NCOC Featured Discussion

The Case for Corporate Citizenship

May 27, 2010
Corporate responsibility has become a key driver in securing stakeholder interest, consumer trust, and employee loyalty, and many corporations are stepping up accordingly to demonstrate their leadership and investment in civic engagement. Many firms actively promote and provide opportunities for their employees to share time, treasure, and talent to improve the civic health of their communities. Many make significant philanthropic commitments to strengthen institutions in local communities. Still others join in partnership with the private, public and nonprofit sectors to advance social causes.

Spurred by the “Business Strengthening America” campaign of more than 1,000 companies in the months after 9/11, the Summit of Corporate Volunteerism convened by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation in February 2008, and the ServiceNation Summit in September 2008, many organizations are moving in impressive ways to commit both the financial and human capital needed to advance corporate America’s role in supporting civic participation and engagement.

Their efforts are showing double bottom-line results in employee loyalty and revenue:

• Members on the 2009 Corporate Responsibility Officer’s 100 best corporate citizens list reported a 2.37 percent return shareholder value over three years, while the 30 “worst” corporate citizens experienced a negative 7.38 percent return.

• A Cone study found nearly eight of ten Millennials (those born 1980 and after) want to work for a company that contributes to society, while more than half say they would refuse to work for an “irresponsible corporation.”

• A 2010 CSR Perception Survey conducted by Penn Schoen Berland found 40 percent of respondents said they would take a pay cut to work at a socially responsible company, and 72 percent would sacrifice spending or salary to support corporate social responsibility initiatives.

• The same survey found 75 percent of consumers say corporate responsibility is important to them, and they are more likely to purchase products or services from a company after reading its responsibility agenda.


NCoC plans to spend the next few weeks highlighting some innovative ways corporations are engaging employees, giving back to communities, and integrating civically responsible business practices into their operations.

Stephen Jordan, Executive Director of the Business Civic Leadership Center at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has provided some interesting historical context and trends on corporate citizenship practices. Read his thoughts and provide your insights on the “movement.”

We want to hear from you: what are some corporate civic engagement models and practices you have found to be effective, engaging, and sustainable?
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5 Comments
By Donna Callejon at 1:53 PM on Jun 4th, 2010
At GlobalGiving we have the pleasure of working with a number of companies that have "gotten it" vis-a-vis CSR for many years, including Gap, Nike, Liquidnet Holdings and many others.

What we see is a shift, perhaps a trend, toward more authentic engagement of stakeholders - employees, customers, and suppliers - in these programs. This is happening on the philanthropic side of the shop - notably observed in the Chase Community Giving Facebook and Sam's Club Member voting campaigns that will determine a portion of those companies' charitable giving. It is also happening inside brands. The biggest and most innovative of these is the Pepsi Refresh Project (which we are proud to be part of), which is awarding over $20 million to ideas generated by individuals, non profits and companies...and selected by public vote.

CSR for the sake of risk management will soon become a thing of the past. True stakeholder engagement and authentic corporate policies and programs are the way of the future.
By Scott Anderson at 7:05 PM on Jun 9th, 2010
KaBOOM! is fortunate to work with a family of companies -- The Home Depot Foundation, Kraft, NBA Cares and others -- that take particularly forward-thinking approaches to corporate civic responsibility.

We’re seeing two particularly strong trends as the downturn challenges companies to find new, creative ways to sustain or increase their community commitments.

First, the White House’s call for a “new era of responsibility” and active citizenship, paired with the relatively low-cost, high-profile approach of team service projects, is driving a marked increase in employee volunteering. The trend has helped us build new relationships in this economy with Foresters, Blue Cross Blue Shield Companies and others that are gravitating toward opportunities to deploy large teams to make a lasting difference in communities (in our case through the hands-on construction of community playgrounds).

Second, many of our partners in this economy are finding ways to sustain or expand their cause support by leveraging their connections to consumers (especially through consumer fundraising), their advertising, and other assets that are valuable to us but have a lighter impact on their bottom line. 24 Hour Fitness recently rallied donations from three million members during a Family Fitness Month, Huggies is reaching out to tens of thousands of consumers on our behalf via social media, Dr Pepper Snapple Group issued a call to action to peer companies via their Wall Street Journal advertising, and more.

I believe this creativity, sparked by the downturn, is giving causes and companies the opportunity to test and expand the range of ways that cross sector partnerships can deliver value. It will be a powerful “silver lining” legacy of this recession.

By Drew Stelljes at 11:21 PM on Jun 10th, 2010
In a new age of CSR we must make sure we are not throwing corporate strategy at social problems. By inviting the non-profit sector to the board room table you can get the voice of the citizen. The sector is large, it is mobilized and it can be a powerful sector with help from the corporate sector. We must aim to work with communities to question norms and hopefully discover new ways to thinking about alleviating suffering- to move from charity toward justice. We must not allow ourselves to see social problems exclusively as easily managed needs to be met with charitable contribution and sporadic service. If we find ourselves sliding along the slippery slope we risk unintentionally perpetuating privilege, classism and power.

Instead our approach need be collaborative and participatory, based on partnerships with an expectation that all learn and all educate, that engagement deals with difficult, evolving questions that take time and effort with diverse strategies and approaches.
By Ravon Gardner at 12:01 PM on Jun 14th, 2010
Great information
By Daniel Bassill at 2:47 PM on Jan 14th, 2011
I think it is great that corporate leaders are recognizing the value of involving corporate resources (volunteers, dollars, technology, etc.) in social sector issues.

I think the Internet now enables people at big and small companies to share information with each other in ways that lead to higher quality involvement and impact from year to year.

As that happens, knowledge centers on the internet will become more and more valuable. One resource that I hope is includes will be maps showing the demographics of a region, and showing all of the non profits who do work related to specific issues. If corporate leaders use such maps, and overlay their business locations, where employees live, and where customers live, they can begin to focus their involvement on having a corporate footprint in more places throughout a region or the country than just a few favorite organizations, or just the corporate office city.

I encourage you to visit http://www.tutormentorexchange.net/mapping-the-programs to see how our organization hosts an information platform, with maps and a searchable tutor/mentor program directory, to encourage involvement from many corporations in all of the high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago.

We've helped a program grow in the Chicago legal community that has raised over $2.5 million since 1994 to fund operations of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs, and has encouraged numerous volunteers to reach out and join Chicago area tutor/mentor programs.

As other companies duplicate this it will create multiple streams of support for all of the different tutor/mentor programs, enabling them to better serve volunteers and youth.
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