A Look at Korean Corporate Citizens’ Capabilities During COVID-19

Money is not the only resource corporate citizens have. They hold far more, such as tangible and intangible assets and opportunities, and from the public interest perspective money may only be a fraction of the resources. Under normal circumstances, this fact is not fully revealed. But when a situation like COVID-19 occurs, it can be revealed dramatically. If non-profit organizations and corporate citizens themselves realize this, they will have a much richer view of each other beyond the simplistic notion of objects of fundraising or donations. They will also find it more advantageous to build long-term partnerships because they need to have a good understanding of each other to know the different possibilities.

The Beautiful Foundation reviewed and analyzed the articles of major newspapers in South Korea from February to May 2020 to examine the social contribution behaviors of Korean corporate citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic. The social contribution behaviors of large and small corporations in different industries varied, but they generally did not deviate from the following five types:

출처: pixabay.com

Type 1. Cash Donations

This is the most common behavior of corporate citizens at this time, and it might also be the most common behavior in normal times. Cash donations are made by companies or their representatives, and sometimes the employees’ donations are matched by the company. Cash donations are generally made on their own, but they can also be made with others such as commodity donations.

Type 2. Supporting the Supply Chains

Today’s companies develop market agility by building an ecosystem of supply chains outside themselves rather than having all the necessary functions within the company. Consequently, they need to maintain and develop the supply chains for their survival and also take responsibility for the stakeholders in relation to them.
During COVID-19, Korean corporate citizens have shown a range of actions such as making payments more frequently and quickly, providing the necessary goods or benefits, and directly funding to help their supply chains (“partner companies”) that are in hardship.

Type 3. Giving by Consuming

Korean corporate citizens have turned into consumers to help farmers and small business owners suffering from the pandemic. Specific examples are paying for meals at nearby restaurants in advance or buying crops and flowers that have fallen consumption.

Type 4. Commodity Donations

In general, given the same conditions, non-profit organizations would prefer cash to commodity. This is because commodity donations have a complicated logistical process, and it is difficult to procure the necessary items. When it comes to times of disaster, however,  the situation is different. It is hard to obtain goods that were normally readily available from the market. Masks are a typical example of this incident during this pandemic.
For these past few months, Korean corporate citizens with the ability to produce and procure the necessary goods have been of great help. Some companies that don’t produce the goods have even adjusted their production process to produce and donate items.

Type 5. Donating Tangible and Intangible Assets or Allowing Their Free Use

Korean corporate citizens have also shared their facilities and human resources, or intangible assets such as networks and platforms as well as management know-how. Many have provided their training centers as living treatment facilities or consultation to small companies that produce masks but run on limited supply to increase their production capacity.

The table below outlines cases of types 4 and 5:

Name of Corporation Industry Type of Donation Support Category Activities
Amore Pacific Manufacturing household goods Commodity Supporting medical staff Offered a product kit to medical staff in Daegu City
Coupang Distribution Commodity Medical supplies Donated KRW 180 million worth of hand sanitizers to Daegu City
Dong-A Socio Holdings Manufacturing and distribution of drugs Commodity Medical supplies Donated masks and hand sanitizers worth KRW 70 million in total to Daegu City and Gyeongbuk Province
GE Korea Manufacturing and distribution of medical equipment Commodity Medical supplies Donated medical devices worth KRW 210 million in total to Daegu City and Gyeongbuk Province
Hana Financial Group Financial services Service Programs Provided ‘care packages for infants and toddlers at home’ to 1,200 families in Daegu City and Gyeongbuk Province in accordance with the prolonged closure of kindergartens
Hanwha Life Insurance Financial services Allowing free use Use of facilities Provided training center facilities (in Yongin) to be used as community treatment centers
Hyundai GLOVIS Automobile logistics Service Provision of services Transported 1,000 tons of disaster relief goods free of charge
Hyundai Motor Group Automobile manufacturing Commodity Supporting medical staff Delivered lunch boxes and health supplements to the medical staff of Daegu Medical Center and Dongsan Hospital
Allowing free use Use of facilities Provided several training center facilities to be used as community treatment centers and temporary living facilities for overseas entrants
Commodity Medical supplies Developed and delivered disaster-response mobile applications (“Disaster Med Info”) to medical staff
Intromedic Manufacturing and distribution of medical equipment Commodity Medical supplies Donated KRW 1 billion worth of sterilizing products to Jeju Province
Kakao Corporation IT Allowing free use Use of platform Donated the proceeds by selling Givticon (give+emoticon)
Kolping Manufacturing outdoor products Commodity Medical supplies Produced and donated 1,000 full-body protective suits (worth KRW 23 million in total) to medical staff in Daegu City
LG Household & Health Care Manufacturing household goods Commodity Medical supplies Donated of hand sanitizers worth KRW 1 billion in total
Lotte Shopping Distribution Commodity Supporting medical staff Offered a set of health foods that enhance immunity to 7,000 nurses in Daegu City
Allowing free use Use of platform Provided online broadcasting sales channels to Jagalchi market merchants suffering from falling sales
Oriental Brewery Manufacturing and distribution of liquor Commodity Medical supplies Secured KRW 1 billion worth of masks and hand sanitizers through its nationwide purchase network, providing them to medical staff in Daegu City and Gyeongbuk Province
P&G Korea Manufacturing household goods Commodity Supporting medical staff Provided 3,000 sets of laundry detergent to Dongsan Hospital in Daegu City
Samsung Commodity Medical supplies Secured 284,000 masks around the world through overseas branches and donated them to Daegu City
Samsung C&T Trading Allowing free use Use of platform Imported and delivered non-woven fabric for mask filters to the Public Procurement Service of Korea
Samsung Electronics Electronics Allowing free use Use of facility Provided training center facilities (in Yeongdeok) as community treatment centers
Intangible assets Free managerial consulting Sent experts to small companies that manufacture masks, hand sanitizers, diagnostic kits, etc. to transfer know-how in improving production processes
Samsung Medical Center Medical services Intangible assets Dispatching manpower Dispatched medical staffs to community treatment centers
  • Source: Summary of South Korea’s major newspaper articles from February to May 2020.