Why at the Satell Institute Organizations Pick Their Own Nonprofits to Support



One of the cardinal principles of the Satell Institute (SI) is that it is cause agnostic. It encourages corporate members to decide for themselves, from among the broad multitude of worthy nonprofits, how they wish to direct their corporate philanthropy.


SI is cause agnostic because it believes in free enterprise, which creates the resources enabling corporate philanthropy in the first place. Also, it believes that the nonprofit sector of the economy and society is best developed through the principles of free enterprise.

The Institute believes in what the intellectual father of free enterprise, Adam Smith, called the “invisible hand“. In other words, that the freely made choices of individuals and companies will do more and better for the well-being of our communities and country than the top down central planning of any collective decision-making system, however well intended. This is also to encourage nonprofits to effectively make the case for support of their institution.

Complete Freedom to Choose

The Satell Institute believes the same principle applies to the work of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). We believe our corporate members having complete freedom to choose the nonprofit missions they wish to support is the best way to maximize the impact for good of these investments in the quality of life of our society.

SI Founder Ed Satell said: “We know freedom works.” Satell continued, “Being cause agnostic is about believing in the power of freedom. This encourages business to support those causes they care about most. That keeps business committed to the process and more importantly the outcome.

And it’s important to know that although the four-year pledge is made through the Satell Institute, no funds, no monies at all come to or pass through the Institute. All funds go directly from the business or foundation to the nonprofits they choose. True free enterprise.”

Firm and Proud Commitment

SI Advisory Board member, Craig Snyder, President and CEO of the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, explained it this way: “It may seem counterintuitive that SI isn’t seeking to rally the corporate community to support some specific type of nonprofit cause — better health or education, for example — but by giving the members the choice as to how to invest their CSR resources it maximizes the total dollars on the table for the nonprofit sector as a whole and it ensures that the donors to any particular nonprofit forge the closest and most effective possible relationship with that nonprofit and its mission, because the donor has consciously chosen that cause as its own as well,” Snyder said.

The term “agnostic” can imply being noncommittal, perhaps even unable or unwilling to make a tough decision. Not so on the principle that the Satell Institute is cause agnostic.

In this case the term means a firm and proud commitment to freedom of choice and action in a marketplace of options, and all the good for humanity which flows from that freedom. What’s more, 87% of consumers now say they care about companies investing in causes in their communities.

New Special Development Opportunity for
Nonprofit Affiliate Leader Members of the Satell Institute

In November, the Satell Institute will convene its first private Nonprofit Leadership Seminar for Satell Institute Affiliate Members at The Franklin Institute with a focus on how to attract for-profit financial supporters and partners.

This will be an unprecedented opportunity for nonprofit leaders to be able to hear, interact with, and learn from nonprofit CEOs successful in this area, as well as for-profit CEOs and CSR executives about how to attract and maintain such collaborations and effective CSR initiatives. The Seminar will also feature vibrant interactive leadership round table discussions and idea exchange which are highly valued.

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