Exploring Public-Private Partnerships

By: Lindsey Greenberg, Gateway Center for Giving

Did you know that a corporation can give grants to local and state governments?  Until this week it hadn’t really occurred to the Center or to our members that charitable contributions could be made to government organizations.  Evidently charitable contributions to government organizations are tax-deductible under section 170c1 of the IRS code as long as they are made for a public purpose.

In researching this form of public-private partnership for one of our corporate members we were amazed by how little we and our community really knew about this type of relationship despite the fact that there are major corporations around the country engaging in these types of partnerships every day.

IBM recently launched their Smarter Cities Challenge (St. Louis was one of the cities picked in 2011!) that allows municipalities or local governments are allowed to apply directly to IBM Corporate Citizenship for technology funding.

Below are some additional links to articles that describe the new wave of public-private partnerships and how they are operating:

  • Smarter Urbanization Requires Innovative Public-Private Partnerships (Huffington Post)
    “Public-private partnerships driven by corporate citizenship have the power to improve the services that matter to city residents: education, transportation, economic development, public safety, health care, social services, and more. Rather than simply cut back on these services in the face of budget deficits, local governments can work with corporations to transform the way they are delivered. The overwhelming majority of philanthropic support is still issue-specific (e.g. education, health care, the environment, or the arts) and not elevated to the city-level, where all those issues come together.”
  • Cities of Service
    Funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies, 20 member cities each received $200,000 Leadership Grants to develop and implement a high-impact service plan.
  • Living Cities
    An innovative philanthropic collaborative of 22 of the world’s largest foundations and financial institutions that takes a comprehensive approach to improve the lives of low-income people and the urban areas in which they live.
  • Council on Foundations- Public Philanthropic Partnership Initiative
    New initiative from the Council on Foundations for members to learn about creative partnerships involving the public and philanthropic sectors, study the measures of success, determine how to apply lessons learned, identify opportunities and barriers, and cite prospects for future collaboration.  Website in the process of being populated.

We hope that local companies will explore this growing trend of public-private partnerships and that local governments will continue to seek out funding opportunities from both local and national funders for innovative projects that will better our community!

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