Corporate citizenship professionals know the business and social value that can be achieved by furthering their efforts through strategic and thoughtful partnerships. Many environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues are widespread and pervasive, and can only be tackled through the active involvement of a multitude of people and organizations, each bringing their own unique skillsets. Earlier this month, a historic partnership was created to tackle of the most pressing issues of our time, as Chinese leader Xi Jinping and President Obama committed to limit greenhouse gases. As part of the deal, China agreed to cap its rapidly growing carbon emissions by 2030 or earlier, and will attempt to increase its share of non-fossil fuels to 20 percent of the country’s energy mix by 2030. The United States plans to cut emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
Creating public-private partnerships in corporate citizenship is rarely easy. Scorecards, conference calls, memoranda of understanding, and that’s before you’ve even begun the actual project. So why are CSR professionals seeking more partners, further collaboration, and more strategic alignment?
One of the biggest reasons is because stakeholders, especially consumers, are noticing who your partners are and examining the details of your work together. A 2010 Nonprofit Marketing Trend Tracker survey found that 60 percent of respondents indicated that they actively seek partnership details before supporting a cause and 75 percent of American consumers reported that they wanted to hear about the results of a corporate citizenship partnership, including the effect on the social issue or money raised for the cause.
The nonprofit sector is a powerful force in the U.S. economy. According to the Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University, more than 70 million people work and volunteer in the nonprofit sector. Nonprofits employ more people than every other sector except retail and manufacturing, and their revenue accounts for nearly 10 percent of the U.S. GDP. As a result, recipients and funders alike have a serious stake in a nonprofit’s ability to reach the best possible decisions, work effectively, and sustain itself over time. Nonprofits are vitally important to the health and wellbeing of the United States as we know it.
Why do we invite speakers to address audiences for important occasions? Wouldn’t it be more efficient to communicate ideas in print?
If you were going to learn about an important initiative of your firm, would you prefer to receive a memo or to hear the news from a person? Why?
When you prepare a presentation outlining a corporate citizenship effort, how much time do you spend thinking about your delivery? Your voice? Your nonverbal communication? Your language? Your organization? Or do you think mostly about your message – the ideas, the “content”?
The way we approach corporate citizenship issues determines whether they will be challenges for our organizations, or whether they will be opportunities. A winning approach requires the cultivation of a clear vision, and the strategic setting of goals to achieve it. Without them, our corporate citizenship efforts will remain tied fast to their anchors, or drift aimlessly on the sea.
Earlier this month I was in Denver with the Center’s Community Involvement Roundtable. As always, it was a dynamic two days filled with animated discussion, shared challenges, and best practices. Much of our focus for this recent meeting was engaging employees across the professional spectrum, from new hires to pre–retirees, though the conversation extended to retirees as well. This focus on employee engagement is not surprising, as the majority of executives surveyed in the Center’s forthcoming 2014 State of Corporate Citizenship study reported that recruiting and retaining employees are important business goals that are aided by the contribution of corporate citizenship.