(Photo courtesy of the Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service)
According to Forbes, corporate social responsibility, a.k.a. CSR, has been on the up and up for the past 10 years — and in the current political climate, it will become more essential than ever.
But wait — what is CSR?
We’ll be focusing a chunk of our reporting on the topic this month. For the purpose of our editorial calendar, we’re defining it this way:
- Social programs within a for-profit company that are not core to its business model, which could include employee giving programs, employee engagement in the form of volunteering, sustainable practices, etc.
The “not core to its business model” part differentiates it from social entrepreneurship, which is the act of attempting to solve some social or environmental problem through a for-profit company. CSR is tangential to a company’s mission; social entrepreneurship is a company’s raison d’être.
So when, say, Comcast donates $1.8 million to local nonprofits, that’s CSR. When NRG gifts $100,000 to MANNA following a public vote, that’s CSR.
But getting money from a corporation is an inherently different experience than getting money from a foundation, or from a private donor.
Here’s some advice from a few CSR experts on the dos and don’ts on nonprofit-corporate relations.
What should nonprofits keep in mind when working with corporate funders?
Tiffany Tavarez, PECO Corporate Relations:
- “Quantify your work. Most nonprofits have good content; they know their programming and the quality of services they provide. Many, however, cannot clearly identify their value of impact through numbers. We can talk about the why all day but the how is really where you can display the productivity and power of your nonprofit’s work.”
Joseph Divis, Assistant Vice President, External Affairs, Mid-Atlantic Region, AT&T Services Inc.:
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- “Continue to strategically engage a funder with opportunities for a site or program visit; give them an opportunity to see first-hand the work that is being supported after the contribution has been made. Invite them to an event. It creates an opportunity for continued personal interaction, can strengthen the relationship and, perhaps, enables some reciprocal PR like a social media post or a sidebar in a stakeholder newsletter which benefits both the recipient organization and the funder.”
Martina Mansell, RevZilla Corporate Giving Coordinator:
- “Look for opportunities to engage our employees. Telling people that we’ve donated a sum of money to an organization is fine, but being able to show our employees first-hand the important work that our donation is helping to accomplish is better.”
What should nonprofits NOT do when working with corporate funders?
- “All the best relationships — personal or professional — are ones that are handled with respect, courtesy and thoughtfulness. If you are introducing yourself for the first time, the next sentence out of your mouth should not be asking for something. It isn’t tactful. Allow for the person to get to know who you are just as much as what you do. How you carry yourself and conduct business is directly correlated to how you will manage a potential relationship.”
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