The CSR Scoop - 4/17/2015

Apr 17, 2015 6:10 PM ET
Campaign: The CSR Scoop

The CSR Scoop

Common Impact is excited to launch a new weekly blog series: The CSR Scoop. Every Friday, we’ll be sharing the scoop on corporate citizenship, employee engagement, skills-based volunteerism, nonprofit leadership, philanthropic trends, and more!  Subscribe to our blog or swing by our site at your week’s end to stay up to date on the latest and greatest initiatives, research and events in the CSR space.

The Scoop:

3BL Media posted a blog about skills-based volunteering: what is it, why it’s a powerful vehicle for employee engagement and social change, and how to launch a successful skills-based program.

“There is a growing trend towards implementing skills-based volunteering as it not only meets the community investment needs of corporations, engages employees, and enhances corporate culture, but it also provides a service valued by the nonprofit.”

It’s precisely that dual-sided value delivery that makes skills-based volunteering such an effective approach for both mission-focused and business goals, and one of the fastest growing trends in workplace giving.

The JK Group cited similar mutual benefits in their blog, Enhance Your Employees Experience & Productivity Through Skills-Based Volunteering. One point we loved in this piece was that skills-based volunteering offers a way for companies to match their employees’ diverse interests and talents by leveraging each worker’s unique strengths. People’s philanthropic predilections are quite varied. A skills-based volunteering program is an especially flexible form of corporate philanthropy, which enables a company to create varied, hands-on opportunities that fit the numerous interests, availabilities, and strengths of their entire employee base.

Only 13% of employees are engaged at work. That’s what we, and Realized Worth, call an employee engagement crisis!  Check out their blog about how volunteering is a tremendously effective fix for low employee morale and performance. A few compelling findings quoted in the piece:

  • 87% of employees who volunteered with their companies reported an improved perception of their employer, while 94% of employee volunteers believed volunteerism was a core component or positive influence on job satisfaction.
  • 64% of employees who actively volunteer say that volunteering with work colleagues has strengthened their work relationships.
  • Employees who volunteered “worked harder, were more willing to help their colleagues, [talked] positively about their company, [and] were less likely to waste time at work or miss meetings.”

LBG Canada, a network of socially conscious companies, released a blog post about some common challenges that companies face in running employee volunteer programs. An overwhelming surplus of volunteering options, opportunities that fail to align with employee interests and poor program infrastructure (e.g. unclear policies and processes, lack of formal communications, etc.) can all contribute to a lackluster volunteer program. To support companies seeking to overcome these hurdles, LBG released another post outlining how to design and implement, promote, and evaluate an employee volunteer program.

Our experience at Common Impact corroborates a number of LBG’s recommendations, such as carefully assessing the needs, desires and limitations of employees, securing management-level programmatic support, and measuring and communicating both qualitative outputs and quantitative program outcomes.

Causecast also offered expertise to companies looking to establish an employee volunteer program. A few of their top tips:

  • Promote causes that complement both the passions of your employees and your company
  • Strategically select nonprofit partners that are an appropriate fit for your company’s size, interests, and objectives
  • Seek opportunities that will stretch your employees and provide skills building and leadership training
  • Weigh the benefits and drawbacks of the various models of volunteering (e.g. day-of-service versus longer term engagement)
  • Share stories of your impact to get others involved and grow your program!

Mark Shamley, CEO of ACCP posted a powerful response to a recent USA Today article, which claimed that companies are “desperate to give themselves a corporate social responsibility makeover” due to worries about how a bad reputation could affect their corporate health in a market soon-to-be dominated by value-conscious Millennials. In his retort, Shamley argues that good corporate citizenship “isn’t just nice, it’s smart business.

Illustrating Shamley’s point, Business Standard published an interview with Ashwin Shroff, CMD of Excel Industries about the business advantage of being a responsible corporate citizen. Shroff explains how good corporate citizenship and a company’s competitiveness are inextricably linked and why “corporates should be accountable not just to the shareholders, employees and customers, but also to the society within which they operate.”  

Also bolstering Shamley’s argument, Ed Zitron, CEO of, authored a great article: Why Businesses That Are Purpose-Driven Come Out on Top. As purpose-driven start-ups continue to blur the divide between for-profit and nonprofit ventures, big companies are listening…and jumping on the bandwagon.

“Large corporations are also jumping on board because of the proven impact that changing a company culture has on the bottom line and their employees.”

Pro Bono Australia released an article about the widely lauded Shared Value approach, conceptualized by FSG’s Mark Kramer. In using Creating Shared Value (CSV) Theory, companies aim to create measurable business value by identifying and addressing social problems that intersect with their business, on the premise that the competitiveness of a company and the health of the communities around it are mutually dependent.”

In the article, Kramer explains that Shared Value is often mistakenly confused with philanthropy or CSR. He emphasizes that, “at its core, Shared Value is about business strategy. It’s not another name for Corporate Social Responsibility; it’s not another name for corporate philanthropy. The purpose of a strategy in business is to create a superior economic return by creating a sustainable competitive advantage.”

However, as we see that the trend in corporate philanthropy is to strategically design philanthropic initiatives to align with and bolster business strategy, might it be possible that CSR and Shared Value are becoming one and the same? And could this widespread use of the CSV in corporate citizenship initiatives be the game changer we’ve been seeking?

The Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship called out MassMutual’s FutureSmart financial literacy program as an excellent example of a corporate citizenship initiative that ties citizenship efforts to overall business strategy, leverages the core competencies of the organization and the unique skills of its employees, and makes the most of strategic partnerships.

We loved Nell Edgington of Social Velocity’s post this week about nonprofit leadership. Edgington posits that a number of the challenges faced by the nonprofit sector stem from “a fundamental lack of confidence.” Unlike the other inexorable challenges facing the sector like inadequate financial resources and an inherent authority imbalance between grantors and grantees, this issue is more easily rectified.

"[Nonprofit Leaders] must stand up and demand...what you truly need. And you start by articulating the value your organziation provides."

At Common Impact, we speak often of the skill gains that corporate employees reap from skills-based volunteering programs. Yet one of the less-touted benefits of these programs which we see time and time again, is the leadership development of our nonprofit partners. Nonprofit leaders frequently cite gains in confidence, business savvy, and management after partaking in a cross-sector partnership.

Nonprofit Quarterly covered the results of an interesting study about the generationally segmented preferences of donors and how nonprofits can work to engage their various donor audiences. Not surprisingly, Millennials showed a strong preference for volunteering, whereas the elder generation groups felt most engaged when they gave money.


Be Social Change and Catchafire are partnering to bring you Creating Impactful Volunteer Experiences for Your Organization, where you can learn to effectively manage a volunteer and create an impactful experience for the both of you
April 27, New York, NY

Net Impact NYC’s Professional Chapter is hosting a conversation with Marc Epstein about his experiences with corporations, impact entrepreneurs and developing nations. Also on the ticket are Florian Hoffman, Founder and President of The DO School and Common Impact’s very own Danielle Holly!
April 27, New York, NY

Interop Las Vegas, NPower, and The Community Corps are collaborating on an IT Skills Matching Event
April 27, Las Vegas, CA

The Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship is providing a Corporate Citizenship Strategy course for corporate citizenship professionals looking to develop a more strategic approach to their company’s citizenship efforts
May 6-8, Providence, RI

Stanford Social Innovation Review presents: The Fundamentals of Fundraising, a webinar which will be of interest to all nonprofit practitioners who have a stake in boosting their organization’s capacity to generate resources in order to create a sustainable impact
May 19, Online

Stanford Social Innovation Review brings you Data on Purpose: Creating Social Change with Data, a conference which will benefit anyone in government, nonprofit, business and academia who wants to learn about using data effectively, strategically, and securely within their organization
June 2-3, Stanford, CA