433 for making this Blog possible.