Corporate Museum: Corporate philanthropy for heritage

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Corporate philanthropy is a powerful strategy for cultural management. The popular definition of cultural and corporate activities holds them opposed this is far from the truth, however. There are two models of corporate philanthropy: 

  • Corporate sponsorship of cultural or charitable activities
  • Cultural institutions legally established as corporations, instead of non-for-profit

Both models use similar tools and see economic, image and brand strengthening benefits. 

Corporate sponsorship is usually part of their corporate giving policy of larger organisations. For example, the LVMH Group has the Fondation Louis Vuitton, which is an exemplary art, culture and heritage institution. Small local businesses can implement and support strategies that directly contribute to their communities, even though they do not share the same resources with international corporations. 

Large local companies can dedicate resources and support indirectly local charities and in return receive great publicity from their target audience and local support. 

Small business and shops, the owner can participate in local actions organise discounts, raffles, prizes and be part of the local charity advertisements. 

What are the benefits?

Grow your marketing strategy:

  • cheap advertising
  • local product promotion
  • quality publicity

Enhance your communication strategy:

  • reach your target audience
  • get your message across
  • improve or alter your image and brand
  • raise awareness of your business

Increase of local customer base

Growing local workforce

Strengthen the relationship between clients during events and cultural activity participation

Tax returns and exemptions (depending on the local legislation and type of giving)

Corporate Museums can have a greater variety of activities that generate income and have similar benefits to museums. They differ in the establishment as corporate museums can be a limited liability, private, one-person companies etc. whereas museums are a type of non-for-profit organisation. Corporate museums are financially sustainable and independent and can withstand or adapt to crisis easier than museums who are heavily dependent on government funding or a specific donor pool. 

Most Corporate Museums are museums related to the brand of a company. Independent Corporate Museums are partly a product of leniency in the tax legislation for cultural activities, therefore cannot be applied worldwide. Corporate museums can be especially beneficial to local communities as the locals can hold shares of the museum, participate in its management and share revenue, therefore become more invested in its success. 

For example, our article  Business Plan for the Cavafy Project Centre describes the creation of a limited liability company based in Cyprus instead of a Museum or Cultural Centre, to bypass the strict Egyptian financial regulations for non-for-profits and to benefit from the tax system of Cyprus. Cyprus offers one of the lowest tax percentages in Europe companies who have social and cultural activities are often exempt from tax. 


Below are some corporate philanthropy actions companies can implement:

  • Sponsor activities, events, prizes or charity of the year
  • Employee volunteering
  • Employee loan, secondment or pro bono professional support
  • Gifts in kind such as company products, surplus products, space for holding events
  • Cause-related marketing, giving a percentage of earning for each item sold or offer a donation during a purchase. For example, after the fire at Notre Dame in Paris, supermarkets offered clients to make a small donation during check out to raise money for the cause. 
  • Employee fundraising 
  • Customer fundraising
  • Cash donations

Connecting the business and cultural parts of a community strengthens the ties between them, helps improve the quality of living and enhances communication.  Local communities are capable of establishing a unified autonomy in their cultural management as well as strengthen their economy following corporate philanthropy practices. 

I want to learn more: 

The corporate museum: A new type of museum created as a component of company marketing, K.K. Piatkowska

A Planning Guide for Corporate Museums, Galleries, and Visitor Centers, Victor J. Danilov

The Corporate Museums and Their Social Function: some evidence from Italy, M. Bonti

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