The Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Company has announced that it is reorganizing its main charitable department and fundamentally changing its worldwide giving priorities, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reports.
The proposed changes include the elimination of Coca-Cola's long-standing corporate external affairs department, which will be replaced by a new oversight division named Global Community Connections. As part of the shift, the company will refocus its giving, which had targeted education and diversity, on three areas: water cleanliness and supply, recycling with an emphasis on sustainable packaging, and fitness. In addition, each global operating region will be able to specify two local initiatives to support beyond the three company-wide priorities. Coca-Cola expects the reorganization, which will be managed by Ingrid Saunders Jones, the former head of external affairs and longtime charitable face of Coca-Cola, to be completed by January 2008.
Coca-Cola currently funds several foundations at operating subsidiaries around the world, as well as philanthropic initiatives directly through the Coca-Cola Foundation. Worldwide, local operating regions will compete for the parent company's support, de-centralizing the grant process. Rather than dealing with nonprofits directly, Global Community Connections will coordinate with Coca-Cola's various subsidiaries in making grant and strategy decisions.
The reorganization of Coca-Cola's charitable activities comes after almost a year of internal restructuring by the company. According to Dennis Young, director of the nonprofit studies program at Georgia State University, the reorganization echoes the efforts of other large publicly held companies to more closely align their charitable activities with their core business.
"Companies have found it really works," said Young. "They're thinking about that whole area less as gift-giving and more like a partnership. It's an effective corporate strategy."