More than 90 per cent of businesses said they were equally or better equipped than charities to deliver social change, according to a snapshot survey.
The 142 respondents - all staff with corporate social responsibility budgets - were asked: "Do you think it would be more effective for businesses to use their core strengths to deliver social change or for them to give donations to charities to deliver social change?"
Fifty said they thought it would be much more effective for businesses to do it themselves and 35 thought this was "somewhat" true. Forty-four said charity donations and businesses could do an equally good job of effecting social change.
Eight respondents thought it was somewhat more effective for businesses to donate to charity to achieve social change, and five people thought donating to charity would be a much more effective way of achieving this goal.
The survey, by the polling firm YouGovStone for the consultancy the Social Investment Consultancy, found that 54 of the 85 people who thought businesses could be more effective in creating social change than charities were already trying to use their companies to improve society.
Jake Hayman, chief executive of the Social Investment Consultancy, said he thought the survey was representative of the wider business world.
He said businesses were becoming far more interested in doing good through their work rather than by donating to charity. "There’s been an evolution from wanting to sponsor or outsource the good you do to wanting to run it yourself based on your strengths," he said.
Hayman said there had been a "blurring of the line" between the charitable and private sectors. "People understand business can and perhaps should be a force for good as well as profit," he said.
"The idea that businesses will disregard charities as partners is very dangerous. We need to find models to make use of expertise that would otherwise be expensive to the charity sector or make use of the assets of business."