This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

December 8, 2010

Executives Want to Make a Local Impact

The number one reason (30 percent) why executives invest in philanthropic and socially responsible activities is to have an impact on what they consider to be "critical issues". In a recently released study by Weber Shandwick's Social Impact specialty group, results reflected executives' views on corporate social responsibility (CSR). This new research also revealed that 25 percent of executives polled fund corporate social responsibility because they want to see their organization's values in action.

The third most popular reason was building customer loyalty (15 percent); fourth was, differentiating the company from competitors (6 percent) and fifth was engaging and retaining employees (4 percent).

Nearly 60 percent of the responding executives said that they fund nonprofits. Nonprofits are ideal partners because they make the CSR investment seem more effective. Nonprofits also provide a critical foundation and infrastructure for giving, contribute their expertise to corporate representatives, and help engage consumers by promoting the mutually beneficial project or event.

Moreover, the survey found that eight out of ten executives (79 percent) consider nonprofits to be valuable partners. To accomplish their goal of having an impact on specific critical issues, corporations look at their own community needs. They ask how they can focus their resources and expertise to foster genuine change. Given the urgent need for improvement in the United States and elsewhere on vital issues like education, health and wellness, economic development, and environmental sustainability, this news is very encouraging.

The most important ingredients in creating successful CSR programs are "strong and vocal support from senior managers" (94 percent) and well-defined objectives and outcomes (91 percent). In other words, senior leadership drives success. Conducted in October, this survey polled corporate executives in large companies with responsibility for philanthropic, social responsibility or community relations.

Based on these attitudes, local nonprofits can count on the majority of large companies to step up to the plate and support their initiatives. However, complicating the situation, more and more nonprofits will appear to compete for the attention and the resources of the local corporations. Increasing evidence will emerge on the value of CSR to attract and retain internal (employees) and external customers.

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