The CSR Scoop - 5/01/2015

May 1, 2015 5:40 PM ET
Campaign: The CSR Scoop

We were excited to see interesting discourse this week on number topics near and dear to our hearts: cross-sector solutions, evolving business standards and strategies, purpose-driven careers, volunteer engagement, and more. Check out it all out in the Scoop and enjoy what we hope will be an ice cream-worthy weekend!

The Scoop:

Our hearts and hands go out to those impacted by the earthquake that struck Nepal last Saturday. The CSR community has mobilized in the face of this crisis, joining an active group of companies, corporate foundations, local chambers of commerce, humanitarian aid organizations and media who have responded swiftly to the disaster. 

If you’d like to support the relief efforts and first responders, please donate to Global Giving or the upcoming on-the-ground volunteer efforts of All Hands

“Responsible business is not just about how a business spends its money, but also about how it makes its money.”  British Responsible Business Network, Business in the Community released its annual Corporate Responsibility Index, confirming the shift towards incorporating CR into business operations. A few positive trends we were particularly pleased to see reflected in the numbers:

  • 99% of leadership regularly discusses CR at board meetings (up from 64% in 2004) and 75% have included CR in employee development strategy.
  • 82% of participating companies have taken environmental and social considerations into account when making corporate investment decisions (up from 63% last year)
  • 85% of responsible businesses calculate the financial value that CR brings (up from 65% last year)

The Monitor Institute released a new feature article about “wicked problems,” the multifaceted, dynamic, and intractable social challenges we face, and the ways in which they are being reframed and attacked with renewed vigor through solution ecosystems built by social entrepreneurs, governments, networks of nonprofits, and businesses.

As businesses are thinking more and more about the returns they generate along social and environmental, not only financial lines, they are finding “virtually unprecedented ways to apply their particular capabilities and expertise to challenges that governments and nonprofit organizations have struggled with for decades.”

What does this new inclusive ecosystem approach indicate for the problem-solving methods of tomorrow? “Decades-old divisions of public and private sector responsibilities are likely to become less useful and less justified…As part of this blurring [of the sectors], expect to see leaders and talent more frequently across sector lines. And expect to see the leaders who rise in business to have more encompassing visions and more passionate points of view on the biggest social problems of their era.”

…There is a slow, but inexorable march towards more responsible corporate citizenship,” said Arnie Weimerskirch in a Minnesota Star Tribune article that surveys the history of the corporate social responsibility movement. Weimerskirch made the optimistic prediction that, as corporations increasingly look beyond their shareholders to a broader community of stakeholders, we will see increased collaboration, shared value thinking, and integrated corporate social responsibility.

Net positive” is a new standard for businesses that stipulates that their positive impacts on the environment and society outweigh the negative ones. In other words, the natural word and society should be better off with companies than without them. SSIR explored the “net positive” vision and laid out some operating principles and metrics to ground the concept.

Deloitte’s HR Times blog released a great piece on the demand for accelerated learning in today’s fast-paced business environment.

In this new business environment, standard company-provided training is not enough. Workers will increasingly look for opportunities to learn by doing while on the job—not just to remain employable but to feel fulfilled.

Deloitte suggests that to meet employee needs and expectations, companies must develop scalable solutions that keep strong employees learning and contributing at a rapid pace. Common Impact has seen strategic skills-based volunteering as one powerful solution to meet employee demands for hands-on learning, professional growth, and fulfillment. What learning opportunities have you seen offered at your workplace?

For genuine employee engagement, combine learning and development with a culture of trust. John Schwarz of Visier shared how a leader can create a high-performing, highly engaged workforce by fostering an environment of trust, transparency and flexibility.

How can nonprofits and corporate volunteers execute engaging, meaningful, and mutually beneficial volunteer engagements? Ben Bisbee says approach a volunteer engagement like you would a dinner party. Just like a good host will always share the occasion of the dinner party, a volunteer site should put thought into their invite and share the impact and purpose of the volunteer engagement. Read on for more etiquette tips – for dining and for volunteering!

VolunteerMatch has brought together a number of thought leaders from the field of volunteer engagement to share their expertise in a new book, Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World.

While the volunteer engagement field is filled with instructive textbooks, editor Robert Rosenthal explains that, “In contrast, the purpose of this publication is to help us think differently about what’s possible.” We can’t wait to read what our peer contributors from, NTEN, Realized Worth, LinkedIn, and the Corporation for Community Service have to say about the future of volunteering!

Net Impact is here to support you in Making an Impact at Work. They’ve released an instrumental toolkit to help you achieve positive change through your job. Employees of all levels and specialties will find a number of resources to help them start a conversation at their organization about impact initiatives, identify and define projects, build community among coworkers and departments, and use impact opportunities to further their organization’s business goals.

Lost your purpose and passion for work? Fast Company shares how you can rekindle a healthy purpose and chart a road-map to self-clarity. When we are able to connect what we do to pay the bills with our greater purpose, we benefit from higher self-clarity and self-esteem, or worth.”  

Dan Walker Smith claims that “the smartest thing [he] ever did” for his career was volunteering. Volunteering provided him with a valuable perspective on how he could better position himself within his firm, introduced him to like-minded colleagues who became future collaborators, and boosted his motivation to perform well in his job.

Strategic philanthropy is defined as outcome-oriented, result-oriented and effective philanthropy. Sounds like a no brainer, right? Not quite. A number of leaders in the philanthropic world are questioning strategic philanthropy, claiming it is impractical, provides grantmakers with a false sense of certainty, and ignores the personal underpinnings of giving. Read the debate on SSIR.

The annual Global Philanthropy Forum was held last week in Washington D.C., where leading philanthropists and investors gathered to discuss how to marshal the collective energies of the public, private and social sectors to promote shared prosperity. Check out some of the highlights from the conference here.

Earlier this week the Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF) released the results of their State of the Sector survey about the health of the nonprofit sector in the U.S. Their headline findings: many nonprofits are finding themselves unable to meet a growing demand for services and are still struggling to achieve financial sustainability. Nevertheless, nonprofits are improving efficiency, innovating, and saving when they can. NFF has provided a wealth of interesting and important data about programmatic, financial, and operational issues facing nonprofits across the U.S. – learn more here.

Struggling to find professional development opportunities for the senior staff at your nonprofit? How about a staff swap? Having seen tremendous growth that comes out of immersing oneself in another organization, Common Impact is all for the idea!


The 14th Annual Responsible Business Summit is fast approaching. This year’s summit will cover hot topics in CSR, communications, HR and supply chain.
May 18-19, London, UK

200 days before the UN Climate Change conference in Paris, the Business & Climate Summit will provide a unique forum for business and government leaders to demonstrate bold action, adopt forward-looking strategies, and call for ambitious policies to scale up solutions.
May 20-21, Paris, France

Be Social Change is hosting a workshop on Building the Foundation for a Purpose-Driven Career, Business and Life. This session will teach you how to identify and connect with your purpose, unlock your passions and talents, and begin developing a plan of action to build a career and life filled with meaning, financial freedom, and impact.
May 25, New York, NY

Join Be Social Change and Alethea Hannemann of Taproot for a class on Making Innovation Real – Finding and Farming the Small Insights that Lead to Big Impact. In this class you will learn to cultivate an innovation-friendly workstyle, identify areas for experimentation, and talk through some of the easiest ways to make creativity and envelope-pushing part of your day-to-day routine.
June 15, New York, NY

MCON is an annual event for artists, media, social entrepreneurs, corporate, nonprofit and public leaders, and passionate people around to country to learn about how the millennial generation is actively shaping our communities and our world.
June 24-25, Chicago, IL

Save the date for the 2015 Net Impact Conference, where student and professional leaders will come together to discuss the trends at the forefront of the impact sector. Keynote speakers include Chelsea Clinton, Sue Desmond-Hellman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Daniel Lubetzky of KIND.
November 5-7, Seattle, WA