Guest post by Cindy Hallberlin
If one thing became clear this morning, it’s that the passion from the corporate sector to create meaningful and positive impact in our society is growing, and rapidly at that. I had the privilege of attending an event for A Billion + Change, a national campaign to mobilize billions of dollars in skills-based and pro bono volunteer services to help build the capacity of nonprofit organizations to effectively meet community needs. Several of the heavy-hitters from corporations, government agencies, and nonprofits were there: Capital One, HP, The Case Foundation, The Corporation for National and Community Service, and Points of Light Institute, to name a few.
Jean Case, Co-Founder of The Case Foundation, reminded us that “America’s businesses—small and large—possess an abundant wealth of strategic skills and talent that nonprofits need now more than ever before.” Understanding the impact that the private sector can play in addressing complex social issues is critical, both to the success of businesses and nonprofits alike. Although corporations juggle their commitment to shareholders and a worldwide base of customers, there is also tremendous value in offering volunteer services. In fact, research shows that pro bono and skills-based volunteerism help companies enhance their recruitment and retention rates and improve employee morale, productivity, and loyalty. The business value of pro bono service extends to consumers as well—86% of Americans say they are likely to switch from one brand to another that is about the same in price and quality if the other brand is associated with a social/community cause.
(If you work for a company interested in joining the campaign, visit A Billion + Change.)
In my role at Good360, I grapple with the significant and diverse needs of thousands of charities who struggle to survive in a challenging economic environment. We also partner with thousands of generous companies, who in addition to donating volunteer services, donate millions of dollars of goods. One of those companies is HP, who was represented in the panel discussion by Caroline Barlerin, their Director of Global Community Involvement. Caroline noted that we can create shared value and evolve corporate social responsibility from traditional philanthropy to a fully integrated component of business. And she should know. HP has one of the most progressive and impactful global citizenship programs that provides not just four hours per month to each employee to volunteer, but also donates millions of dollars’ worth of technology to charities selected by HP employees.
As a nonprofit leader yourself, I urge you to think strategically and creatively about cross-sector partnerships and how to best implement them. At a time when many of our organizations lack the capacity and resources to fully achieve our visions, we need to involve new players in the game. Insights from a different point of view on our communications and marketing, governance structure, financial analysis, and technology infrastructures can only help our organizations improve. Corporations, from our perspective, can also make a big difference by donating their products to people in need. In times of great need, there is great opportunity.
Cindy Hallberlin is the President & CEO of Good360, a recovering trial attorney, mother of four, and devout culture vulture.