Five Effective Strategies for a Successful, Civically Minded Culture

Corporate leaders have long known the importance of assisting nonprofit organizations and communities through individual volunteerism opportunities, monetary donations or serving on a board of directors. Likewise, today’s younger employees want to give back in meaningful ways that improve the lives of others on a local and global scale. This desire to affect change has fueled companies to reconsider what it means to be a civically minded organization and how to develop a culture that meets the needs of leaders, employees and other shareholders. Pat Gottfried, vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility for Apollo Education Group, shares five tips that corporate leaders can implement today to develop a successful plan to become more civically minded.

  1. Leadership Starts at the Top. Organizations where senior leaders demonstrate commitment to social responsibility as part of the organizational culture tend to build stronger engagement programs than those where individuals are less present in community leadership. At Apollo Education Group, senior leaders actively volunteer time serving in these capacities with their nonprofit partners, addressing critical education needs across the county.
  2. Align the company’s mission with the organization. When a social responsibility strategy aligns with the mission of an organization, it is readily adopted within the fabric of company operations. As an education company, Apollo Education Group’s substantial educational expertise and resources are shared with nonprofit partners whose common mission is to provide access to education and increase opportunities for future career success. Apollo Education Group’s partners benefit from assistance with curriculum development, to scholarship programs, volunteer talent and in-kind technology donations.
  3. Develop formal company policies. It is important to create a formal company policy that rewards employees for their dedication to community service, such as paid-time off, as well as support team-building initiatives that include large scale employee volunteerism projects.
  4. Analyze measurable outcomes. Corporations do not engage in philanthropy because it is good for them to do, but because it is necessary for them to do. Considering that funding decisions are made based on demonstrated outcomes, companies have an obligation to their many stakeholders to demonstrate positive results in addressing social issues. For example, Apollo Education Group monitors tutoring programs that it supports to ensure they are effective by reviewing changes in student grade point averages or graduation rates. Obtaining quantifiable data is more beneficial than merely counting the number of clients per program.
  5. Continuous evaluation, adjustment and learning is key. It is easy for corporations to become attached to favorite charitable groups. After all, these organizations are mission-driven and doing important work. A true philanthropic partnership occurs when both company and charity are engaged in common goals. Both parties should challenge each other to build better, more innovative programs that address ongoing complex needs.

By harnessing employee passions, leading by example, measuring results and adjusting to extend the benefits of each community investment activity, businesses at all levels of community engagement can develop a true culture of affecting positive social change.