Ten-year-old Tejas was forced to leave school and work in the cotton fields in India alongside his parents to supplement the family’s US $1.67 a day earnings. "It’s very difficult to work in cotton fields," says Tejas. "My back ached every day. I feared that snakes or spiders would bite me. I wished I could study. My friends used to ask me to go to school with them. I had to work."
According to a national survey, less than 20 percent of Americans said that their parents or school system had encouraged them to pursue a career in manufacturing. In response, Alcoa Foundation, the charitable arm of Alcoa, a manufacturing company pioneering the revitalization of the industry, teamed up with their new partner, Discovery Education, in an effort to bridge the industry’s unemployment gap through an online program named "Manufacture Your Future," which debuted in late May.
Building a strong, long-lasting relationship with a nonprofit is a great way for your company to engage in corporate social responsibility. In our June webinar, titled “Foolproof Partnerships – A relationship management guide,” representatives from three organizations discussed how to take advantage of existing networks, connect your philanthropy to the core of your business, and engage employees, executives, and customers as you establish a foolproof partnership.
A challenge that corporate citizenship practitioners often face is how to engage their customers in their citizenship activities. Developing these relationships can strengthen customer loyalty and contribute to a brand’s reputation. eBay, which provides a way for consumers to connect with cause through the eBay Giving Works platform and raise valuable funds for charity by buying and selling goods, has not only been successful in engaging customers in its giving programs, but has extended its reach to nonprofit organizations, brands, celebrities and the general public.
With employees in 30 countries across the world, Alcoa is truly a global company. Given the extent of its reach, Alcoa Foundation, the charitable arm of Alcoa, designs its community giving platform with this global audience in mind, developing scalable programs in partnership with select nonprofit organizations. In September 2013, Alcoa Foundation announced a global initiative for unemployed youth in ten Alcoa communities in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Jamaica, Spain, United Kingdom and United States. Through the Internships for Unemployed Youth Program, participating youth will receive the education and training necessary to pursue a career in manufacturing. Suzanne van de Raadt, Global Communications Manager, Alcoa Foundation, provided some insight into the history of the program and the tools Alcoa has used to manage its execution across geographies.
The Center for Corporate Citizenship has partnered with GivingTuesday.org (#GivingTuesday), a non-profit organization that aims to transform how people think about, talk about and participate in the holiday season. Through a unique blend of partners—charities, families, businesses and individuals #GivingTuesday harnesses the collective power of personal and corporate philanthropy and inspires people to bring attention to the season of giving.
Now entering its third year, the Skills-Based Volunteer Program at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA) is focused on making high impact, long-term progressive change for select nonprofit partners. To meet this end, BCBSMA recognizes the importance of leveraging local talent when implementing an impactful corporate citizenship initiative. This talent forms the foundation of the Skills-Based Volunteer Program in which recruited employees are paired with local nonprofit organizations that have a need for their particular skills and experience. Associates provide a wide variety of skills and expertise in traditional business functions, including human resources, finance and operations.
In partnership with the Human Resources Department, the Corporate Citizenship team established this program as a way to build the internal capacity of its nonprofit partners while creating an outlet to develop and showcase its employees’ core competencies. “We wanted to deepen BCBSMA’s support of its community partners by leveraging our most strategic investment – our associates, their skills, and their expertise,” explained Lucy Darragh, Director of Corporate Citizenship at BCBSMA. To fully realize the potential of such an initiative, BCBSMA reached out to Common Impact, a local nonprofit organization that facilitates cross-sector partnerships designed to tackle community challenges.
The definition of what it means to be a good corporate citizen has evolved over the years. It varies according to a company’s resources, giving priorities, corporate culture, and even with time. Natixis Global Asset Management (NGAM) underwent a period of internal reflection as it sought to develop a more strategic corporate citizenship program that produced greater impact on the local community.
Over the past 25 years, Fannie Mae’s Help the Homeless (HTH) program has raised awareness and $100 million for nonprofit beneficiaries working to prevent and end homelessness. Each year, tens of thousands of people get involved in the HTH program by participating in community walks, making a donation, being a sponsor, or volunteering their time to support organizations dedicated to serving homeless people.