Monday, March 1, 2010

Making Business Philanthropy More Effective

It is hard to believe that a little over a year ago when a friend of mine sent me a link to the website of small restaurant operation in San Francisco, Mission Street Foods. Mission Street Foods began as a food truck and expanded into an operating restaurant twice a week, with all of the proceeds donated towards a designated charity. This happenstance inspired me to create Business That Cares and write my first blog post.

In addition, this past year, I finished the program and received my certificate in Positive Business and Society Change through Case Western University’s Weatherhead School of Management. Part of the program requirements were to submit three stories to the Center for BAWB, Business Agent of World Benefit, for their World Inquiry project, which I also posted on the blog: Replyforall, Better World Books, and GoodCapital. The World Inquiry into B·A·W·B, hosts a global dialogue through the highlighting and sharing of stories of successful business innovations that are making a positive impact on society and the environment on their Innovation Bank site.

As I have learned about hundreds of stories about business philanthropy and have passed on many of them through my blogging and twitter, I have seen the trend for businesses that care; businesses that are agents of positive change for the world, grow quite rapidly. As an example, Mission Street Food is planning to grow to a full time restaurant and is seeking socially minded investors to help them fulfill this vision. In spite of the fact that the economy has negatively impacted business philanthropy, newly socially minded models of business have emerged that help support a variety of important causes . Our goal has been to write stories about these new models for business, such as a B-Corp like Better World Books, a business founded with the purpose of donating a percentage to charity like glassybaby, collaborative businesses like Hotels That Help that involve their customers in donating to causes, or businesses like Blackbaud that were founded with emphasis of strong volunteer programs.

And looking ahead, it seems clear that looking at business philanthropy from an Organizational Behavior and Organizational Development perspective, can help businesses understand how it relates to the overall functioning of the business. Furthermore, a philanthropy program especially one that has an employee volunteer component will benefit from involving HR and OD departments as they can help with understanding and using the correct organizational management principles and tools that will improve the positive impact of the program.

These are some of the organizational topics as applied to business philanthropy that I plan to address in this blog this coming year: how to create the vision, designing innovative and effective programs, leadership development, applying best practices and processes from other business philanthropy examples,employee engagement and volunteering, tying corporate philanthropy with company strategy and direction, developing strategy for the business philanthropy program, group dynamics of team building, building collaboration and cooperation within the context of volunteering, assessing and measuring impact of company philanthropy on the community and on the business.

Business philanthropy seems to be considered as a adjunct activity for many businesses, as in "wouldn't it be nice if we could do something for....". This is to be commended. And now, it's time to start making it really effective.


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Thank you for all the great posts from last year! I always get great information from your blog. God bless you this 2010.

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Lalia Helmer said...

Thank you for your great comment. Please contact me if you are looking for more information about business philanthropy. There is so many wonderful things that are happening in his area, and it is so interesting to learn about them.