The International Corporate Philanthropy Day (ICPD), an advocacy day led by Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of February each year, where CEOs, employees, nonprofits and government leaders come together and share tips on everything from socially-sustainable business practices, volunteering, social entrepreneurship and philanthropy.
Now in its ninth year, ICPD is observed around the country through corporate philanthropic initiatives, in-depth reports on progress from last year and newer opportunities ahead, and raising awareness of the important role of corporate philanthropy as a force for social good. In commemoration of ICPD, the Empire State Building in New York and clock tower of the Wrigley Building in Chicago light each year in blue and green for this day.
In New York City, events such as the Board of Boards CEO conference hosted by CECP, A Billion + Change: Mobilizing Billions in Skills-Based Volunteering hosted by A Billion + Change, and several partnership events such as Breaking New Ground: Partnerships for more and better jobs for young people hosted at United Nations Headquarters took place on Monday, February 27th.
In a two-part series, ConceptLink will share some of the highlights from the two major events in New York City that direct the course of CEO leadership in socially-sustainable businesses and skill-based volunteerism from corporate America for the coming year.
A Billion + Change held a celebratory event at Morgan Stanley to recognize its 78-company strong network, who has pledged a total of $1.6 billion in skills-based volunteer services to nonprofits. Launched in 2008 by the Corporation for National and Community Service, A Billion + Change is a national campaign to mobilize billions of dollars of pro bono and skills-based volunteer service from corporate America by 2013.
Corporate volunteerism is by no means a new idea. However, the past several years we have seen an explosion in thought leadership and the recognition of a need for a deeper relationship between the corporate and social sector. There has been a major shift from “donate-a-day” volunteering, where a corporate team might give a few hours to read to students, build a swing set, or help at a soup kitchen, to Skills-Based-Volunteering (SBV), which enables corporate volunteers to use the skills of their vocation to assist nonprofits with more strategic, systemic needs.
A Billion + Change attendees heard from Gary Bagley from New York Cares, who described how Morgan Stanley’s Strategy Challenge team was able to save them $30,000 annually by recommending improvements to its volunteer on-boarding process. Could the Morgan Stanley employees have painted a cafeteria or cleaned a park? Definitely, but the changes implemented as a result of their social enterprise initiative yielded infinitely higher benefits both for the nonprofit and for Morgan Stanley.
Indeed, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is now being redefined as more than just a “nice thing to do”, but as a strategic business decision with real bottom-line benefits. As facilitator Deirdre White of CDC Development Solutions remarked, companies are starting to realize that CSR does benefit the triple bottom line – people, planet and profit. For the employee, CSR is an opportunity for skill development and building a connection between personal values and professional work. Employees who engage in CSR activities also report an increased level of enjoyment of their work. This benefit translates to the company as well, as a happier and higher skilled workforce has been shown to increase employee retention and loyalty to the company.
CSR also gives the company access to new markets – especially opportunities to do business for those at the bottom of the pyramid – and increased opportunities to share solutions with innovators around the globe. And, a commitment to social sustainability of their products, services and practices from corporations can have enormous benefits for the planet and its people.
And, of course, social good organizations benefit from access to highly skilled resources and new technology that would not have been financially accessible to them without reach and resources of corporate America.
The celebratory event was a great opportunity for CSR and philanthropy enthusiasts to share ideas about this fascinating and growing practice. Are you a nonprofit or SME interested in CSR partnerships? Contact ConceptLink for more information and we can assist you.
For further reading, New York Cares published a blog last year with some great statistics about the benefits of CSR to companies. Also, check out Morgan Stanley’s strategic priorities in making a positive contribution to its stakeholders.
Images courtesy: CECP and A Billion + Change.