This week’s Corporate Philanthropy Summit, hosted in New York City by the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP), was nothing short of spectacular. Leaders from major corporations and nonprofits spoke candidly on impact investing, skills-based volunteering, communicating with stakeholders, social media and partnerships. A contagious energy surged through the Time Warner Center as participants discussed how we can work together to do good more effectively. Below are eight of my top takeaways from the two-day event:
1. Women were in top form at the summit.
At a time when so many conferences agendas are heavily weighted by male speakers, it was refreshing to see 30+ women take center stage. It’s telling about the industry as well.
2. Collaboration leads to real impact.
Many speakers stressed the importance of partnerships in solving social problems. Arianna Huffington contended that our society is moving away from competition and survival toward collaboration and meaning. Cory Booker agreed, explaining that partnerships between the public, private and nonprofit sectors are crucial to transforming cities like Newark.
3. Companies should focus on social issues that align with their business and skills.
I had the pleasure of moderating a panel with senior leaders from Chevron Corporation, Hilton Worldwide and the Verizon Foundation. Each of these organizations explained how the social issues they focus on are linked with the identity of the company. For example, Verizon’s HopeLine program involves using phones and technology to prevent domestic violence and help victims rebuild their lives. Other panels focused on skills-based volunteering, which Morgan Stanley’s Executive Director of Community Affairs argued is a crucial investment that transforms how employees and stakeholders view the company.
4. Transparency is key.
One of the most popular Twitter takeaways the summit, originally tweeted by @DoSomething: “So much more good could happen in the world if people could honest about failure.” Honesty and transparency are paramount to effective corporate citizenship, with social media making it even more crucial for companies to be honest with their external stakeholders and “fail forward.” Transparency is also a key ingredient to successful corporate/NGO partnerships; these relationships will fail when both parties are not upfront with goals.
5. Social media increases impact.
Arianna Huffington touched on this theme early on, using Kickstarter and DonorsChoose.org as examples of how the internet can help solve social problems. Social media is not about technology—it’s about building relationships with your stakeholders, mobilizing them around your brand’s cause and communicating impact. Chase’s giving platform has 3.5 million fans, which is more than any other single Chase entity in social media. And how about this crazy stat: There are more people on Facebook today than on earth 200 years ago.
6. The time for corporate philanthropy to soar is now.
All indications show that corporate giving is growing and companies are reaping the benefits due to enhanced reputation, stronger employee engagement and consumer spending. Sixty percent of companies have increased their total giving since 2009, and 48% reported increases of more than 10%. If we continue down this path, impact investing in the United States—currently totaling $300 billion—could reach $600 billion in the next 5-10 years.
7. CECP knows how to orchestrate a stellar event.
All ran like clockwork, materials were well-created and there was no plastic to be seen. It was truly inspirational to meet so many new people from across sectors energized about working together to create social good.
8. Arianna Huffington and Corey Booker will never be out of fashion.