(some of these comments may not be all that popular, but I did always appreciate the tenacity of Jerry McGuire’s mission statement)
Why do “goodness” or social good programs matter to companies (and if they don’t, why should they)? As we approach that time of year when most companies are more focused on trying to engage their employees, customers and other stakeholders in giving back, we at Benevity thought it a good time to launch a discussion on some of the “why” of these programs. And, in our typically helpful way, follow that up with some useful “how to’s” to address some of the challenges we talk about.
If goodness is to really matter to companies (including their employees, customers, the C-suite and investors) then we need it to have more business meaning. If it has more business meaning, there will be more sustainable investment in it. This logic is not complex, but it’s surprising how often this simple concept is lost, ironically as community investment and social action is more top of mind.
For instance, using this simple lens, the goal of a company’s workplace giving program should clearly not be to hit a donation target for a particular cause – no matter how laudable the cause. Achieving high participation rates and reaching donation or volunteering hour goals are desirable outputs of a program for sure, but the targeted outcomes of the program – the very reason for investing in the first place – need to be much more strategic.
And there’s the rub. People who run these programs know that there are opportunities to be realized from these initiatives that go beyond just doing Good (and don’t get me wrong, just doing Good is a great thing!). The reality is, if we want corporations to contribute more to causes and social impact initiatives, we have to focus on (and be willing to be proud of) the positive business impacts that these programs also generate. That is the essence of social enterprise, and it’s a key to our future.
In short, we need to Make Goodness Matter more to companies. And we’re talking about Making Goodness Matter in a tangible, measureable, business impact sort of way. Not in a “me too, I guess we need to do something like this” sort of way…We will not create either the social or business impacts that we seek by just ticking a box or giving money to charities and advertising that we’ve done it.
In the first edition of our newsletter, we touch on a few of the threshold impediments that seem common to many companies (check out our blog post Houston, We Have a Problem and see if any of these resonate with you…)
In the coming weeks and months, we’ll continue to challenge the status quo and address some of these topics with ideas as well as practical, actionable content, both from us and other thought leaders in the space. This is the kind of stuff we like to talk about, and we’re going to try to share it in ways that you find interesting, thought provoking and actionable. We would love to hear your comments and perspectives as well!