CSR Food for Thought: From Boring to Cool

The CSR Food for Thought series is a weekly roundup of relevant news from around the Web, presented to you in one bite-sized blog post. Follow us on Twitter for CSR news and trends throughout the week: @VM_Solutions.

Messaging Sustainability: From Boring to Cool

Today’s world of technology and innovation is exciting – we’re rushing through life with big strides, constantly looking for that next big thing. Sustainability, say Maxine Bédat and Soraya Darabi, co-founders of fashion and lifestyle start-up Zady, is the opposite of all that. At least that’s how we communicate it currently. In this article they share their plan to change all that.

Case Study: Volunteering Index

There’s hard evidence, says this post on Co-operative News, that staff volunteer programs create real business benefits – in the forms of greater retention rates (and lower recruitment costs), higher productivity and increased community awareness about the company’s work, among others. Several businesses provide their tips for running the most successful volunteer projects.

Haiti Four Years Later: SAP Technology, Funds and Volunteers Create Jobs

Learn about the investment SAP has made to bring entrepreneurs in Haiti funding, training, and business advice to support long-term regrowth. Disaster relief is not just about an immediate response –  the real measure of support is whether or not it improves people’s lives over time.

Shaking Up the Corporate Structure to Go Beyond the Profit Motive

As benefit corporations – which are required to consider their impact not just on shareholders, but on the environment, workers, and the community – become more accepted in the business world, when will we see the first public corporation convert to benefit corporation status? What hurdles must be overcome, and how would this resonate among the rest of the corporate world? This Fast Co.Exist article presents some thoughts, given what has already been achieved.

Continue reading

7 CSR and Employee Engagement Conferences You Must Attend This Year

7 CSR and Employee Engagement Conferences You Must Attend This Year

Schmoozing at the 2013 VolunteerMatch Client Summit

If you go to a lot of corporate social responsibility and cause marketing conferences each year, the beginning of the year only means one thing: the budget is set and it’s time to rock!

With many of the most interesting and innovative events of the conference calendar bunched up in Q1 and Q2, there’s not a lot of time to plan for maximum impact.

 

So without further ado, here’s our list of the events that we think are worth attending in terms of investment, impact, networking and fun:

2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit, Sept. 18-19, Detroit

There’s no event we get more value out of than our own Client Summit. Each year more than a 100 representatives of our corporate partners meet to talk trends and best practices, hear from experts in the field, and talk about the real world challenges of managing large scale volunteer initiatives at many of the world’s most engaged workforces. It’s invitation only, and usually reserved for companies that use VolunteerMatch’s world class engagement platform. This year we are thrilled to be bringing the event to Detroit, where General Motors is hosting everything at its world headquarters.

Cause Marketing Forum Annual Conference, May 28-29, Chicago

One of our favorites of the year is the Cause Marketing Forum, an intimate two days of interesting conversations at the nexus of cause and brand marketing. World class companies come to share their stories, and nonprofits that are committed to cause marketing are all looking for innovative ways to engage. You can also catch the presentation of the annual Halo Awards, cause marketing’s highest honor. The awards go to both corporations and their nonprofit partners.

The BSR Conference ’14, November 4-7, New York City

A four-day conference from Business for Social Responsibility, the SF-based nonprofit sustainability consultant. The event, which shifts from coast to coast each year, is a must for businesses that are looking to create social responsibility and sustainability plans that will last. The conference is a wonderful mix of content around the most pressing questions and top trends that will drive conversations in the future of social responsibility. Yes, that’s our very own Inga Langford at the mic on this page recapping last year’s event!

ACCP Annual Conference on Corporate Contributions, March 2-5, Las Vegas

Don’t go to the Association of Corporate Contributions Professionals’ annual event because it’s in Vegas – go because it’s the premier conference in the U.S. for professionals in corporate citizenship, corporate social responsibility, community relations and volunteerism. While flashier events focus on the sizzle of brand marketing and cause marketing for social good, ACCP’s event is all about the steak of corporate giving – i.e., billions of dollars of annual philanthropy, volunteering and community investments.

13th Annual Best Practices Summit on Employee Engagement in Corporate Citizenship, April, New York City

Charities@Work hosts one of the best gatherings dedicated to ideas and trends in employee engagement for social good. We like this conference because it recognizes the enormous and often overlooked impact employee-led philanthropy and volunteering is having in our communities.

SB ’14 San Diego, June 2-5, San Diego

The innovative minds at Sustainable Brands, the organization, developed Sustainable Brands, the event, to bring together the most innovative thinkers in brand development and brand marketing to help change the world. Each year SB hosts this 3-day event on an island in San Diego, which sounds exotic, except that it’s really purpose-built for making sure the conversations are sustained and relationships can be developed over a short period of time. I’ve always loved the connections, stories, and opportunities that come out of this conference.

2014 Conference on Volunteering and Service, June 16-18, Atlanta

Points of Light Institute’s Conference on Volunteering and Service is best known as a place for nonprofits to learn more about volunteer engagement, but it also has a wonderful track for business professionals. Each year we are thrilled to see dozens of our corporate partners at NCVS, and it’s great to see that corporate social responsibility is becoming a larger part of the discussion at the largest event about volunteering on the national landscape.

What do you think are the best events in CSR in 2014? Share them here.

Continue reading

CSR Food for Thought: Trends, Predictions and More for 2014

The CSR Food for Thought series is a weekly roundup of relevant news from around the Web, presented to you in one bite-sized blog post. Follow us on Twitter for CSR news and trends throughout the week: @VM_Solutions.

Looking Ahead – 5 CSR Trends on the Radar for 2014

Liz Gorman and Lesley Lammers of Cone Communications highlight five CSR trends that they think are likely to pop up on corporate radar screens and gain more traction in 2014. From GMOs to employee engagement to social entrepreneurship, all the favorites make an appearance.

One Thing That Really Matters for 2014: Closing the CSR Gap

Craig Bida (also of Cone!) dispensed with the list altogether to focus on the one thing he feels is most important in 2014. Hint: It has to do with what consumers think your company should be doing for the world, and what your company actually is doing…

A Social Responsibility Action Plan for 2014

It’s important to have an actual strategy when it comes to your CSR initiatives – this will ensure that your company not only sees the fuzzy, do-good benefits of your program, but the business benefits, as well. Peter Economy, a well-known author and business writer, writes on Inc.com about how to put the power of corporate social responsibility to work for you in 2014.

Jump Start Sustainable Employee Engagement in 2014 Using Social Media

Are your employees aware of the nature and responsibilities around the use of social media for sustainability communications? What transformation needs to occur in 2014 to engage your employees around sustainability programs and CSR? Julie Urlaub of Taiga Company rounds up some useful articles that discuss the role social media engagement can play in 2014 to increase employee engagement within your company’s sustainability plan.

Continue reading

CSR Food for Thought: The New Social Bottom Line for Employee Engagement

The CSR Food for Thought series is a weekly roundup of relevant news from around the Web, presented to you in one bite-sized blog post. Follow us on Twitter for CSR news and trends throughout the week: @VM_Solutions.

Employee Engagement And The Social Bottom Line: Sands Shifting Again?

In this Forbes article Tom Watson reflects on a recent panel in which both the speakers and the audience members focused on the strategy behind how social media can increase employee engagement in CSR initiatives – but no one seemed interested in the tactics, or the “how.” This marks, Tom says, a shift in understanding and an acceptance of a new reality.

10 Tips for Creating Successful NGO-Brand Partnerships

Many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are well-positioned to help leading brands develop innovative solutions that deliver a competitive edge. Of course, as with any business partnership or personal relationship, take time to assess your options before getting involved. This post on Sustainable Brands includes 10 tips to help your brand create effective NGO partnerships to advance sustainability, accelerate innovation and increase overall impact.

Environmentally-friendly business is profitable business

So claims this article in the Guardian. Many associate sustainability with expense, but companies that have embraced it are financially outperforming. The proactive approaches of a few leading-edge companies, and the benefits produced for their bottom lines, are encouraging. But we are far from “there yet.”

Moving CSR from philanthropy to alignment with commercial objectives

According to this Marketing Week article, there is an increasing disconnect between the amount of brands invest in their CSR programs and the messaging that is actually getting across to consumers. This must be reversed, since according to other data consumers respond in a disproportionately favorable way to learning about the CSR activity of brands.

Continue reading

CSR Food for Thought: Is “Sustainability” Just a Buzzword?

The CSR Food for Thought series is a weekly roundup of relevant news from around the Web, presented to you in one bite-sized blog post. Follow us on Twitter for CSR news and trends throughout the week: @VM_Solutions.

Why “sustainability” should be more than a meaningless buzzword

It seems like everyone these days has their own definition for “sustainability” (if one even bothers to ask). But the hyper-adoption of this word for a large variety of purposes has turned it into a blurry term  that fits into whatever suitcase you want it to, including a catchall for everything “socially good,” whatever that means. It’s time to remember what the real meaning of sustainability is based in, and how it can help us all run our companies  - and the world – better.

Corporate Philanthropy Programs are Diverse and Creative: Get Ideas Here

This Forbes.com article is full of great examples of companies that are creatively aligning corporate philanthropy efforts with their company’s work and brand. From pet food to body lotion to construction, it’s possible to step outside the box and have a great impact no matter what industry you’re in.

Senior Staff ‘Most Crucial’ Sustainability Driver

Senior leadership is the most critical driver of sustainability within a business, according to research by the Economist Intelligence Unit on behalf of Coca-Cola Enterprises. Some 44 percent of firms say engagement with business leaders will be the most important factor in successfully implementing a sustainability strategy over the next three years, the study found.

Keeping Pro Bono Projects on Track

Eileen Yang from the Taproot Foundation shares her expertise on the Net Impact blog. In this interview, she gives us her take on what makes a successful pro bono project and why pro bono is so valuable for participants. You can see Eileen speak in person at the 2013 Net Impact Conference next week.

Continue reading

CSR Food for Thought: The Potential of Trash

The CSR Food for Thought series is a weekly roundup of relevant news from around the Web, presented to you in one bite-sized blog post. Follow us on Twitter for CSR news and trends throughout the week: @VM_Solutions.

Nike’s New Shanghai Store is Made From 100 Percent Trash

It’s true, folks, and Nike’s new trash building is not the only one. Triple Pundit describes what goes into building with trash (hint: recycled CDs and DVDs are involve), what it could mean if this new trend spreads across the world, and the company determined to make it a reality. How could buildings made from trash impact your company’s sustainability efforts?

Practicing Sustainability in the Real World

What can a “Sustainability Communications” intern at a large international corporation learn in one summer? More importantly, what kind of impact can she realistically have in just a few months? Kate Even, a student at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, shares her experience this past summer at AMCOL International Corp. You’d be surprised at everything she learned – and the mark she left on the company’s sustainability practices.

Allstate Employees, Putting Good Hands to Work

For more than 80 years, Allstate has been putting good hands to work to improve local communities. The company’s 2nd annual Week of Service brought thousands of people together to volunteer, reinforcing Allstate’s commitment to build a better future. Read about how Allstate mobilized thousands of employees, agency owners, family and friends to give back.

B Corp “Best for the World” List – Worker Impact

The annual B Corp Best for the World List recognizes those companies creating the most positive overall social and environmental impact. The companies on the “Worker Impact” list are honored for their positive impact on their workforce. Browse this year’s honorees of all shapes and sizes.

Continue reading