Laurence D. Fink, the founder and chief executive of investment firm BlackRock, informed business leaders at the world's largest corporations last week that they need to contribute to society if they want to receive the company's support.
Fink is one of the most influential investors in the world and his firm manages more than $6 trillion in investments, making it the world's largest investor.
"Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose," he wrote.
Analysts reported that the letter would likely cause a "firestorm" on Wall Street. However, this emphasis on corporate social responsibility has gradually been occurring over the last twenty years, and has intensified in recent years as companies and CEOs implement and publicize large-scale philanthropic initiatives.
"It's becoming less of an exception to the rule to have a company that focuses on understanding its role in society," Jeffrey Walker, founder of The Generosity Network and member of the Harvard Kennedy School's Center for Public Leadership, tells CNBC Make It. "It's changing."
In the past, companies gave money to specific causes depending on the interests of senior executives, Walker explains. Now, the process has become more collaborative as businesses work with one another, connect with non-profit organizations, governmental officials and include their employees.
"They're going there and thinking, 'What can we do to contribute to the change that we all agree needs to be in place?'" he says. "'How can I get my employees involved? How can I get my community involved?'"
Here are some companies that have stepped up their philanthropic efforts in recent years: