18 Apr Good360 at the ACCP Conference: How Companies Should Think About Empowering Social Good
In 2015, IO Sustainability and Babson College released a groundbreaking report on corporate responsibility (CR) and sustainability called Project ROI. The report found that corporate citizenship can deliver tangible, financial results for businesses — but only if it’s done well.
The Association of Corporate Citizenship Professionals or ACCP helps corporate leaders do just that within their respective organizations. Each year, the independent, member-driven association gathers the best thought leaders on CR at its annual conference to share ideas, insights and inspirations, all of which were in abundance at ACCP’s confab in Atlanta this past month.
Good360 participated in the conference as a key exhibitor, spreading the word about our unique giving model bridging the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. We have partnered with hundreds of corporate donors, including ACCP members such as The UPS Foundation, Walmart, United Airlines, The Dow Chemical Company, Ecolab, JPMorgan Chase, and The Home Depot.
Our team also had the opportunity to listen in on many of the inspiring and informative sessions at the Corporate Citizenship Conference, a four-day event with 71 speakers and 266 attendees. Here are some of the most notable, actionable takeaways from those talks, as highlighted by Erica Bader, the VP of content and learning at ACCP, in her wrap-up presentation:
Know your role: Rich Maiore, president of Rocket Social Impact, a CR agency “on a mission to help organizations go further,” presented a framework for “Breaking Through the CSR Communication Clutter.”
To ensure effective communication, brands and organizations need to define the role of the company and what value they can bring to the table. Maiore broke down these roles into six key categories and provided an example of each:
- Incubator: develops and supports new ideas (Verizon)
- Multiplier: drives incremental impact through collaboration (T Mobile)
- Catalyst: sparks new initiatives for others to learn and adopt (Dell)
- Innovator: offers direct program in addition to grants (JetBlue)
- Convener: brings stakeholders together, facilitates engagement (State Farm)
- Thought Leader: raises the bar with bold efforts (CVS)
Decide which role your company should play and then communicate that out to your stakeholders.
Think before you act: Peter Horst, founder of CMO, Inc, hosted a session on “Marketing in an Era of Division: New Rules for a New Reality.”
Before deciding how your company should engage on social issues, Horst suggested doing some homework first:
- Anticipate the hot spots (know where there are challenges that your company might need to weigh in)
- Build the content (think about what you would say before you have to say it)
- Enroll key partners and influencers (consider who in your organization needs to be having conversations about social issues and how the company might respond)
- Audit for vulnerabilities (figure out where people might push back on you)
- Practice, practice, practice (run drills and have processes in place to respond effectively)
- Set up your radar (create listening posts to figure out what’s happening in your community so you know when to weigh in)
Be authentic: Mandy Ryan and Maureen Flynn, from Changing Our World, a fundraising and philanthropic consulting firm, spoke about “The Authenticity Opportunity: Substance Over Splash in Corporate Citizenship.” They offered an “authenticity checklist” for companies to go through as they decide what social issues to tackle:
- Examine your current citizenship strategy and identify opportunities to leverage your company’s strengths
- Be aware of and consider your company’s risks, “social imperfections,” and unintended consequences
- Understand your company’s position on politically charged topics
- Ensure you have strong partnerships with marketing and communications teams
- Be sure to poke holes in new corporate campaigns, commitments and programs
- When it comes to social commitments, consider the ways to infuse the four attributes of authentic corporate citizenship:
- Have a long-term commitment and strategy
- Get skin in the game by committing funding
- Leverage core assets
- Invite third-party advocates to tell your story
Prepare your disaster strategy: Joe Ruiz, director of the UPS Humanitarian Relief Program, spoke on “Making Your Disaster Philanthropy and Engagement More Strategic. Ruiz and The UPS Foundation are longtime Good360 partners, and also participate in the Good360 Disaster Recovery Council.
Ruiz said companies must have a plan already in place for disaster relief — it won’t work if it’s built on the fly. He suggested companies think about obvious ways for responding (“we will collect goods”) as well as less obvious actions (“how should the CEO respond?”).
In a disaster, take the opportunity to partner with competitors and create relationships to show the community that we can be strong together, Ruiz said. The concept of collaborating across sectors, even with competitors, is a critical learning that we’ve promoted in the Good360 Disaster Recovery Council.
The overall theme of the conference can be neatly summed up in a simple, yet powerful statement that came out of a panel on “Social Activism in Corporate America,” led by Julie Hootkin and Josh Chaitin from Global Strategy Group, a PR and communications firm for nonprofits:
“Businesses don’t thrive if the community struggles, and businesses can’t be successful if the community isn’t.”
At Good360, we are firm believers in the mutualism that can come out of corporate citizenship for businesses and the communities that they support. It’s an approach that we’ve been advocating for years and continue to support with our endeavors to bridge the nonprofit and for-profit worlds.