Most large corporations have developed a strategy for aligning with the social/societal issues that they believe are relevant to their business. After the social strategy has been approved, most managers are effective at focusing their company’s resources on the priority issues and the community organizations that address these issues. While I’m encouraged that corporations have articulated a strategy, I often see executional gaps in three key areas:
Partnerships with Non-Profits: Many corporations support charities that dont deliver to the degree that they could or should in terms of credibility, promotional reach, stakeholder leverage, and opportunities for employee engagement. As a result, there are missed opportunities in terms of leveraging new marketing and sales channels, gaining influence with regulators, involving employees, and so on.
Communications: Companies that excel at marketing their brands dont always know how to communicate their social purpose programs. The arsenal of conventional communications tools may need to be complemented or replaced by other initiatives such as communicating with and through charitable partners.
Business Value: Mangers who cant demonstrate their programs material contribution to the corporations core business risk being marginalized and their programs remain vulnerable to being reduced or eliminated. Ways to demonstrate business value include having a champion at the executive level, using the same metrics other operational areas, issuing progress reports that coincide with other internal reporting (e.g. monthly, quarterly, etc.), benchmarking and evaluation as needed to foster continuous improvement, and eliminating programs that arent performing.