Friday, April 29, 2011

CSR Takes on the War for Talent

I love following Elaine Cohen's blog because of her insightful posts and book, CSR For HR(reviewed here earlier) about the increasingly important relationship between CSR and HR domain issues. Recently she wrote about the importance of CSR as a recruiting tool, Recruiting for Purpose.

There has been a lot of news lately about poaching for top talent going on in Silicon Valley, where I live. There has also been great news about the improved job market for this year's 2011 college graduates. As the economy improves and more and more employees are expecting their companies to be socially responsible, one of the weapons in the "War for Talent"  that may become more significant will be the company's commitment to social responsibility, community engagement, and philanthropy.

I engaged in a bit of poaching myself here from Elaine's post, the terrific YouTube video of Charlie Rose speaking with Indira Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi Co and William Green, Chairman of Accenture.  Here are their answers to Charlie Rose's question: '"In the 'war for talent', do you think an explanation of your commitment to the societal question is an important and decisive factor whether  someone chooses to come to work for you?"

Indira Nooyi:
"It the most important deciding factor. They agree to come for one reason that they want be part of the Performance for Purpose."
William Green:
"76% of new recruits by their third question ask about  corporate responsibility."

Right now none of the poaching news stories indicated that employees went over to other companies for CSR reasons. But if HR departments can be more conscious about the potential of  baking CSR into their recruitment message and their job offers, they may win over top talent by reinforcing the cycle of companies caring about becoming more socially responsible, for a variety of good reasons.

Monday, April 25, 2011

“Meals for Moms” Campaign Helps Feed Seniors and Lift Spirits

For Immediate Release

Meals On Wheels and Gallo® Family Vineyards team up to help end hunger among senior women in honor of Mother’s Day

ALEXANDRIA, VA (April 18, 2011) - The Meals On Wheels Association of America (MOWAA) is launching its second annual Meals for Moms campaign to raise awareness of homebound senior moms facing the threat of hunger this Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 8th). Individuals can visit to send a message of hope to a lonely and homebound senior mom or send an e-card to a special woman in their life. With the help of the official sponsor, Gallo® Family Vineyards, the campaign’s goal this year is to send 50,000 messages. All funds raised will go into the Meals for Moms Fund to help Meals On Wheels programs feed homebound senior moms around Mother’s Day next year.

“Most of us are very lucky to know the love of a mother. They are the ones who raised us and often prepared our meals. Now, too many of them are alone and hungry,” said MOWAA President and CEO, Enid Borden. “They deserve better, and that is why this campaign is so very important. Our moms need us.”

MOWAA-sponsored research reveals that a staggering six million seniors are facing the threat of hunger in America, and the numbers are growing. The majority of those seniors are women. Gallo Family Vineyards is a family-owned winery and understands the importance of family, sharing the firm belief that the world is a better place when we don't just take care of our own families, but take care of each other.

“We are proud to join MOWAA in its mission to feed more senior women,” said Stephanie Gallo, Vice President of Marketing at E&J Gallo Winery. “It’s important to find ways to give back. Working with Meals On Wheels is just one of the ways we’re trying to make our community better.”

At, visitors can choose from a variety of flowers – including roses, tulips, and lilies – for the virtual bouquet they select to send with a message. Here are just a few examples of the thousands of messages sent to homebound moms across the country last year:

“Happy Mother's Day. Although we cannot meet, I am here caring for you in spirit.”

“I hope you have a wonderful Mother's Day! We all know its not easy raising a child and all mothers should get some credit for doing such an important job! So, happy Mother’s Day!”

“Mothers are special! I wouldn't be today the person I am if it wasn't for my great Mother (and Grandma too)! Happy Mother's Day. Hugs & kisses to all.”
About Meals On Wheels Association of America
The Meals On Wheels Association of America (MOWAA) is the oldest and largest national organization in the United States representing those programs that provide meals to people in need. MOWAA’s mission is to end senior hunger by 2020. To obtain more information about MOWAA or to locate a local Meals On Wheels program, visit the MOWAA website at

About Gallo Family Vineyards
Gallo Family Vineyards has been family owned and operated for over 75 years, and the Gallo Family stands behind the quality of every bottle with our Best Taste Promise. Our family of wines (suggested retail price of $4.99 for 750-ml bottles, $8.99 for 1.5-liter bottles, $5.99 for 187-mL four-pack) includes fourteen fruit forward, approachable styles at an affordable price: Chardonnay, Moscato, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, White Zinfandel, White Merlot, Blush Noir, Sweet Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Hearty Burgundy, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Café Chardonnay and Café Zinfandel. For more information visit or call 1-877-425-5696

We are Meals On Wheels no senior goes hungry®

Friday, April 22, 2011

Is Starbucks Free Coffee on Earth Day Really Cause Marketing?

It’s Earth Day today and how could anyone on the internet miss it? Just check out Google’s cute green logo for the day, or on Twitter and Facebook the uncountable number of #earthday hashtags. One of the largest group of tweets,( my current count for just the last hour was 200), were about Starbucks giving free cups of coffee or tea to anyone who brings their own reusable mug.

As I dashed off to meet a friend, I grabbed two coffee mugs, one for her and one for me to take to the nearest Starbucks and I stopped to think about the consequences and the benefits and the balance between the two, that his type of promotional/ cause marketing may bring about and whether this actually is cause marketing. Several cause marketing pro's, like Joe Waters that writes about a partnership and like wikipedia which defines it as :

Cause marketing or cause-related marketing refers to a type of marketing involving the cooperative efforts of a "for profit" business and a non-profit organization for mutual benefit.

Basic definition of cause marketing is defined by Business

"Joint funding and promotional strategy in which a firm's sales are linked (and a percentage of the sales revenue is donated) to a charity or other public cause. However, unlike philanthropy, money spent in cause related marketing is considered an expense and is expected to show a return."
HMM! No joint funding, no cooperative efforts between Starbucks and a non-profit, no partnership. So can it be called cause marketing? Well certainly there is marketing and there is a related cause. So now let's look at the benefits to both.

Benefits to the cause:Raising Awareness of Earth Day and about the environment.
Eliminates waste by diminishing the use of paper cups
Inspires other businesses to follow its example by celebrating Earth Day, thus creating a viral effect impact.
Customers feel good about feeling they are part of the cause.
Starbucks lends credibility to the cause because they are a big corporate name.

Benefits to the business: (or return, as stated above)
Creates goodwill for Starbucks for the future
Brings in more sales that day for other products.
Brings in new customers for the future.
Creates awareness about other Starbucks environmental causes

This definitely isn't philanthropy either yet there is a huge expense to Starbucks and with that comes the following downsides:
It costs  a lot to give away the extra drinks.

It brings freeloaders that don’t care about the cause
The environmental impact of the extra water and energy used to make the free drinks might offset the environmental benefits.

Most likely Starbucks has assessed the cost benefit of this cause marketing campaign both for their business and for their cause. But in the end they have brought themselves a lot of great publicity by essentially throwing a big celebration in honor of  a cause that they really do care about.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Grameen Danone and the Rise of the Social Business Enterprise

Last week you'll recall I linked to Stephanie Strom's New York Times article profiling a new PepsiCo venture that sponsors the local cultivation of corn in a small Mexican community, decreasing the environmental impact of crop transportation, and creating an economic boon for the impoverished nearby community. Strom's piece included a fleeting reference to an earlier enterprise spearheaded by French food conglomerate Groupe Danone. That aside caught my interest, and I decided to dig up some further details on the Danone program, an innovative prototype that, as it turns out, warranted the further attention.

As you probably know, Groupe Danone is a heavyweight multinational food-products corporation, specializing in dairy, baby food, bottled water, and a variety of other products, comprising a multitude of brands you'll recognize - Volvic, Evian, Activia and others. Here in the United States, many of the Groupe's products retail under a more familiar name: Dannon.

In late-2005, the corporate heads of Danone sat down with Professor Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank, a Bangladeshi community development organization specializing in microfinance. Yunus, who shortly went on to win the 2006 Nobel Prize in Economics, had pioneered a group-based credit model designed to give small, collateral-free loans to the poor, stimulating the growth of new businesses in the Third World. As a result of that meeting, Danone joined Yunus and his "Bank of the Poor" in launching Grameen Danone, an innovative "social business enterprise" which functions as a non-loss, non-dividend community-based business designed to invest in a cause-related product, then reinvest all profits back into further growth of the core organization.

In this case, Grameen Danone's cause was child nutrition in Bangladesh, and the product was a vitamin-fortified full cream yogurt, dubbed Shakti Doi, tailored to provide kids with much-needed nutrients. The tale of the yogurt's development is a fascinating one, as too is the story of Grameen Danone's trial-and-error financial evolution.

The novel facet, though, is this: investors collect no dividends from their profits; rather those funds are reinvested to promote the growth of the core business. In addition to addressing child nutrition, the Grameen Danone brand relies on locally-developed ingredients, resulting in increased job opportunities, business development for its various subsidiaries, and environmental protection.

The Grameen Danone model is one that's been copied since its inception, deservedly so. It provides a vivid example of the potential reach and innovation possible for corporations willing to partner with a local cause and champion a profit-neutral business with the potential to open, as well as elevate, new markets.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pepsi Hits the Farm

Could it be that global philanthropy is poised to become the new vogue? You may have seen this recent article from the New York Times which examines a pioneering venture between PepsiCo and several agricultural cooperatives in the Jalisco Mountains of San Gabriel, Mexico. There Pepsi has sponsored several hundred farmers in growing corn for use in soda production at nearby facilities.

The new partnership cuts out all middlemen, giving the farmers a purchase guarantee, enabling them to raise the size and price of their crop. There's also a multi-pronged structure of social, environmental and business benefits.

Reports Stephanie Strom:

PepsiCo’s work with the corn farmers reflects a relatively new approach by corporations trying to maintain a business edge while helping out small communities and farmers. Begun as a pilot project by the foundation affiliated with the company’s Sabritas snack foods division, it is expanding to about 850 farmers to develop a local source of sunflower oil, which the company needs to improve the nutritional quality of its products.

The corn project saved PepsiCo transportation costs because the farms were close to two of its factories, and the use of local farms assured it access to types of corn best suited to its products and processes. “That gives us great leverage because corn prices don’t fluctuate so much, but transportation costs do,” said Pedro Padierna, president of PepsiCo’s operations in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

The social benefits of the corn program are obvious in higher incomes that have improved nutritional and educational standards among the participating farmers, not to mention its impact on illegal immigration and possibly even the reduction of marijuana production.

For the first time, many of the participating farmers have taken in enough revenue to open bank accounts and pay taxes on their income, elevating the rural community's financial aptitude, as well as stimulating the local economy.

At its core, though, the project is about boosting revenue for Pepsi. In that respect, it's a departure from most corporate philanthropy, in which the parent company heaps a healthy donation on some organization, rakes in the good PR, but then moves on.

“We are seeing an increased focus by companies looking to see how they can use their core capabilities for public good rather than simply writing a big check,” said Gaurav Gupta, regional director for Asia at Dalberg Global Development Advisors, a consulting firm focused on international development. “They’re starting to realize that the marginal cost of doing a little extra good produces such a great impact — and not only in terms of good will, but also because it’s good for business.”

Based on the cost-cutting success of the venture, Pepsi has announced it will widen its margins, investing $52 million over the next seven years to sponsor local production of sunflowers for use in generating sunflower oil to replace palm oil in some of its drinks, a change that will carry nutritional benefits.

The Jalisco partnership illustrates how corporations can tweak practices to boost social benefit, as well as their bottom line. We've seen this before, but not from a giant like Pepsi. If this pilot program and the ones to follow continue to blossom, PepsiCo might soon be ready to add scale and scope to the equation.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

How Does Your Company State It's Philanthropic Goals and Mission?

We talk a lot about mission in many of our posts. For example, companies like the House of Marley that describes theirs simply as "putting Bob's beliefs into action",  or the Feed Project that has a whole page dedicated to their stated mission.

A lot of companies miss this essential step of not having a carefully formalized and stated mission statement about their charitable giving. Too bad for them and for the causes they serve, as having a clear sense of what your business wants to achieve in its charitable giving is a tremendous advantage. 

I have been recently helping a local non-profit to build partnerships with local businesses. So I have been carefully scrutinizing a variety of business's website for their info on community giving. My impressions of these are that they go from being fairly simply stated goals on up through a well stated mission. 

Anything written down is a good start, but the clearer the mission and the more employees that are engaged in the drafting, the more impact your philanthropy can have.

Here are some of the stated goals and missions I have come across: 
 Fenwick and West:"We choose to partner with and contribute to organizations with which we can assist in achieving their goals. We believe this integrated approach offers the greatest value to the recipient organizations."

Foxhunt:"has formed collaborative relationships with targeted nonprofits to support youth educational, athletic,and performing arts programs.

Tech CU:"is proud to be a strong supporter of community initiatives that impact the neighborhoods where our members live and work."

CPP: "Consistent with its corporate vision, CPP’s philanthropic activities today focus on contributing to programs that support people, promote educational opportunities, and help under served communities."
Many of these do specify more clearly on their sites what kinds of projects they fund, how they involve their employees and how non-profits can apply for funding. 

There is a great advantage for every business that gives back to the community to sit down with employees and develop a mission for their philanthropy because of the following advantages:
  • Gives charities a clear cut procedure to follow when submitting their requests
  • Creates a review system  to process the charitable applications
  • Makes charitable decisions more thoughtful and carefully chosen
  • Engages the employees in the charitable giving process
  • Aligns the philanthropy with the mission of your business
  • Helps assess whether you have achieved your goals and purpose

How does you company state its philanthropic goals and mission? Let me know.


Monday, April 4, 2011

How Go Daddy's Founder May Have Killed the Goodwill Towards His Charity

We regret in many ways to posting last weeks story about GoDaddy's philanthropy and the acclaim that it has received recently for it. Since then  Bob has posted a video on his personal website,  of his shooting an elephant in Africa. ( I am linking to his site, not the video itself).  It is a graphic portrayal of this shooting in a village in Africa where an elephant has destroyed the villagers' livelihood and food supply, their crops of sorghum and other plants. To add to the upsetting scene of the killing is the sickening scene of the villagers ravaging the animal for meat.

The video and the act itself has brought GoDaddy an enormous amount of criticism and bad publicity. Bob Parsons justifies his act as helping the starving African villagers. Judging from the video there seems to be no doubt they are impoverished and hungry.

I can't begin to understand  the complexity of the problem and what the solution might be. But certainly Bob Parsons has the resources to do have done some intense research, bring in a variety of environmental and economic experts, and at least try some innovative solutions here.  Even had this been the correct solution, justifying the life of one elephant over the lives of many people, the braggadocio of displaying it on his website is - well- disgusting.

Solving problems by throwing money at them are rarely good enough. Saving societal problems by hunting and killing has some deep consequences. GoDaddy and its founder has done some inspirational philanthropy,  but one of the consequences of this elephant killing is that good will towards GoDaddy for its worthwhile charitable efforts may have been killed too.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fooling Around With CSR

Whole Foods has always been on the cutting edge of creative ways to give back to the community and help promote sustainability and social responsibility. Today's posts on their website feature some great new ideas such as Insects Raised With Compassion.

I searched back through other companies that we have featured here to see whether they too have advanced their philanthropy and CSR on this day. My links are to my former posts about them.

Here are some the best:
Campbell's Soup now has: Help Grow Your Own Soup Can program. Campbell's has come up with a truly environment solution to waste from aluminum cans. For one dollar Campbell's will send you a packet of ground up aluminum that you can plant and grow your cans to use for your home grown vegetables.

Go Daddy changes name to Go Mommy as a  marketing strategy to attract more women customers and in order to change their corporate giving program to Go Mommy Cares, knowing that women give more to charity than men.

Panera's pay as you go restaurants,The St Louis Bread Company, has come up with the ultimate charity program: Pay the Customer What They Want, for the privilege of eating at their restaurants.

New York based Bake Me A Wish, has expanded their offerings include women jumping out of their cakes. For every cake bought they will still donate a portions of the sale plus the woman's tips to designated causes.

Socks for Happy People has created a charitable foundation called, Socking It To Happy People, for all those people who just wish they could wipe off that smile off of all those disgustingly happy people. Socks for Happy People will send every person who posts a story to their website of how they managed to make someone miserable, a pair of their socks made in Mongolia from camel's hair .

Give Something Back is truly living up to their name and has a created a charitable return policy for their office products. For every product returned  they will refund the full amount plus a give a donation to your favorite charity.

I am glad that April 1st only comes once a year, so these businesses can go back to doing their best in philanthropy and CSR the rest of the year. :)