By Ruth Jones Nichols, CEO, Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore
Toward the goal of sustaining their organizations in an uncertain economic and political climate, many nonprofits are pursuing innovative, private partnerships that will allow them to become less reliant upon federal funds and legislative priorities. Diversifying revenue streams through private support offers charitable organizations more flexibility in the delivery of programs and greater financial certainty during economic downturns or shifts in government contracting.
Focused on performance and measurable impact, charitable organizations are seeking increased support from the business community, with an emphasis on potential business partners that have identified corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a critical component of their company’s mission. The adage “doing good is good for business” still holds true, but it’s time to rethink that notion when supporting nonprofit organizations. Beyond the obvious—tax incentives and the feel-good factor—charitable giving provides several benefits to businesses. Here are three:
Corporations that invest in philanthropic initiatives in the communities where they conduct business have an opportunity to proactively address social issues that threaten the local economy. For example, when we look at the hunger crisis and its effect on children, we find that hungry children are sick more often and hospitalized at a higher rate. These hospitalization costs are passed to the business community as insurance and tax burdens.
Further, studies show that employees who experienced childhood hunger are not as well equipped to perform in the 21st century workforce—which will ultimately impact the quality of talent essential to creating a vibrant economy.
Positive Public Perception
Corporate social responsibility initiatives offer businesses the opportunity to improve and/or maintain a positive reputation in the community. Companies that have prioritized giving back as part of their corporate mission gain a competitive edge with consumers and investors who are more inclined to support and invest in a socially conscious business.
Employee Satisfaction and Retention
Practicing corporate social responsibility is especially important for companies working to recruit and retain millennials. According to the recent Cone Communications Millennial Employee Engagement Study, 64 percent of millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work, and 64 percent will not accept a job if a company does not have strong corporate social responsibility values.
Companies that offer volunteer opportunities and other tangible ways to support a cause will have greater success, in terms of engaging this new workforce—which will make up 75 percent of workforce talent by 2025.
Simply put, corporate social responsibility is a true win-win for the business community and nonprofit sector. The benefits of adopting a CSR strategy far outweigh the potential consequences that may confront companies without a values-driven approach to business. Further, research has proven, time and time again, that the two most important elements essential to the success of any company are talent and consumers—both place significant value on a corporation’s responsibility to help address social problems with proactive philanthropy. Changes in CSR strategies can achieve a tremendous return on investment for companies and our community. Now, that’s food for thought to consider as business leaders.