The Impact of Cause Portfolio Focus and Contribution Amount on Stakeholder Evaluations

Business and Society 59 (7):1483-1514 (2020)
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Abstract

When companies engage in corporate philanthropy, they can donate to a number of causes supporting a variety of issues, thus establishing cause portfolios. This research examines how the focus of a cause portfolio affects company evaluations. Results from an experiment show that when a company donates a small amount of money, consumers have lower evaluations of a company when the cause portfolio is focused versus diverse. This is because the focused portfolio is perceived to have a weaker impact to society. We provide additional evidence of this effect using a data set of Fortune 500 companies’ foundations, showing that cause portfolios are more likely to result in lower stakeholder evaluations when focused. Again, we find that donation amount alleviates the difference between focused and diverse portfolios. The findings hold important implications for the company’s management of cause portfolios.

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