June 15, 2011 | cwinters

Celebrations and Citizenship

Today is IBM’s 100th Birthday….it is also my daughter’s 16th birthday – so it is a big day all around. Unlike the celebration I am planning – which includes a party bus and a jam-packed day (and night) of entertainment, IBM is celebrating their day with service to the community.

This is an important trend in a citizenship movement by major corporations…the notion that service to others is more important than simple philanthropy. Checks to support the arts, medical research and hosting galas are all fine. Indeed, many worthwhile causes couldn’t survive without it. But more progressive organizations are looking at their ability to impact their communities in a hands-on, service oriented way.

For CSR to meaningful, it must be relevant – internally and externally. A service-oriented approach bridges that relevance gap in one simple swoop. Employees who are involved in a hands-on service project feel better about their companies, and feel proud to be a part of them. And demonstration of philanthropy and citizenship is more accretive to reputation than talking about it.

Here are some examples of great companies and brands who bring this philosophy to life:

• Starbucks has partnered with the HandsOn Network, a non-profit that organizes volunteer projects, and has a goal to donate 1 million community service hours from its employees by 2015. This is in addition to the $22.4 million Starbucks distributed in 2010 in corporate giving and grants.

• Disney’s VoluntEARS program allows employees to volunteer for causes of their choosing and aids in raising money for charities that employees support. Disney VoluntEARS assist in more than 2,200 projects through 495,000 hours annually. Employees also raised $1.7 million through Disney’s assistance.

• Intel supports its employees to volunteer all around the world and matches every volunteer hour with a monetary contribution. Intel also uses its employees’ capabilities to establish technology in classrooms in developing countries.

Similar programs from MWW clients – Deloitte’s Impact Day, a massive celebration of the organization’s year-round commitment to workplace volunteerism, and Nikon’s work in local communities both home and abroad contribute to a service-oriented approach.

Relevant approaches to worthwhile causes, which is meaningful CSR.

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