The bar for social change has been raised. However, most corporations are not prepared for what is quickly becoming a radically new landscape. Many of us remain entrenched in an outdated model of corporate social responsibility which does not deliver adequate business or social impact.
It's important to note that corporations and brands are being asked to solve social problems they know nothing about. At the same time, all great social change comes from people directly experiencing the problem. Connecting with these folks is key to a CSR effort in a company making that organization social change leaders. You need to partner with organizations who work with those populations. And you need to meet at those organizations, not in your corporate office.
One way to make this work is to involve people with lived experience. As part of this, you need to get people involved in a setting outside of an office. When designing a program, you need to think about who is designing programs and how. For example, the Tailor Project, which employs Syrian refugees, also involved them in the design, and business development. One of the benefits of this approach is that it creates a richer business in terms of value and product.
Taking this a step further, invite people with lived experience to design campaigns and communications activities. For instance, for a program that was supporting indigenous women entrepeneurs, the organization hired an indigenous woman graphic artist and communications expert. As a result, the process will amplify itself and also serve as a media story to help the effort succeed.
Social change is the new bottom-line. If you are going to engage in this work, you need to be sure you get it right.
Paul Klein is the Founder & CEO of Impakt. This article is a recap of the Corporate sponsorship conference organized by Spire Philanthropy and The Sponsorship Collective.
Ann Rosenfield is the Editor of Hilborn Charity eNews. Any errors in this article reflect that she was trying to draft this, tweet the highlights and eat a bagel all at the same time. She did one of those successfully.