publication date: Dec 6, 2011
author/source: James Temple and Janet Gadeski
Lately, there's been a lot of discussion concerning corporate
. While the idea is
not new, blogger Paul Klein reframes the concept as the balance future leaders
hope to find between long-term economic value, widespread community benefit and
the development of social capital.
Social purpose comprises three core concepts:
bringing relevant leadership to fruition
defining why businesses exist
expanding corporate responsibility well beyond
embedding good social, environmental and economic values into business
We only need to look outside our windows to see the impact
of worldwide "Occupy" protests. Whether reflecting upon the myriad of views and
experiences that are shaping a complex conversation, or trying to grasp the
depth of knowledge that's behind the movement itself, it's clear that a call
for individual action is paramount.
The impact on your
When considering the role of corporations in this setting,
it's evident that their employees can help transform the way not-for-profit
organizations influence and enhance the impact of their work through volunteer
initiatives. Charities can accomplish much in little time towards their social
mission by making the most of these volunteers' passion, skills, networks,
experiences and ideas.
A change in consciousness is helping people move away from
wanting to "fix" the not-for-profit sector via an organized event or
experience. The model for working with charities is finally being revamped (which is a great thing I might add - James
People are now taking personal accountability for their actions, as well as the
collective actions of their organizations, within a framework of a long-term
approach to sustainability.
All of this has an impact on businesses, not-for-profits and
governments alike. It's critical to remember that every organization is made up
of a unique group of individuals from its surrounding communities whose
combined consciousness helps to shape its values. Adapting to societal,
economical and environmental changes helps organizations maintain their impact
within the area of corporate social purpose.
The role of the "advoteer"
This is where an idea that we might call "advoteering" comes
I like to think that advoteering is how an individual acts
upon their personal responsibility to advocate for community engagement within
the walls of their own organization. Using their personal experiences,
networks, passions and processes, a person can volunteer their time on the job
to advocate for an issue that matters to them.
Whether it's talking on the phone with a friend or promoting
a cause at the water cooler, people can describe the context of complex issues
in a way that helps others understand why a specific issue is a priority (or
why it's not).
How and why to
support your advoteers
By enabling your board members and volunteers to frame such
discussions in their workplaces, you can spread awareness of your organization,
its cause, and the nonprofit sector in general beyond the person or two from
company X who may be formally involved with you.
That's why it's important to make sure your volunteers
understand your organization at the deepest level: its challenges, its impact,
its strategy. Increasing national understanding of charities' work and impact
was a top agenda item at Imagine Canada
November. Well-informed advoteering can play a huge role in closing that gap.
It's a grassroots approach to grapevine communication that reshapes
community consciousness and breaks barriers between communities and
organizations. Ultimately, they are the same ideas guided by the same values.
For examples of how advoteering
is already occurring in organizations, tune into James' TED talks
presented as part of TEDxCalgary.
James Temple is
the director of corporate responsibility for PricewaterhouseCoopers Canada and
director of the PricewaterhouseCoopers Canada Foundation. He oversees a team
responsible for integrating good social, environmental and economic values into
PwC's decision-making processes.
James is a featured presenter at international
conferences, speaking on the value of developing strong corporate-community partnerships.
He co-chairs the Association of Corporate Grantmakers and sits on the Advisory
Board for the Institute at Havergal College.
Contact him at 416-815-5224, by email,
Janet Gadeski is president of Hilborn and editor of eNEWS. Contact her by email, or browse this website for more helpful articles.