Corporate Social Responsibility in Chicago

One of the things we hear consistently from our clients is that there is a lack of opportunities to come together to meet each other and learn about what others are doing in corporate social responsibility (CSR). At our annual event, the Social Impact Leadership Conference, we heard the same thing - people want more face time with one another, and more opportunities to learn, develop and grow their CSR practices. 

In response, we held the first in the series of stops for the Agile Social Impact Tour in Chicago earlier this month. Gathering together corporate philanthropy professionals from companies and organizations in the Chicago area successfully spurred a lot of great conversation, and provided a few key takeaways as a result. Here are a few themes from the discussions in Chicago.

Mission Alignment

We’ve spoken before about the trend in cause alignment for organizations to support and donate to those causes that align with the corporate mission. Aligning an organization’s CSR portfolio results in an overall greater impact to those causes. Companies are more intentional with their dollars, and using tools like impact reports and donation analyses to monitor their shift from just being “responsible” to really driving toward making a big impact. 

A key take away for NPOs? Be sure to research a company’s goals and objectives and state the case for why your charity aligns with that. If you leave it to them to do the work to connect the dots, you’re likely to lose out on potential support. 

It’s all about relationships.

“Asking for money in the first call is like asking for a kiss before the first date,” said panelist Nicole Johnson-Scales, SVP at FifthThird Bank. Need we say more? 

OK in case we do, the point is that corporate giving is more than just writing checks. We heard a lot of this at our Social Impact Leadership Conference this year. The need for everyone in the giving ecosystem to collaborate and cooperate is how we collectively become faster, smarter and more effective. 

Pro tip for NPOs: Budget is typically 80% or more allocated for any given year. When looking to start a new relationship with a company, a good start is with volunteering opportunities. 

Employee Choice Drives Engagement

Giving employees the opportunity to give to the causes they are passionate about is critical in engaging them to drive impact. Many organizations have now opened their doors to allow employees to give year round to any cause they want. We’ve seen that this not only increases employee satisfaction in the workplace, but also overall giving. Data shows that donors give an astounding 42% more overall when a company provides a well-designed program giving choice and recurring gift options. 

Want to learn more about employee choice and recurring giving? Check out this webinar.

So thank you to all our attendees, and our great speakers from organizations like Blue Cross Blue Shield, AbbVie, and Loyola University. We are looking forward to the next event coming soon in NYC. Stay tuned for details but in the meantime, check out the pics from Chicago on Facebook!