Sarah Ford | January 16, 2014

The Evolution of Corporate Sustainability

Source: Charities@Work

By Kal Stein, CEO of Earthshare

There is a reason why businesses and nonprofits routinely partner on delivering solutions and targeting crises. While the former can offer resources and funding, the latter can provide the manpower, the passion, and often the granular knowledge needed to address social and environmental issues that are often complex and multifaceted.

But what core elements make such partnerships successful, besides the usual suspect, funding? With a single bottom line, short payback periods, and quarterly reports still dictating how corporations operate, are cross-sector partnerships reaching their full potential? What about the crucial but little talked about role of employees in the final fate of these projects and their eventual success?

A Business Model for Impact

According to Kal Stein, CEO of EarthShare, that’s the missing piece of the puzzle. Or, as he puts it:

What nonprofit leaders need the most to help them solve the social and environmental problems they’re tackling is funding. But while the corporate world has done a great job in connecting and partnering with the nonprofit sector over the years there tends to be one glaring disconnect when considering relationships between the two sectors—and for once, it’s got nothing to do with corporations not doing enough.

Typically, when corporations get on board with nonprofits and charities, they do one of two things, often both: “donate corporate dollars (or goods and services in kind), and encourage employees to volunteer, often on company time.”

But what if companies went beyond simply offering their people volunteer opportunities, or making them aware that the company was using a portion of its profits to do some good? What if they were to connect their people directly with organizations, encourage them to become part of the funding-volunteering-driving strategic solutions life cycle, and truly engage them in a program of learning and contributing?

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