CSR Summit - Lessons for an NFP - Engagement
4 December 2006 at 1:12 pm
The recent CSR Summit, organised by MOSS – Models for Success and Sustainability, held in Sydney provided stimulating debate on the current CSR process in Australia – and it also had a message for the Not for Profit sector.
Pro Bono Australia team member Emma Peyton reports.
While the conference was mostly a discussion between corporations, an NFP has much to take from the case studies presented.
CSR is often discussed from a business-centric position when in reality it is a discussion about social matters – the community and those that provide services to the community.
On the third and final day of the conference a group travelled to the Salvation Army in Surrey Hills, Sydney for a discussion on “Building Sustainable communities through Partnerships and Volunteering.”
This day was one of reflection and consolidation as the participants digested the theory from the previous two days juxtaposed against the ‘real’ life presented at the Salvo’s.
The impact on the participants was that the essence of CSR is engagement. Engagement between the wider community and the corporation, including the corporation’s major stakeholders – employees, customers and yes, even the shareholders.
So how can an NFP facilitate this engagement while maintaining its own identity, culture and mission?
Russell Workman of the Salvation Army’s Oasis Program says that the NFP and corporate need to enter into a ‘social contract’ where the NFP is not asking for just money or giving but it is about sharing skills, heart, energy and passion.
Russell emphasised the need to give the corporate something they can get excited about, a vision and passion. Russell says an NFP can get employees in the corporate to help solve problems at the same time creating personal relationships and connections with the cause.
The Salvation Army’s Oasis Program has also been very successful in gaining long term commitment from supporters by encouraging a corporate to own a particular program. The concept of ownership must also be matched by a reality of what ownership costs. In turn the NFP must be prepared to give public recognition to the supporter.
Dr Arne Rubinstein, CEO of the Pathways Foundation, also presented at the conference. Dr Rubinstein discussed his involvement with Social Ventures Mentoring program.
The Pathways Foundation says it has extremely good relations with senior management in corporates that have mentored Pathways through a huge growth phase.
These companies include Macquarie Bank, Lion Nathan, ABN AMRO, AMP and Mallesons.
In a recent article from the Ethical Investor, Rubinstein says for these companies the relationship is more than token corporate social responsibility, it is engaged philanthropy.
MOSS is a newly established industry body for individuals corporates, governments and Not for Profits interested in CSR and corporate sustainability.