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On the entrepreneurial journey | The Hindu, 06 feb 2021
Do we give more to charity after we've been sick? | VoxEU, 05 feb 2021
How virtual reality has helped charities | Charity Digital, 05 feb 2021
Leading A Nonprofit Through A Crisis: Executives, Board, Staff, Volunteers, & Donors | Forbes, 05 feb 2021
Five ways social ventures are fighting fake news | Pioneers Post, 04 feb 2021
What can charity investment portfolios expect in the year ahead? | Third Sector, 03 feb 2021
Fewer Than 50% Of Nonprofits Have A Digital Marketing Strategy | The NonProfit Times, 02 feb 2021
How women are changing the philanthropy game | Deccan Herald, 31 jan 2021
Commentary: A V-Shaped Recovery for Volunteering? | The NonProfit Times, 13 jan 2021
Social enterprises can change entire industries. This is how | World Economic Forum, 11 jan 2021
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 dec 2020
Corporate volunteering is an important part of employee development with a reason to facilitate their engagement with local communities and to demonstrate corporation's social commitments. Currently there is special focus on corporate social responsibility and many organizations are pursuing it as an essential component of their strategy. According to the 2020 Deloitte Global Millennial Survey, employees have been re-examining the companies they work for with an eye toward purpose and impact on society. Research suggests that businesses benefit when they integrate employee volunteering programs with corporate giving, and these programs improve employee satisfaction, foster employee engagement, and boost retention. Macquarie University Graduate School of Management (Australia) research study undertaken as part of the MGSM Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Partnership Network, led by Dr. Debbie Haski-Leventhal, found that 93% of employees who volunteer through their company report being happy with their employer, and 54% of those who are proud of their company's contributions to society are engaged at work. In August 2019, the Business Roundtable (US) redefined their statement on the purpose of a corporation from a shareholder only focus to a larger commitment to stakeholders - customers, employees, suppliers, communities, and shareholders. Beth Bengtson, CEO and Founder of Working for Women, provides an approach to establish corporate volunteering programs with a long-term focus and avoid short-term 'once-and-done' experiences. She explains, 'This new approach requires having your team help a nonprofit solve organizational or operational challenges and/or deliver specialized resources to the population served by the nonprofit. This involves identifying a nonprofit where your employees can lend their skills and expertise over a designated period of time or on a series of connected events...In this strategic model, a tangible and sustained relationship is created between the corporate and nonprofit partners...The result in this model is that mutually beneficial skill-based volunteering adds up to a quadruple win when done right. Purposeful partnerships allow for impact to be measurable for all parties involved.' She developed following guidelines at her organization, Working for Women, - Identify and match the needs and the skills on both sides; Once there's a well-defined project and two willing partners, develop a detailed brief for each engagement; Do the work to understand what your nonprofit partner does and who they serve; Measure impact after each engagement, and before planning next steps; Replicate and scale as needed. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 13 aug 2020
The 'Report of the Committee on Business Responsibility Reporting' was recently released by Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA, Govt. of India) by MCA Secretary Rajesh Verma. The expert members of the committee include Gyaneshwar Kumar Singh (Chairman of the Committee & Joint Secretary, MCA), Amarjeet Singh (Executive Director, SEBI), Chandan Kumar (Deputy Director, MCA), Ashish Garg (President, The Institute of Company Secretaries of India, ICSI), Atul Kumar Gupta (President, The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, ICAI), Balwinder Singh (President, The Institute of Cost Accountants of India, ICMAI), Shankar Venkateswaran (Adjunct Faculty, Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs, IICA) and Viraf Mehta (Adjunct Faculty, Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs, IICA). The report, as part of new Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR) regime, suggests that businesses will have to disclose in detail how they try to influence regulatory policies and public opinion and list the public policy positions they advocate. The report proposes two different reporting procedures - one comprehensive mandatory reporting for large listed and unlisted companies and the other 'lite' reporting version for smaller businesses to adopt voluntarily. Disclosure of lobbying is considered an essential reporting requirement. The report says, 'Businesses, when engaging in influencing public and regulatory policy, should do so in a manner that is responsible and transparent.' Businesses also have to disclose details of public policy positions they advocate, methods resorted to for advocacy and whether information on this is available in the public domain. The report considers inclusion and diversity, and environmental considertations as important components of reporting. Former Secretary of MCA, Injeti Srinivas, who formulated the committee, writes in the report, 'With several global companies being larger than many nation states in terms of turnover, the responsibility of businesses to their stakeholders will only increase in the coming years. The NGRBC (National Guidelines for Responsible Business Conduct) and its companion BRSR is a significant step to enable businesses in India to not just behave responsibly, but to also demonstrate to its stakeholders that it walks the talk. We can then proudly say 'Make in India - Responsibly'.' Gyaneshwar Kumar Singh, Chairman of the Committee & Joint Secretary in MCA, writes in the report, 'The endeavour of the Committee has been to ensure that the BRSR reporting format would serve as a single source for all non-financial disclosures. Over the last two decades, public policy across the world, has been moving in this direction. In designing the structure of the report, the Committee has made a conscious effort to balance the objective of self-regulation through disclosures while ensuring that there is no undue compliance burden on companies.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 may 2020
CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) spend is mandatory for certain profitable corporations in India. Most businesses are strategically utilizing their CSR funds. Moreover, Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent directive by government for corporates to participate in Covid-19 relief as part of their CSR activity, has prompted companies to innovate their CSR spends. Gaurav Patra, founder of Value360 Communication, explains how marketers are utilizing the challenge posed by Covid-19 as opportunity to strengthen their brands by strategically focusing on CSR to support society and connect with communities. He says, 'In this hour of global crisis, various marketers are stepping up and aligning their strategy in line with the announcements made by the government. Brands should take this as an opportunity to look inward and be as resourceful as possbile towards the cause. Many companies and businesses are donating certain amounts to the 'PM Cares Fund' formed by the Government of India, while others focus on facilitating vital necessities like masks, sanitizers, gloves, medicines, food to the underprivileged, health institutions, hospitals, etc. Marketers and brands are also committing a certain portion of their CSR funds towards Covid Fund. They are also placing health check-up camps in tier-2 cities in order to help migrants get tested first hand. Few brands have also come forward to manufacture ventilators, sanitizers, thermal testers, drones lending assistance to the government in combating this pandemic situation.' Companies are utilizing various media channels like print, television, social media etc to create awarenesss and educate the masses through creatively designing campaigns with Covid-19 theme. Mr. Patra suggests, 'Given the scale and urgency of the situation, brands should co-create their solutions as an effective response to Covid-19 outbreak. Together, through the right channel, one voice, we can safeguard our nation and help fight this global pandemic.' Read on...
How marketers are now focusing on CSR in current COVID-19 situation
Author: Gaurav Patra
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 feb 2020
Volunteer time off (VTO) is the new concept in employee benefits in which a company offers paid time off for its employees to volunteer with nonprofit organizations. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) around 21% of American companies offer VTO, while Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose (CECP) says that more than 60% of enterprise-level companies are going all-in on VTO. Organizations implementing VTO can benefit in many ways - (1) Recruitment: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of employees who are voluntarily quitting their jobs is higher than ever. VTO can help attract the attention of young, fresh talent. A report from Fortune showed that Millennials were more likely to work for a company that has a proven history of social activism and corporate volunteerism. (2) Retention: The 2019 Global Talent Trends Study showed that 51% of employees wish their company offered more flexible work options. VTO is the most desired option that companies can give to philanthropic employees. According to NP Source Charitable Giving Statistics For 2018, employees who engaged in corporate giving programs tended to have 75% longer tenures with the company. (3) Corporate Visibility: According to NP Source stats, 90% of companies indicated that partnering with reputable nonprofit organizations enhances their brand and 89% believe partnering leverages their ability to improve the community. Turning employees into employee brand ambassadors empowers them to represent your company in a positive light. (4) Company Culture: Companies are highlighting their workplace culture as a way to retain current employees and recruit top talent. A 2017 study from Project ROI showed that companies investing in corporate responsibility are seeing the fruits of their labor - Turnover reduced by 50%; Employee productivity increase by up to 13%; Employee engagement increased by up to 7.5%. A 2017 Glassdoor survey showed that 75% of employees expect their employer to get involved in charity work either through donations or volunteer efforts, and nearly half of all employees surveyed expect their employers to allow them to company time to advocate for social change through volunteering. (5) Employee Growth: Employees seek growth opportunities. Volunteering has become popular to build resume and sharpen skills, thus making VTO attractive to employees. NP Source showed that 92% of surveyed HR executives agree that contributing business skills and expertise to a nonprofit can be an effective way to improve employees' leadership and broader professional skill sets. Following are some tips to effectively implement VTO - (i) Organize your time-off request process. (ii) Communicate with employees. (iii) Use software to optimize (corporate volunteering platform). Read on...
Here's Why VTO Is the Next Big Thing in Employee Benefits
Author: Lauren Pope
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 dec 2019
According to nseinfobase.com, CSR spends of Indian corporates have increased 17.2% to Rs. 11867.2 crore in FY19 from Rs. 10128.3 in FY18. This is the highest spend since FY15 (Rs. 6552.5 crore), when the CSR spend was made mandatory through Companies Act 2013. It is observed that corporates are increasingly using their CSR spends on charitable contributions. The highest amount of Rs. 4406 crore were for schedule VII (II) that focuses on education. The next big spend was Rs. 3206.5 crore under VII (I) for eradicating hunger, poverty, malnutrition and promoting health and hygiene. Rural development got Rs. 1319 crore and remaining went for projects that include environment protection, benefits to the armed forces, disaster management etc. From geographical point of view Maharashtra and Gujarat were at the top to get contributions while Bihar and North-East states got the least CSR funds. Experts say that large spends have also seemed to have prompted closer attention to how the money is spent. Amit Tandon, founder and MD of Institutional Investor Advisory Services India (IiAS), says, 'There are more and more companies who are doing impact assessment...people recognise the need to do it.' Pranav Haldea, MD at Prime Database, says, 'Low CSR budget could act as a constraint for some companies to adopt monitoring mechanisms. It may only make sense for firms with very large budgets. Smaller companies may find it too expensive to employ an agency for external audits on a regular basis.' Read on...
Companies spent Rs 11,867 cr on CSR activities in FY19; highest so far
Author: Sachin P. Mampatta
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 sep 2019
To tackle complex issues facing the world like environment protection, peace building, human rights, poverty, hunger etc, requires coming together of people, organizations and governments to find solutions through sharing diverse ideas, collaborative efforts and pooled resources. Around the world various platforms are developed to provide just that. At Stanford Social Innovation Review's (SSIR) Nonprofit Management Institute 2019, leaders and experts from diverse fields converged to address the economic and emotional anxieties facing civil society leaders and shared advice for moving forward with confidence. Prof. Tyrone McKinley Freeman of Indiana University said, 'We must pull more people into the philanthropic circle.' Mayor Libby Schaaf of Oakland said, 'We have got to think big and be less afraid of losing something through collaboration.' Jeffrey Moore, Chief Strategy Officer of Independent Sector, said, 'We have to co-create everything with community.' Charlotte Pera, President & CEO of ClimateWorks, said, 'We have to work together in and across philanthropy, civil society, government, academia.' Mayor Michael Tubbs of Stockton said, 'Change in collaboration really only moves at the speed of trust.' Bradford Smith, President of Candid, said, 'Building those relationships will take more than nice memos about teaming up - try joint projects.' The event had various sessions and here are the highlights - (1) THE CHANGING FACE OF AMERICAN PHILANTHROPY: Kim Meredith, Executive Director of the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, and Prof. Tyrone Freeman of Indiana University and co-author of 'Race, Gender, and Leadership in Nonprofit Organizations', discussed common myths of modern philanthropy, the true history of giving by minority groups in the US, and ideas on how to better connect with givers in anxious times. (2) MOVING FORWARD - MERGERS AS A GROWTH STRATEGY: David La Piana, Managing Partner of La Piana Consulting, Rinku Sen, a racial justice activist, author, and strategist, and Bradford Smith, President of Candid, discussed the upsides and risks of nonprofit mergers.' (3) VITAL BALANCE - INNOVATION AND SCALING FOR IMPACT IN THE SOCIAL SECTOR: Christian Seelos, co-author of the best-selling book 'Innovation and Scaling for Impact and co-director of the Global Innovation for Impact Lab at Stanford PACS, examined various 'innovation pathologies' that can derail organizations and 'innovation archetypes' - case study-based models that sidestep these threats, blending innovation with scaling. (4) LEVERAGING TALENT - THE POWER OF SKILLS-BASED VOLUNTEERING: Danielle Holly, CEO of Common Impact, Cecily Joseph, former VP of CSR at Symantec, and Greg Kimbrough, Lead Director of executive development at the Boys & Girls Club of America, shared insights gleaned from their experiences with volunteer programs. They talked about how can skills-based volunteering engage and strengthen your teams amid transitional, high-anxiety, or crisis situations. (5) ACHIEVING GREAT THINGS - THE ART AND SCIENCE OF ASPIRATIONAL COMMUNICATION: Doug Hattaway, President of Hattaway Communications, explored the best ways to use strategy, science, and storytelling to connect with an audience. (6) WORKING TOGETHER - HOW PUBLIC SECTOR AND NONPROFIT LEADERS CAN COLLABORATE TO TACKLE TOUGHEST CHALLENGES: Mayors Libby Schaaf of Oakland and Michael Tubbs of Stockton spoke with Autumn McDonald, Director of New America CA, about the best ways to build successful, mutually beneficial partnerships between local government and nonprofits. (7) TRUST, POWER, EQUITY - TELLING BETTER STORY TO OURSELVES AND THE WORLD: Jeffrey Moore, Chief Strategy Officer of Independent Sector, examined trends with the potential to restore the nonprofit sector's self-confidence and bring back the public's trust in it. (8) WEATHERING THE STORM - LESSONS ON EFFECTIVELY MANAGING THROUGH TOUGH TIMES: Maria Orozco, Principal of The Bridgespan Group, explored lessons from the last recession and drew from her organization's work in the years since to share insight on surviving and thriving in difficult times. (9) ACTIVATING AUDIENCES - PARTNERING BEYOND THE 'USUAL SUSPECTS' TO SPOTLIGHT SOCIAL ISSUES: Jessica Blank, a writer, director, actor, lecturer, and social innovator, Nicole Starr, VP for social impact at Participant Media, Marya Bangee, Executive Director of Harness, and Prof. Courtney Cogburn of Columbia University, discussed how storytelling can expand and accelerate social change and provided advice on how to wield narratives. (10) LEADING WITH PURPOSE - ACCEPTANCE, MINDFULNESS, AND SELF-COMPASSION: Leah Weiss, lecturer at Stanford GSB and the author of 'How We Work', described how to lead with acceptance and resilience using proven self-compassion and mindfulness techniques. (11) CLIMATE CHANGE - THE POWER OF TRANSCENDENT ISSUE TO MOTIVATE AND AFFECT REAL CHANGE: Larry Kramer, President of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Charlotte Pera, President & CEO of ClimateWorks Foundation, discussed the impact of climate change on society and nonprofits. Read on...
Stanford Social Innovation Review:
The Speed of Trust in an Anxious Era: Recap of the 2019 Nonprofit Management Institute
Authors: M. Amedeo Tumolillo, Barbara Wheeler-Bride
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 sep 2019
In the closing speech of United Nations Climate Action Summit 2019, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, 'You understand that climate emergency is the fight of our lives, and for our lives. I thank young people around the world for leading the charge – and holding my generation accountable. We have been losing the race against climate crisis. But the world is waking up. Pressure is building. Momentum is growing. And - action by action - the tide is turning.' Not so long ago, Ernest Hemingway (Novelist and Nobel Laureate) said, 'The world is a fine place and worth fighting for and I hate very much to leave it.' And now the stern remarks of Swedish teenager, Greta Thunberg, in the UN Climate Summit resonated around the world and were call to action for governments, businesses and all those responsible. Although all humans have responsibility to maintain the environment, but along with governments, businesses have extra responsibility towards the upkeep of environment, particularly those that use natural resources or have direct impact on natural environment. So, what it takes to be a sustainable business? The answers are many and approaches different. In 1987, the United Nations Brundtland Commission defined sustainability as 'meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.' For businesses to be sustainable would require change in current practices and they come with a cost. They have to evolve strategies towards sustainability by taking all the stakeholders on board. Moreover, one's move to sustainability may impact the environment in some other way. So, there are challenges to attain sustainability. Here are 4 reasons why it's hard for businesses to be sustainable - (1) THERE IS NO SINGLE DEFINITION OF 'SUSTAINABILITY': UN's Mr. Guterres in the recent Summit sets the goal to completely transform the world's economies to be more sustainable and find solutions to climate change. A daunting task considering the slow pace governments and businesses have been moving in that direction so far. Geoffrey Jones, a business history professor at Harvard University and the author of 'Profits and Sustainability: A History of Green Entrepreneurship', says, 'There is a crippling vagueness about what sustainability means. While carbon emissions are receiving much of the focus because of climate change, deforestation, water shortages and soil erosion are also serious problems that should not be ignored.' Lack of clear definition translates to lack of accountability. At present few companies can provide hard evidence that their businesses are not negatively impacting environment. Socially responsible investment funds (Environmental, Social & Governance - ESG) often include oil & gas companies, and also those that have plastics as an essential component of their business model. Businesses are tryig but it is a long way to go before they become truly sustainable. (2) DETERMINING THE VALUE OF SUSTAINABILITY: Switch to sustainability is costly for businesses. Bruno Sarda, President of the Carbon Disclosure Project North America, says, 'Someone can come up with a cost of doing something different much more quickly than determining what is the value to the business.' Sustainability solutions can be complex and expensive. (3) CONSUMING LESS CAN REDUCE PROFITS: Experts suggest that less consumption is road to sustainability. But, it is contrary to the basics of businesses - more consumption, more profits. There are exceptions though. Doug Freeman, COO of Patagonia (an outdoor clothing and gear company), says, 'We hope our existing customers do indeed buy less. But we hope to attract more customers that are interested in our message: to build the best product, to reduce our impact and cause the least amount of environmental harm.' (4) CLIMATE SOLUTIONS REQUIRE COLLECTIVE ACTION: 'Tragedy of the commons', an economic problem, creates a situation of competitive consumption of natural resources thereby depleting them. To overcome this, collaboration and cooperation, is imperative. Companies are now teaming up with each other and with environmental nonprofits. Joanne Sonenshine, CEO of Connective Impact, says, 'By working together, companies gain more leverage in the national and global marketplace and legitimacy in the eyes of consumers. If you have a group of very respectable nonprofits or research agencies saying we are working with this company because we believe they can make a change, that puts a lot of credence behind what they are trying to do.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 13 aug 2019
Social enterprises tackle societal and environmental issues utilizing business concepts for the larger interest of the society and reinvest profits back to sustain themselves. They support in building inclusive economy. According to the most recent statistics, there are around 5600 social enterprises in Scotland with an economic contribution of around £2 billion, ranging from community co-operatives to housing associations, enterprising charities and more. Duncan Thorp, policy and communications manager at Social Enterprise Scotland, explains how social enterprises are contributing to Scotland's economy and advocates collaborations between them and private sector for greater economic and social benefits. He explains why engaging social enterprises with private sector is win-win - 'Firstly, social failure is bad for business. Unemployment, homelessness, drug addiction and other issues negatively impact on businesses. People without work and opportunity don't have money to spend on goods and services. Social enterprises work at the frontline to solve these social problems. Private sector businesses should also engage with social enterprises because they bring real benefit in terms of opening up new markets and new business opportunities. Joint bids for public contracts and similar partnership working are options too. Businesses can contract social enterprises into their supply chains. This could be a catering contract, graphic design, meeting space hire or something else. It's also about private sector employees volunteering in social enterprises, in a skills exchange, for learning and personal development.' He advocates three key areas of partnership work - consumer demand, supply chains and contracting and procurement. He suggests that building mutually beneficial relationships between social enterprises and private sector businesses paves the way for knowledge exchange, positively influencing business culture and build an economy that benefits all. Read on...
Social enterprise is good for business - Duncan Thorp
Author: Duncan Thorp
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 may 2019
India's CSR legislation is a step in the right direction and is globally praised. Recently, 47 participants from 33 global multinational companies that are associated with WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development) visited India to learn about sustainable businesses. WBCSD Leadership Program is a year-long series of engagements and learning exercises in partnership with Yale University. Rodney Irwin, Managing Director of WBCSD's Redefining Value and Education program, says, 'The legislation asking large companies to spend 2% of their profit on corporate social responsibility (CSR) is appreciable, but large companies should not stop there. These large firms should look at making their businesses sustainable by integrating the concept of environmental, social and governance advantages into the core business.' He advocated the need for integrating sustainable approach to doing businesses along with maintaining profitability. He adds, 'In long-run, profitability can be greater if you embrace opportunities that accompany sustainable approach.' Since a number of large Indian companies are family-owned, he says, 'The companies that have family connections tend to not just make the businesses successful but they want to make sure that the business can be passed on to the next generation. They have a long-term vision.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 feb 2019
Companies Act of 2014 made India the first country that made CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) mandatory for a section of corporates. The companies were expected to integrate social development programs into their business models and culture. KPMG's 2018-19 report that analyzed the CSR work of 100 companies found that corporates increased their prescribed amount for CSR expenditure from Rs 5779.7 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 7096.9 crore in 2017-18. Moreover, they were actually spending more than what was prescribed (Rs 4708 crore in 2014-15; Rs 7424 crore in 2017-18. But India's most backward districts remain deprived these CSR funds. According to the Ministry of Rural Development, 115 of the 718 districts in India are backward. NITI Aayog suggests that corporates can contribute to the development of these districts. Jharkhand (19 districts, 1% CSR funds received); Bihar (13, 2%); Chhattisgarh (10, 1%); Madhya Pradesh (8, 3%); Odisha (8, 11%). While Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, which account for only 15% of such districts, have received 60% of the CSR money. The most backward districts got only 13% of this year's funds and not more than 25% of the total projects. Companies have found convenient ways to direct their CSR funds and shrug off their social responsibility. In July 2018, 272 companies were served notices by the Registrar of Companies for non-compliance with CSR expenditure. Between July 2016 and March 2017, about 1018 companies were issued notices for non-compliance. KPMG has identified three principal areas of non-compliance - disclosure of direct and overhead expenditure on projects, details of overhead expenses, and keeping these overhead expenses below 5% of total CSR spends. Sujit Kumar Singh, senior program manager at Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), says, 'There is no data to know if companies are undertaking need-based assessment studies, a must since it prioritises the requirements of the impacted communities.' Mr. Singh adds, '...Often, professionals handling CSR are not trained to comprehend societal nuances. In most cases those heading the human resource department handle CSR activities. The need now is a policy which drive companies towards self-regulation, the key to CSR.' According to the reporting guidelines that CSE has prepared, 'Companies should self-regulate and be responsive to the disadvantaged, vulnerable and marginalised sections of society. They should respect and promote human rights, make efforts to protect and restore the environment, and support inclusive growth and equitable development. The guidelines show how to improve accountability and transparency in CSR spending, and make it an integral part of business.' Read on...
Indian firms' CSR spending needs more accountability and transparency
Author: Vikrant Wankhede
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 nov 2018
Corporations are encouraging their employees to volunteer as part of their corporate social responsibility efforts. Experts recently conducted a workshop to discuss different stages of volunteering, scaling up the volunteer programs and how companies can use volunteering for better employee engagement, learning and alignment. Aditya Nagpal, Director and BU Head at Goodera, said, 'Our goal is to use technology and data to simplify volunteering, so more people are able to do good at scale. We feel that employee volunteering lies at the perfect intersection of people, planet and profit.' According to him companies go through five stages of volunteering - (1) Informal volunteering (2) Support and encouragement by launching initiatives (3) Planning initiatives strategically (4) Volunteering becomes essential component (5) Volunteering programs attain brand status. Svetlana Pinto, Country Head Communications & CSR at Novartis India, said, 'There are many advantages of volunteering that we have seen in our journey so far. Interestingly, we have found a lot of enthusiasm in the younger lot that is joining the workforce. Other things being equal, they would look more favourably towards an organization with a soul that helps them give back to the community. Volunteering has also helped in building a greater team spirit.' Ester Martinez, CEO & Editor-in-Chief of People Matters Media, conducted a session on 'Designing volunteering experiences for your workforce: Is your organization volunteering ready?' He addressed four challenges - getting started; sustainability of employees; architecting a good experience; policymaking. To overcome them it is important to have clear communication of values, better engagement of employees and a good reward and recognition program. Read on...
Designing volunteering experiences for your workforce
Author: Sharon Lobo
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 13 oct 2018
Indian corporates that fulfil the conditions of Section 135 of the Companies Act 2013 relating to mandatory spending of 2% of last 3 years average profit on CSR are making a difference in vulnerable communities in India. According to the latest India CSR Outlook Report published by NGOBOX, Reliance Industries, HDFC Bank, Wipro, Tata Steel, NTPC, Indian Oil Corporation & ONGC spent more than their prescribed CSR budgets in FY 2017-18. The report analyzed CSR spends of 359 companies. The prescribed CSR budget of these 359 companies was Rs 9543.51 crore whereas the actual CSR spend was Rs 8875.93 crore (3/4th of total CSR spend in India). There is an increase in the prescribed CSR from 6% to 8% in the actual CSR spend from FY 16-17 and the number of projects have also increased by 25% from the previous year. REPORT HIGHLIGHTS: Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat together received over 1/4th of India's total CSR fund. North-eastern states of Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura have received least funds; Public sector contribution is over 1/4th of the total; Oil, refinery and petrochemicals account for alsmost 1/4th of the total while healthcare and pharma contributes the least with just Rs 294 crore; CSR funding on education and skill increased by 50% from last year and is 1/3rd of the total CSR spend; Over 1/4th is spend on WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) and healthcare projects. Read on...
Corporates spend 50% CSR funds in education, skill development: Report
Author: Sonal Khetarpal
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 jul 2018
In a developing country like India low-income groups often lack access to proper healthcare. But, mobile technology can provide ways to enable these groups have knowledge and resources to drive preventative healthcare. Lead researchers, Aakash Ganju (co-founder of Avegen), Sumiti Saharan (Neuroscientist, Team Lead of Design & Research at Avegen), Alice Lin (Global Director of social innovation at Johnson & Johnson), Lily W. Lee (President of Almata, a division of Avegen), explain the research conducted by their team on the digital usage patterns of underserved groups in two urban areas of India, and iteratively tested user interface and content design. Researchers generated primary research insights from more than 250 new mothers and fathers living in low-income communities, and achieve understanding of the core barriers and digital needs of this population. Researchers suggest, 'Embedding health care into digital tools requires that providers overcome contextual barriers and undertake deliberate design processes. To succeed, providers must develop a nuanced understanding of the obstacles to consuming information digitally, as well as glean insights from technology, interface design, and behavioral science.' Following are some insights from the research - (1) Cost is no longer the biggest barrier: In the last year, a strong government regulatory authority has promoted competition and consumer benefits that have rapidly driven down both smartphone and data costs. (2) Infrastructure can overcome any remaining cost barriers: Only 5% of people living in less-connected and less-developed localities owned smartphones, compared to a significant 56% of individuals with similar incomes living in neighborhoods with good mobile network and infrastructure. (3) Digital experiences are not often built for low-income, urban populations: The most pervasive barrier to digital adoption in India today is a lack of knowledge about how to use digital interfaces. Language is also a barrier. India has an overall literacy rate of 74%. However, only about 10% of Indians can communicate in English - the language of the Internet. Local language content is scarce. There are gaping holes in the understanding of early-stage user requirements and pain points, from both the digital interface and content experience perspectives. (4) There is a lack of trust in health-related digital information: Low-income, underserved communities who have not been exposed to authentic digital content often have extreme distrust in digital information pertaining to health. Only 12% of families thought information from digital sources was reliable, compared to more than 90% finding information from doctors and mothers to be most, very, or somewhat reliable. According to researchers, to truly meet the needs of underserved consumers, providers must focus on the following areas - (1) High-quality content: To engage users on digital platforms, providers must use differentiated content that connects with a user's specific journey. The form, tone, and continuity of content matters. Video formats optimized for small, low-quality displays are most effective in driving engagement. When visual formats are not feasible, audio formats are the next best alternative. Understand the environments in which users consume health. Include local elements in the content, like referring to local clinics etc. (2) Behavior change: Engaging users is vital to directing changes in consumer health behavior. It's important to be deliberate about the design of the user journey. Offering incentives for content consumption, sharing, and specific health-related behaviors can help nudge users toward desired health-related behaviors. (3) Technology: Mobile apps need to be light and fast, have low memory and data requirements, and be able to run on slow and patchy networks. Display data consumption frequently, enhanced ability to view offline content and share content within community is important for engagement. (4) Design team structure: Multidisciplinary teams that bring together expertise in technology, design, business and sustainability, end-user thinking, and behavioral sciences tend to create the most effective designs. To design for the end user, providers must design with the end user, particularly for populations who are not digitally fluent. Teams should develop a thinking environment and processes that allow for hypothesis development, application design, testing, analytics, and retesting in rapid, parallel, iterative cycles. Read on...
Stanford Social Innovation Review:
Expanding Access to Health Care in India Through Strong Mobile Design
Authors: Aakash Ganju, Sumiti Saharan, Alice Lin Fabiano, Lily W. Lee
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 may 2018
Traditionally, businesses have been using corporate social responsibility (CSR) to contribute to society and tackle social issues through philanthropy, charitable giving, offering employees volunteer time etc. Recently, a letter to shareholders by an influential investor, Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, rekindled the debate around purpose and effectivenesss of CSR. His messages was, 'To achieve their full potential, public and private companies need to do more than simply give of their time and money; they need to find more innovative and impactful ways to contribute to solving the broader challenges in society.' Katie Bouton, Founder and CEO of Koya Leadership Partners, explains the need to better integrate business goals with public purpose and balance financial obligations to shareholders. This can be achieved through 'Purposeful Engagement', a more impactful CSR strategy. Ms. Bouton suggests the key elements to integrate into this new operating strategy - (1) Articulate a Larger Purpose: Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, described their larger purpose as, 'Coffee is what we sell as a product, but it's not the business we're in. We're in the people business.' Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple, often talked about the company's larger mission of making high quality computers available to everyone. (2) Align Business Goals with Social Purpose: Larger purpose should be designed and implemented in a way that is integral to business success. Every employee should be engaged with larger mission. Measurements should be developed for every department and business line. (3) Integrate Resources to Maximize Impact: Lack of coordination and integration wastes resources. CSR efforts are often siloed in differenet departments. All departments should work together for a common purpose. (4) Build a Diverse and Inclusive Team: A McKinsey study showed companies with higher-diversity leadership teams and boards have 30% more success than those that don't. (5) Understand the Future Workforce: Millennials will make up over 50% of the workforce by 2020, according to PwC. Values and purpose are priorities for them. Purposeful Engagement becomes vital to attract and retain the talent for future. Read on...
Beyond CSR - Leading With More Purposeful Engagement
Author: Katie Bouton
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 mar 2018
Corporates often fund nonprofits to fulfil their commitments and responsibilities to the communities they operate in, and also to enhance their brand value and achieve a positive public relations. But, since the funds are limited and there are number of competiting nonprofits, corporates seek best value and return on their giving and investments. Nonprofits have to find ways to differentiate themselves and give an attractive proposition as part of their corporate fundraising effort whether they are considering cause sponsorship, 'pin-up' or point-of-purchase campaigns, corporate volunteering/employee engagement or cause marketing. Chris Baylis, president and CEO of The Sponsorship Collective in Ottawa (Canada), suggests ways to consider for successful corporate fundraising - (1) Corporate partnerships are not just philanthropy. Think beyond the good cause, clearly define your audience and understand the value of your brand. Determine the interest and buying power of your audience. (2) Use your cause to attract (and define) your audience and your audience to define and attract prospects. Use the cause as a valuable link to connect your audience and prospects. (3) Make your value known to the prospects and list every single asset you have to offer. Estimate the cost of similar exposure and services that prospects can avail elsewhere. Understand the value of your audience. (4) Logo placement, although more visible to the public, is just a small component of cause partnership. Think more of real value and outcomes. (5) Share fulfillment report with your partners and how it is tied to their goals. It explains the value they got in return, satisfies internal decision makers, helps in renewal of contract and build long-term partnerships. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 mar 2018
According to the recent report based on PRIME Database, listed Indian companies that total 1019 have spent Rs. 9034 crore in 2017-18 to fund their CSR (Corporate Social Resposibility) projects and activities. Nearly 37% of these funds were used for education and vocational skill training activities. This development area also witnessed the largest absolute increase in allocation of resources and funds. Moreover, the biggest increase was found in activities that support and benefit the armed forces veterans, war widows and their dependents. Other focus areas that saw increased in expenditure were community development, infrastructure, environment sustainability, social welfare, sports, and slum development. But, eradication of hunger and poverty, and promotion of healthcare and sanitation had expenditure decreased by 18.6%, from Rs. 2944 crore to Rs. 2394 crore. Report by KPMG, 'India CSR Reporting Survey 2017', showed that while education and healthcare have been in focus for the past three years, organizations have slowly begun diversifying their area and geography of development in the last one year. Another recent report found the total CSR expenditure figure at Rs. 7050 crores and said that out of India's top 100 firms, 59 met their CSR targets, while 33 companies had an expenditure of less than required 2%. This report also listed educational projects, rural development, and healthcare as the key focus areas of the companies. Read on...
India Inc.'s CSR spend highest on education and skilling - Report
Author: Manav Seth
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 dec 2017
Corporations and businesses are actively involving themselves in social and community development through corporate social responsibility (CSR), philanthropy, nonprofit partnerships, volunteering etc, to create social impact and a better world. Volunteering can play an important role in providing skills that help in building a solid foundation for a successful career. Ebony Frelix, SVP of philanthropy and engagement at Salesforce, says, 'Some of my most memorable character building experiences and important learning moments have come from volunteering. I really do feel that giving back deepens our connections, bringing companies, people and communities together.' During her early career at Salesforce she managed interns from a nonprofit and later on joined Salesforce.org to lead the company's volunteer programs in Americas. She adds, 'The role opened my eyes to the possibility that I could merge my passion for volunteering with my professional career.' Salesforce applies 1-1-1 model for CSR and philanthropic activities. Marc Benioff, founder and CEO of Salesforce, at the time of founding of the company in 1999, set aside 1% of employee time for volunteering, 1% of equity for philanthropic donations, and 1% of products or services to give away to nonprofits. As a result of applying this model, Salesforce has given more than US$ 184 million in grants, 2.5 million hours of community service and provided product donations for more than 33000 nonprofits and higher education institutions. Business, technology and social impact are interconnected. Businesses realize that to do well, they have to participate in doing good. Consumers are now sensitive to ethical aspects of businesses and expect them to align with their values. Cone reports that 87% of Americans will purchase a product because a company advocates for an issue they care about and 76% refuse to purchase a company's products upon learning it supported an issue contrary to their beliefs. Ms. Frelix says, 'I'm excited about the intersection of the nonprofit and technology industries, and seeing innovative systems and products now accessible to nonprofits after traditionally only being available to large corporations.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 nov 2017
Nonprofits have big ideas for social good but limited resources to accomplish them. Nonprofit-corporate partnerships can be a solution to match the vision and commitment of nonprofits with the resources and practices of corporates for making a better world. According to Danielle Silber, director of strategic partnerships at American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), 'Whether it's tackling the Muslim ban or protecting green spaces, nonprofits have products and services that many companies realize they need to create a healthy business environment, and to contribute to a world their stakeholders - employees, investors and customers - want to live in.' Jessica Scadron, founder of Social Harmony, explains ways to make nonprofit-corporate partnerships successful - (1) A Shared Vision: Although companies and nonprofits have different reasons for partnering, both should agree on the partnership's purpose and outcomes. (2) Define the Partnership: Make sure each organization knows who is responsible for what, how decisions will be made, and which organization will lead the project; Appoint individuals to fulfil commitments; Cheryl Damian, SVP of Ketchum Social Purpose, says, 'Partnership terms are negotiated like any other contract. Not only does it drive accountability, it provides a clear understanding of roles and expectations...' (3) Monitor and Evaluate: Measure progress and figure out how to align metrics with disparate entities; Measurement is critical to the success of the project in order to quickly build on what works, learn from what doesn't, and keep momentum. (4) Communicate: Open dialogue will strengthen your collaboration and lead to better outcomes; Establish processes for communicating with your partner, and your internal team; Create a project work plan, schedule weekly check-in calls, and use technology to communicate. (5) Flexibility: Organizations have their own culture and they evolve and grow, and so do partnerships. Be flexibile and accomodating in approach and resolve conflicts with patience and understanding. Read on...
5 Ingredients to Make Your Nonprofit-Corporate Partnership Succeed
Author: Jessica Scadron
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 oct 2017
Social enterprises are businesses driven by the purpose to do social good and work for the uplifment and betterment of society. Business corporations too are creating similar impact through their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives and often partner with social enterprises. The concept of doing good while making money is becoming mainstream. According to a survey by Rappler, '90% of millennials today value purpose as highly as salary and career progression in choosing their place of work. They prioritize impactful businesses that are sustainable and responsible in conducting their operations.' Thomas Graham, founder of MAD (Make A Difference) Travel and author of 'The Genius of the Poor', explains how a community of social entrepreneurs, 'Gawad Kalinga (GK) Enchanted Farm' in Bulacan (Near Manila, Philippines), is making a difference in the local community and market, what for-profit businesses can learn from their way of working, and provides an example of a growing social enterprise that is part of the system. Even Jean-Philippe Courtois, President of Microsoft International, visited the GK Enchanted Farm, a 42-hectare farm-village-university, not only to give back but also to meet the entrepreneurs there and learn more about how their values-driven approach has been able to make an impression in the market. Mr. Graham says, 'The greater goal of the farm, however, is not to convince everyone to become a social entrepreneur, but to demonstrate that doing business in the spirit of 'walang iwanan' (no one gets left behind) can be beneficial to everyone, no matter how big or small a business is.' Explaining the working model of a social enterprise in the GK farm, 'Plush and Play' (founded by a Frenchman Fabien Courteille), Mr. Graham says, 'Instead of conducting a more conventional business approach, which might involve extensive market research and a strict business model, followed by the importing of skills from elsewhere, Courteille instead spent his time living in the GK village, discovering the aspirations and talents of the community - in this case, sewing - and building a business plan out through unleashing the potential he saw before him.' Mr. Courteille comments, 'I did not choose an industry, but a beneficiary.' There are lessons that are to be learned from the working and progress of social enterprises. Mr. Graham says, 'Of course, 'Plush and Play' still has a long way to go before its volume of sales can compete with other mainstream brands in the Philippines, but there are lessons we can take from Courteille progress thus far. As consumers become increasingly patriotic and socially/environmentally conscious, having a great and authentic story to tell can set you apart, even in the most congested of markets. In this sense, doing good really does make good business sense.' He further explains, 'There are over 40 different social enterprises all at varying stages of growth and development, but what is to learn from them is valuable to any business: hard work, resilience, ingenuity, creativity, innovation, sustainability and taking care of one's employees and environment.' Read on...
Big businesses could learn from social enterprises
Author: Thomas Graham
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