Impact Makers: International Paper

International Paper is one of the world’s leading producers of fiber-based packaging and pulp. By sustainably creating products that consumers depend on from responsibly sourced, renewable resources, International Paper operates in a manner that does not compromise the needs of future generations. As a result, their vision is to be among the most successful, sustainable, and responsible companies in the world. 

In order to pursue this vision, International Paper has developed four Vision 2030 Goals with achievable and measurable targets to help drive sustainable outcomes for people and communities, the environment, and their customers. Here’s a snapshot of their Vision 2030 Goals:



  1. Healthy & Abundant Forests: Conserve and restore 1 million acres of ecologically significant forestland.
  2. Thriving People & Communities: Improve the lives of 100 million people in their communities.
  3. Sustainable Operations: Reduce water use by 25% and implement context-based water management plans at all mills.
  4. Renewable Solutions: Advance circular solutions throughout their value chain and create innovative products that are 100% reusable, recyclable, or compostable.



So, how does International Paper begin to achieve their Vision 2030 goals? We sat down with International Paper’s Dr. Alissa Campbell Shaw, Senior Manager, Global CSR & Community Engagement to discuss their Community Engagement strategy, how it supports their Vision 2030 goals, and International Paper’s agility throughout the pandemic and beyond. But first, let’s get a better understanding of their Community Engagement Strategy.


Community Engagement

At International Paper, investing in people and communities is the foundation for their Community Engagement strategy— it’s in the name! While this is at the core of their programming, they collaborate and intentionally connect their people and planet programs together.

“We know how this interdependence resonates within our communities, with our customers, and with our suppliers. So our people and our planet strategies work together because we know that resilient communities are good for all of us and the planet.”

- Dr. Alissa Campbell Shaw, Senior Manager, Global CSR & Community Engagement, International Paper

Through this interconnected approach, International Paper is able to provide access and fill the gaps that enable people to build stronger and more resilient communities. This is accomplished through a multi-faceted community engagement approach that encompasses grants, employee giving, volunteerism, and product donations focused on their signature causes— education, hunger, health and wellness, and disaster relief.

Collectively, these efforts drive International Paper toward their Vision 2030 goal of improving the lives of 100 million people. But what do their programs look like? How did they shift in the wake of the pandemic? And what were the outcomes? Let’s take a closer look!


A Partner in Grants Management

The International Paper Foundation is just one of the many ways in which the company strives to reach its mission of becoming one of the most successful, sustainable, and responsible companies in the world. Since its inception in 1952, the International Paper Foundation has provided millions in grants to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations that align with their four signature causes. 

In order to streamline and simplify their grant-making, International Paper leverages the CyberGrants platform for its U.S.-based grants management. Through this collaboration, International Paper is able to automate their processes across hundreds of U.S. facilities and ensure efficient impact data collection from nonprofits working within their signature causes.

 “When International Paper launched our Vision 2030 goals, we included an ambitious target to improve the lives of 100 million people in our communities over the next decade. Collecting impact data from nonprofits to measure our progress toward our goal became very important to us. We leverage CyberGrants’ workflow engine to reduce our administrative burden and help us with consistent impact reporting.”

- Dr. Alissa Campbell Shaw, Senior Manager, Global CSR & Community Engagement, International Paper


Reshaping Volunteerism

Like many organizations, International Paper was faced with the challenge of adapting their community engagement programs to safely accommodate for volunteerism during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a company rooted in supporting people and communities, they knew they had an obligation to continue to give back but needed to pivot their programs to meet the needs of employees working in various capacities whether in person, remote, or hybrid – and under various safety protocols and restrictions. Therefore, while the world shifted to virtual and remote work in 2020, so did International Paper’s community engagement programs.

One of the most critical components of International Paper’s successful pivot to virtual volunteerism was that they took the time to speak with nonprofit and strategic partners to better understand new and evolving needs. They also reached out internally to better understand their employees’ capacity to participate as home life shifted in momentous ways. By understanding the needs of their partners and employees, International Paper was able to identify opportunities for social impact while prioritizing the safety of their volunteers.

“Our very first priority was employee safety and we worked closely with our strategic partners to create volunteerism opportunities that could be completed outdoors or within the comfort and safety of employees’ homes. We worked closely with our internal employee advisory team to ensure our project safety guidelines were reviewed and communicated with our project leaders.”

-Dr. Alissa Campbell Shaw, Senior Manager, Global CSR & Community Engagement, International Paper

As a result of these efforts, International Paper initiated their “volunteer kit” program. Employees interested in participating were mailed a kit that included the materials needed to complete a volunteer activity at home and allowed for both individual or family participation. For example, their “Show Your Community Pride Cleanup” project provided families with a clean-up kit containing a compostable yard waste bag and gloves for collecting debris in local parks and public areas or storm drains in their neighborhood.

Although virtual volunteerism has dozens of benefits, one of the few drawbacks is the lack of togetherness and community-building. To get around this, the International Paper team encouraged participating employees to submit photos of themselves as they virtually volunteered, which were then shared through internal communication channels and on social media. While employees may have been unable to give back “together,” International Paper learned not to discredit the power of virtual engagement! Seeing how their fellow colleagues were giving back (even virtually) was just as inspiring and empowering as witnessing it in person.

Unlike in-person volunteerism, virtual engagement can be done from anywhere and at any time! The flexibility of virtual volunteerism allowed International Paper to unlock a segment of their workforce who had historically been unable to attend in-person volunteer events. Lack of flexibility with scheduling and shift work often prevented manufacturing employees from participating in volunteerism opportunities. With the shift to virtual volunteering, International Paper was able to engage hourly workers across 127 facilities, 32 states, and 8 countries with 13,500 volunteer hours.


Measuring Success

By leveraging their people, products, and resources, International Paper was able to impact the lives of over 13.6 million people in 2021 alone and donate $23.3 million to charities and nonprofits worldwide, across all of their signature causes.

We congratulate International Paper for their resilience, innovation, and unwavering commitment to building a better future for people and the planet. We can’t wait to see how they continue to work towards their goal of improving the lives of 100 million people!

Standing up a meaningful CSR program can be daunting, but it isn’t a task you should have to tackle alone. Let CyberGrants guide your corporate philanthropy efforts to get the most out of your hard-earned dollar! Start by getting your free demo today.

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