Where fundraising and corporate responsibility meet

publication date: Jul 29, 2011
author/source: James Temple
People often ask me, "So what is corporate responsibility anyway, and how is it changing the ways businesses donate money to nonprofits?" To preface the conversation, the term "corporate responsibility" has been a work in progress over the past decade or so. James Temple photo

Businesses have gone through a fundamental shift in the ways they look at supporting their communities.  Textbook philanthropy has been transformed into something much more strategic and holistic.  Today, savvy businesses look beyond simple philanthropic initiatives and ask how those operations align with the social, environmental and economic values of their stakeholders. 

Growing your influence

It's no longer about how a business spends its money (philanthropy included). It's also about how a business makes its money. That means digging deep and looking at supply chain management, human rights and procurement practices.  

In this context, the wheel of opportunity has become much larger for the fundraising community.  You can frame your pitch to look at how a partnership with you would help to strengthen the key areas of a corporate responsibility portfolio. You can specifically address such issues as governance, transparency, environmental sustainability or diversity - areas a potential corporate funder has likely identified as a priority for its business. 

In the January 2011 issue of the Harvard Business Review, an article called "Creating Shared Value" described a growing number of companies developing new approaches to integrate and communicate their "intersection between society and corporate performance."

Many of them have begun to take the emphasis off what the business is "telling" society, and shifting towards a conversation among their many stakeholder groups.   Here's where a not-for-profit can play a part.  I cite my previous articles on how not-for-profits can empower businesses through a common language and/or help companies better understand issues such as advocacy within the sector.

Here are two ways your not-for-profit can create this new pitch.

Consider the intersections between the goals and values of your not-for-profit and the business

Look beyond a funder's areas of focus or how programs align with funding streams.  Ask yourself how your values align with the company's own approach to corporate responsibility.  Look at how your operations integrate good social, environmental and economically transparent practices into your decision-making processes.

Talk about how your programs help strengthen a company's corporate responsibility goals

Once you understand how your prospect company approaches the creation of shared value through its own programs, look at how your similar processes and approaches can augment the company's story and build upon its success. 

You might help to educate employees through training and development. Or you might describe how your approach to diversity, the environment, or human rights aligns with their business goals. Every little bit helps your business case.

Ultimately, corporate responsibility looks at ways to integrate good values into decision-making processes.  As the breadth and depth of this conversation increase, so do fundraisers' opportunities to highlight how their not-for-profits can help strengthen material outcomes.  It's about creating shared value through a win-win approach to strengthen organizational effectiveness: otherwise known as sustainability!  

James Temple is the director of corporate responsibility for PricewaterhouseCoopers Canada and director of the PricewaterhouseCoopers Canada Foundation. He oversees a team responsible for integrating good social, environmental and economic values into PwC's decision-making processes.  James is a featured presenter at international conferences, speaking on the value of developing strong corporate-community partnerships.  He co-chairs the Association of Corporate Grantmakers and sits on the Advisory Board for the Institute at Havergal College.

Contact him at 416-815-5224, email, or visit http://www.pwc.com/ca/corporateresponsibility.

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