Common Impact Blog

The CSR Scoop - 6/12/2015

By Molly Weinstein | Jun 12, 2015

It’s Friday – time for the CSR Scoop, your roundup of the latest ideas, initiatives, and strategies that are driving our businesses and communities towards positive social change. Enjoy this week’s edition, which features articles about employee giving, volunteering time-off, philanthropic trends, those pesky millennials and much, much more.

The Scoop:


Ryan Scott proposes a compelling new employee giving idea: team volunteer grants. Unlike the traditional volunteer matching program that offers a monetary grant to a nonprofit for every hour an employee volunteers with that organization, a team volunteer grant is donated to a nonprofit when employees volunteer together as a group. We love this idea of encouraging team volunteering, since it will impel employees to volunteer (we’ve seen that employees – particularly millennials – prefer volunteering in a group), it will exponentially increase the contribution to the nonprofit, and, particularly in the case of skills-based volunteering, it will cede highly applicable employee skill gains in teamwork and collaboration that will feed back into work performance.

Salesforce, a trailblazer in employee engagement and corporate volunteerism, grants each of its employees a whopping 6 days of volunteering time off (VTO). Increasing numbers of Salesforce employees are using their VTO to offer pro bono support and, in doing so, are exponentially scaling their impact. A big congratulation to Salesforce and to Paul Walker, the engineer featured in their blog post, for the tremendous work they’re doing to share technology expertise and build critical capacity at nonprofit organizations.

Today’s companies have a dual mandate: to deliver a strong return to their shareholders and to uphold a co-equal responsibility to the economy, society, and the environment. Though these two priorities have historically been posed incompatible, we’re seeing more and more that they are, instead, complementary. “Integration of values into the creation of bottom-line profit is essential for effective adaptation in the 21st-century.”

And yet, the SSIR article, ‘Beyond Shared Value: Character as Corporate Destiny,‘ reveals that the core challenge in aligning these priorities is finding a systematized process that injects shared value deep into the basic DNA of a corporate culture. Failure to overcome this challenge results in ad hoc, siloed, and abstractly philosophical shared value activities, as opposed to a full integration into an organization’s behavioral core competencies.  In the article, SSIR offers up a few frameworks to help companies alter their characters from the inside-out, in order to achieve enlightened self-interest and become agents of beneficial change.

BCCCR’s 2014 State of Corporate Citizenship study found that, for the first time in a decade, the majority of executives anticipate resources for every dimension of corporate citizenship to increase over the next three years. This week, BCCCR released a blog post spotlighting some of those leading executives who are using corporate citizenship to simultaneously improve business and community outcomes.

“The changes headed our way require more than incremental progress. They demand meaningful, systemic change and, for businesses, that starts with a new mindset about corporate responsibility.”
– Michael Dell, Chairman and CEO of Dell

“Employees, customers, shareholders, and other stakeholders want to work for, do business with, and invest in companies that take their social responsibilities seriously and have a positive impact on the world…Corporate citizenship is not only the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do.”
– Jay Hooley, Chairman and CEO of State Street

We throw around the term “CSR” a lot. Heck, this series is even called the CSR Scoop! But what does CSR really mean? Jane Wood, CEO of Scottish Business in the Community brings us back to the basics to explore the ambiguous and dynamic definition of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

The 80 million millennials in the U.S. constitute over 25% of the American population, making them the largest generation in history. And millennials’ preference for values-driven work is redefining the workforce and the marketplace dramatically. As Therese Rowley explores in her HuffPost article, cause-driven companies don’t necessarily fulfill millennials’ demand for purpose; workers now seek a personal purpose and expect their business to support them in realizing it. Rowley advocates that companies, to meet this mandate, consciously architect a collaborative strategic planning process that aligns individual purpose with organizational purpose.

“At an organizational level, the most important way to connect the dots from personal purpose to strategic purpose is to authentically care about each opinion and demonstrate through collaborative processes that each contribution matters.”

Before individuals are value-conscious corporate employees, they are value-conscious students. And just as the corporate workplace is evolving to meet employees’ demand for social consciousness, business schools are doing the same. Daniela Papi argues that as student interest in the social return on their educational investment increases, the ranking institutions that dictate the “quality” of business schools must also reform their ways.

“If business schools are designed to shape the future by educating our future global business leaders, then the measurement of success should be on how well those business leaders are doing at shaping the world.”

Papi compellingly argues that rather than looking simply at how much student gain as a result of their MBA, business schools should also be ranked by how much their alumni give to the world.

Hannah Morgen authored an easily digestible 12-question self-assessment that highlights a number of critical factors that feed into an engaged workplace. We see pro bono work as a fantastic way to move the needle on a number of these indicators, namely by providing training and development opportunities, fostering collegiality, collaboration and team-building, and fulfilling workers’ demand for purpose-driven work.

At Common Impact, we’re big believers in the boundless power of volunteerism in the nonprofit, corporate, and public sectors. The State of the World’s Volunteerism Report 2015 found that volunteers are playing a vital – and largely undervalued – role in implementing people-centered development policies and in making governments more accountable and responsive to representing the interests of women, youth, and marginalized populations. The report encourages all governments to leverage the potential of volunteers to shape and improve national and international decision-making processes and Sustainable Development Goals strategies.

For too long, there’s been a power imbalance between nonprofits and philanthropies. The Nonprofit Quarterly, through their Philamplify campaign, is attempting to usher in a new era of effective, community-driven philanthropy by providing foundations with direct nonprofit feedback and critique. Yet they are finding it more difficult than anticipated to change the culture of deference and philanthropic isolation. Read more here about their drive to promote authentic debate among funders and nonprofits.

Given the inherent giver-receiver dynamic of the philanthropy/nonprofit relationship, do you think it’s possible to create a “safe space” for nonprofit feedback? And, further, must this imbalanced dynamic be inherent? How can we reframe the relationship as a partnership, abolish the nonprofit “scarcity mindset,” and keep philanthropies in check and in touch with community needs?

One foundation that is listening closely to its nonprofit partners and adapting accordingly is the Ford Foundation, which is why we were so excited to read about What’s Next for the Ford Foundation. Based on the feedback President Darren Walker received from community partners, the Foundation will redirect its funding away from traditional short-term program investment towards longer-term general operating support that enables organizations to focus on sustainable organizational strategy and effectiveness, rather than incremental outputs.

We have decided to invest in organizations as partners – and to give them the kind of trust, flexibility, and additional supports they need to do their best work.”

Thus, the Foundation is shifting its strategy to ask not,How do we make this grant successful,” but rather, “How do we help make this organization successful.” We’re looking forward to seeing the stronger, more sustainable, and more durable organizations that benefit from the Foundation’s enlightened approach to investment.

Net Impact New York’s Service Corps matches teams of passionate and skilled individuals with nonprofits and social enterprises, to tackle 12-week pro bono consulting projects that fulfill specific organizational needs. Check out the program if you’re looking to leverage your skills for impact, acquire consulting skills and experience, network with peers, and build meaningful relationships with NYC nonprofits and social enterprises.



Corporate communications and content marketing professionals are increasingly turning to multimedia to tell their CSR and sustainability stories. 3BL is offering a free webinar for corporate communications professionals looking to hone their multimedia production skills and take the plunge into visual storytelling.
June 16, Online

The process of CSR and sustainability reporting is challenging, fraught with a minefield of standards, audiences, formats, and stakeholder expectations. The future of reporting continues to be an ongoing debate, fueled by increasingly demanding, diverse audiences, and competing business priorities.  Join Corporate Citizenship, Citi Group and Ayala to discuss the biggest trends that are shaping the reporting landscape and what it means for reporting practitioners and businesses.
June 25, Online

Join Be Social Change for an intimate fireside chat about discovering your purpose and using creativity to drive business with Nancy Lublin, CEO of and Founder of Crisis Text Line. With deep insight on building sustainable organizations, Nancy is an inspiration and leader for anyone looking to turn their passion into impact.
June 25, New York