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changing the world

Changing the World: Corporate America Resets

by Sandra Pfau Englund on Sep 25, 2019

If you read the news recently, then you might have learned something important. Corporations could be changing the world. In August of 2019, the Business Roundtable met. This group consists of companies such as Apple and Walmart. Until now, the Business Roundtable, and many textbooks, have stated that the purpose of for-profit stock corporations is to serve their shareholders by focusing on profits. For the first time in 20 years, their statement includes that business must also invest in the environment and their employees, and deal fairly with suppliers.

What does this mean to nonprofits? The time is now to partner with for-profit to promote social good. 

Corporate leaders seeking to change the world

The fact that the Business Roundtable has shifted from only focusing on shareholder profits is excellent news. Today's consumer seeks to patronize businesses that focus on social good. Corporate CEOs can read the tea leaves. They understand it's in their interest to help change the world for the better. 

Issues corporations understand they have to change

Nonprofits now have an excellent opportunity to partner with corporations. While shareholders will always be necessary for companies, corporations also know that they can’t ignore the social good. Also, expect to see more investment into training and development of their teams. It is even more necessary at a time of the rise of artificial intelligence.

Corporations also have spoken of a focus on the environment. Again, this issue is something that is happening at a global level. And, you have young activists who are shaming leaders, including businesses, who don't care for the environment. The reality is simple to understand. The young are the future of the world. They want to benefit from the planet—responsibly—as billions of humans have done before them.

And, we have also arrived at a time where businesses understand they must support suppliers. Some global corporations have been known to exploit producers. But, because of the focus on social justice, especially from the young, this is no longer acceptable.

The opportunity for nonprofit leaders to change the world

The fact that the Business Roundtable has moved from a sharp focus on shareholders to other issues as described is an excellent opportunity. What it means is that businesses will now seek to align themselves further with opportunities in social good. While the group did not explain how they will address the additional focus, we should assume they will move to do so. It's rare for the corporate community to make a forceful statement and then not follow-through. Therefore, it's safe to think that corporations have started the work of realigning social good into their business plans. This kind of corporate social responsibility, in effect changing the world, is good for business.

So, as a nonprofit leader, how can you become a partner with corporations and other businesses in your community? Remember, you're the expert at what you do. The time has arrived to redouble your efforts with corporations and business. But where do you begin? How do you get started?

1. Make the commitment

Now that the Business Roundtable seeks to change the world, it's your time to get started in helping them. Commit to investing your resources in corporate and business fundraising.

2. Do the research

Once you've decided to strike while the iron is hot, do the research. Assign someone on your team to research local and national companies that can become partners. See who they support with their guidelines and develop your list of prospects.

3. Prioritize your list to change the world

When you have a list developed, prioritize the list. Begin by the corporations and businesses closest to you and with the highest likelihood of supporting you. Then, move onto those further from your sphere of influence.

4. Ask for help

After you prioritize the list, ask your board, and key supporters who might have an "in" into new corporations or businesses. If someone works at a company or serves on their board, you want to ask for their help in giving you entry.

5. Develop a great pitch

Think carefully about how to make a partnership with a company a win/win. Remember, it's not just about you and your cause. Companies are looking to show investors, the public, and customers that they can make money—and a difference. So, consider what's in it for them when creating a pitch.

In sum, the months and years ahead will be exciting. It's great that corporations have decided it's in their interest to be more socially responsible. In the end, nonprofit leaders and companies can join together to change the world. Meaning, this is a great time for philanthropy and nonprofits.

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