Stanford Social Innovation Review is likely my top choice for great reading about social change efforts by the non-profit, for profit, and social venture sectors. A recent article by Dr John Brothers, a professor and non-profit consultant: How the Non-Profit Sector Is Misusing Its Greatest Asset,proposes that non-profits need to engage each other and their communities in the sharing of real stories about the real people that they have affected. They, and the non-profit community that includes foundations, need to convey the more tangible data related to their impact on the causes they serve.
My view is that this idea can extend to businesses and social ventures also, as they may have even better communications vehicles through which to spread the word about the causes that they support. Think of businesses that support charities and causes that do this well like Better World Books which we have written about before, that has live-time updates of how many books have been saved from landfills and how much has been donated towards literacy programs; or, Whole Foods that has fliers and posters with stories of real people who have been impacted by the micro-loans that Whole Foods Foundation has provided them with. Another example of great corporate CSR storytelling is Deloitte's documentary videos. Potential communication vehicles for businesses are: their own websites and social networking sites, newsletters, you tube videos, in-store promotional materials. And these vehicles are available to both large corporations and small businesses alike.
Yes, donations of money, time and services are valuable and necessary, but spreading the word by conveying these stories about needs and then communicating the data about their impact of the CSR programs, create a multiplier effect that can be far reaching. In many ways these may be the greatest assets businesses can use to create social change and promote social benefit.