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More Business, Less Charity

There's a new trend emerging among a small number of NGOs (non-governmental organizations, used in reference to global nonprofits). Here's what it looks like in comparison to the traditional nonprofit approach:

  • Traditional: NGO raises charitable dollars. Hires expert staff to send abroad. Expert staff sets up offices and the necessary facilities (clinic, school, etc.). Expert staff proceeds to provide services. NGO counts and reports on the number of people it helps abroad. NGO continues raising money to fund the staff it has established in its

  • ...

Collaborating for Sustainable Change: New Approaches to Accelerate Innovation

While public opinion surrounding the virtues (or lack thereof according to the Wall Street Journal) of corporate social responsibility are wide and varied, the power of business in society is indisputable. Its a power that has at times carried a bad reputation - especially lately, when we've seen it used shamelessly to rake bags of cash into the arms of a few executives.

Some companies and their...

Supersizing Responsibility, Not Portions

Hard to believe that the end of another summer is upon us.  Earlier this month I was on Cape Cod, enjoying a week of vacation, which included eating a lot of fresh seafood.   The menu included cod (of course), clams, flounder, haddock, lobster and scallops.  All of it was delicious, but with every bite there was a little remorse.  Ever since I first read the United Nations Environment Program’s (UNEP’s) prediction...

Cause Sponsorship: The New Model

The way corporations sponsor causes is changing dramatically. Sponsors are moving from investing in “properties” that deliver quantifiable ROI in terms of impressions, interactions, and sales to developing proprietary social programs that deliver qualitative ROI such as employee and customer trust and engagement.

Here’s the old paradigm: your corporation identifies a cause property (i.e. an event such as a Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure or the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s CIBC Run for the...

How Do You Measure Sustainability?

How do you measure sustainability ? I have been fortunate to gain a little preview of the input supporting the soon-to-be-released report offering answers to this very question. The report has been compiled by  Ethical Corporation and is called "Social and economic impact: measurement, evaluation and reporting: A must-have guide for companies operating in emerging markets and vulnerable communities". This  report promises to offer answers to...

The strong voice of the CSR community

It is now exactly 7 days ago that a storm in the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) world broke out over an article by Aneel Karnani published in the Wall Street Journal titled: ”The case against Corporate Social Responsibility”.

In the article he argued that the idea of companies having a duty to address social ills is not just flawed but that it also makes it more likely that we’ll ignore the real solutions to these problems.

All week last week the reactions to...

Obama, Krishna Das, Paradise and Me

It has been a heck of a week up here in Paradise. For my usual August respite, Barack, Michelle, the kids and me all vacationed together on Martha’s Vineyard. Okay not exactly together, but only a few miles away on this small beautiful island, their hearts beat with mine. It was a sublime dream of unity.

I did see the camera crews at Sweet E’s Cupcake Shop waiting breathlessly for a glimpse of the Big O. But it was not to be, the First Fam was ordering gulf shrimp one town away. Still this week it was comforting to know that half the secret service, some of the nation’s...

P&G to Use Sugarcane-Based Plastic Packaging for Beauty Brands

Earlier this month, Proctor & Gamble announced plans to use renewable, sustainable, sugarcane-based plastic for packaging on its Pantene Pro-V, Covergirl and Max Factor brands.

I’m happy to see that P&G did its research and chose not to use corn-based plastic. Corn-based plastic has been all the rage lately and can be found in everything from “compostable” silverware to paper...

Why There Is a Case for Corporate Social Responsibility, Despite WSJ's Obituary

The cover essay in The Wall Street Journal's special Executive Advisor report yesterday attacks advocates of corporate social responsibility, calling the belief that "businesses have a responsibility to act in the public interest and will profit from doing so" ineffective and flawed.

Aneel Karnani, an associate professor of strategy with University of Michigan's Stephen M. Ross School of Business—ironically the venue for the 2011 Net Impact...

Trust and Consequences

Why do some companies win public trust and others lose it? That’s a question more people are asking themselves, as global faith in business remains unfortunately fragile. Turns out the trust deficit, a trend on the rise for ten years now, is more than a mere wrinkle on the face of capitalism. It’s a pressing concern for every shareholder.

When companies lose trust, they often lose capital. Case in point: Gulf disaster stocks BP, Halliburton, Transocean and Anadarko each sank between 25...

Can small changes lead to big ones?

How can people be convinced to significantly green their lives? To make the big changes needed to conserve natural resources and decrease energy use?

Robert B. Cialdini may have something to suggest. Cialdini' is the author of Influence and I’ve been reading his follow-up book Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive. Each of the 50 ways is given its own chapter in the easy to read...

"The Economic Collapse, Fundamentally Is a Failure of Leadership"

Ann M. Charles wants senior management to realize that the economic collapse has changed the culture of leadership forever. Founder of BRANDfog and producer of the upcoming Great Leaders Conference, she firmly believes that for companies to be successful, they must embrace social media while recognizing that corporate responsibility is no longer a vague, idealistic concept.

Having spent almost 20 years in marketing and witnessed firsthand a pervading sense of short-termism across corporate America, Charles started BRANDfog in 2009 to address this gap and offers


What CSR And Nonprofit Leaders Are Reading - Part II

What CSR and Nonprofit Leaders Are Reading - Part I

Rethinking Debt: Deadbeat Creditors

It’s all in the way you think about it. Debtors or victims? Creditors or usurers?

The ancient dance of debt and credit has changed partners and its moral compass through 4000 years of recorded history. Humanity has had an ambivalent relationship to debt since civilization began. The current battle between borrowers and lenders reveals the age-old struggle shows no sign of abating.

The New York Times published a remarkably biased report entitled, “...

CSR: Right On Target

Today's New York Times article, "Target's First Store in Manhattan Took a Decade of Wooing" describes how Target laid the groundwork to open a major new retail outlet in Harlem. According to the article, Target invested a decade in getting to know the community, its leaders and its residents, and its needs and interests. Not only has Target been financially generous in strengthening schools, cultural institutions, and local parks, but the company is also selling locally produced and designed merchandise...

Mandating CSR: Indian Government Demands Full Disclosure From Companies

As the US markets continue to debate whether we are still in a recession, on the road to recovery, or headed for a double recession, the Indian government is busy imposing regulations to boost corporate philanthropy and social responsibility. In an economy that continues to post steady growth despite upheavals across Europe and the U.S., India Inc. is increasingly facing scrutiny for their role—or their notable absence—in the social and environmental growth of the country.

In early March, corporations were surprised with an announcement from the government's Corporate Affairs...

Blogging on CSR and Nonprofit Boards: My Favorite 17 Posts

When Fast Company invited me to be an Expert blogger on Ethonomics and Leadership two years ago, I had no idea what a great adventure this would be. In over 165 posts, including coverage of two Clinton Global Initiative annual meetings, I've aimed to present you with a variety of CSR programs, the elements that make these programs beneficial for companies and communities, and people from...

Trouble Brewing For Green Mountain Coffee: Do 3 Billion Plastic Cups Negate 30 Years of Sustainability?

Does a history of progressive social and environmental responsibility compensate for recent environmental abuse?

Green Mountain Coffee is staring into the face of this question now with criticism of its environmentally noxious single-use coffee pods that work with its Keurig brewing system.  Last year, more than 80% of Green Mountain’s $803 million in sales came from the nonrecyclable,...

PwC's CSR Leader: "I had to accept that some people weren't going to come to the table or invest in this"

In 2007, Shannon Schuyler, an executive at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) wrote a white paper for the company's leadership emphasizing that PwC needed someone to oversee their CR efforts and give them direction. Schuyler also candidly pointed out that while the accounting giant had done some impressive things for...

Do Republicans Hate Small Business?

Often politics and business mix in a big way. Small Business America is no exception. Access to credit for small business, sole proprietors and entrepreneurs in the United States is in dire straits according to every walking & talking politician out there from the Big O to the Fed Chief to elected officials from both political parties. Yet nowhere is any real and effective help forthcoming.

The recent Small Business Jobs and Credit Act was shot down with filibuster...

Is This A Viable Alternative To Crowdsourced Social Good Campaigns?

I’m not the first to make the case that crowdsourced social good contests should retreat quickly into the night.

  • They’re inefficient at creating change;
  • Their current popularity has diminished the value they bring to companies and brands;
  • Consumers are fed up with them (how many vote-for-me solicitations do you get a week that make you feel more like a brand pusher than a change agent?); and
  • For the money and hoopla they involve, they should accomplish more than marketing the company and channeling money to (often unvetted and under-qualified)
  • ...

The Giving Pledge: A New Social Conscience

Something remarkable happened in the world of the richest men on earth. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, who dedicated most of their lives to accumulating as much wealth as possible, decided to give nearly all of it away - in their lifetimes. Why? To help those who cannot help themselves. And even more than that, they have asked their peers to do the same (the Giving Pledge) – give it all away.  If you don’t see this as unusual, think again. This act represents one...

When Is a Board a Board? When Is It Not a Board?

What we commonly refer to as a nonprofit "board" is the governing board of a nonprofit corporation. This board is charged by law with the oversight of the nonprofit organization. Board members have a fiduciary duty and risk legal liability if they fail in their duties of care, loyalty, and obedience. The legal organization and responsibility is what makes a "board" a "board." Only the governing board has decision-making authority related to organizational strategy, budget, and the hiring of the CEO.

A board is not a board when the nonprofit organization...

Walmart and Seventh Generation Join Forces to Bring Sustainable Products to the Masses

Indeed, sustainable business makes for strange bedfellows. Just this week, Seventh Generation announced it will soon offer its environmentally-friendly products in more than 1500 Walmart stores nationwide and on And according to...


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