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- January 21, 2016
- Rob Bernshteyn
“Deduct or donate” has become a familiar question at the grocery checkout. If you bring your own grocery bags, you save the store a few pennies. Instead of pocketing that savings, the grocer instead asks you to decide whether to deduct it from your bill, or leave it with them to donate it to a local non-profit.
Grocery stores are far from the only companies doing this. Baking charitable donations into a larger financial transaction is a new a trend in corporate social responsibility. There’s actually a term for it: Embedded giving. We’re pleased to announce that we’re bringing embedded giving to B2B transactions through our Coupa Advantage program. We think it’s a quadruple win, for non-profits of course, but also for buyers, suppliers and Coupa employees.
Giving back as a company
We take corporate social responsibility seriously. Our employees have helped build houses for Habitat for Humanity. Every year employees fill barrels in the office for Toys for Tots, and we recently partnered with United Way for employee giving. But we wanted to give back as a company as well, and as a venture funded company we didn’t feel right about taking investor money and donating it to charity.
So, we thought about our strengths and our resources and what we could do together.
We own and operate a transactional platform that helps corporate buyers optimize their spending—saving them more than six billion dollars to date. We already embed a lot of functionality into it, such as regulatory, policy and contract compliance, and analytics. Through our analytics engine, we have access to a lot of data about what companies are buying and selling. We employ experts in every area of spend management and each day we work with customers who are experts in sourcing and buying.
It seemed like if we were willing to work a little harder, by working with our customers to aggregate and sanitize purchasing data, we could use that information and get better deals for everyone who uses our platform.
That was the genesis of Coupa Advantage. Big companies have big sourcing and procurement organizations that have already gone out and used their purchasing power to get the best possible deals. There’s no further discount available.
Smaller companies that don’t have as much buying power aren’t able to get these discounts on their own. But if they’re a Coupa customer buying through Advantage, they can get discounts negotiated via our Coupa Advantage team’s efforts. And, even big companies sometimes have categories they haven’t sourced, so they can benefit from Coupa Advantage as well.
For suppliers, it’s sometimes difficult to reach these small to mid-size companies. It would take a lot of time and effort and sales and marketing dollars to find them, establish relationships and do business with them. By participating in Coupa Advantage, they might give up a little in margin but make it up in volume since new and existing Coupa customers can buy from them with little extra effort on their part.
It works a lot like a group purchasing organization (GPO), but optimized for the greater good. Its also embedded right into the Coupa platform and available to every customer. That’s already a win for buyers and suppliers.
Multiplying the wins
Taking a step further, we thought, maybe there’s a way to get some of those savings to non-profits that our employees and the companies in our ecosystem care about. So, we worked a little bit harder still to embed giving into the transaction, making it an even bigger win. It enhances corporate social responsibility programs for buyers and suppliers without any extra effort on their part, and it brings something that both can feel good about to what can sometimes be an adversarial transaction.
So far this year we’ve been able to donate to 31 local, national and international non-profits chosen by Advantage participants, who are our customers, partners, suppliers, and employees. We anticipate that as Coupa grows, and Coupa Advantage grows, together we’ll be able to donate millions to select charities, delivering on embedded giving at its finest.