Corporate Social Responsibility: Leveraging Good Will





“Where should our company invest our philanthropic dollars?  Should we give more, smaller grants, or fewer, larger grants?  Should we do employee matching gifts? Or only fund nonprofits that fit a company theme – a cause that we choose related to our company product or service? Should our company sponsor employee volunteerism?  Should we encourage executives to serve on nonprofit boards?  Should this only be for C-suite executives at our company and C-suite boards? Should we have a company policy to support board service philanthropically?  If we move below the C-suite, how deep should we go, and what kinds of boards?”


These are the questions I hear from companies.


Based on my experience in the field, the answer is:

  • Create your company’s CSR strategy according to the brand and identity your CEO and board seek to establish in the global marketplace, and deliver meaningful CSR results with integrity.




  1. Drive all your philanthropic and volunteer resources for the most powerful impact you can have
  2. Coordinate marketing and human resources, together with corporate philanthropy and social responsibility, so that everyone is driving towards the same goal
  3. Measure your results as you go
  4. Report on your results in an annual CSR report in order to build momentum internally and gain the public relations advantage


For example, do you want your company associated with creativity, innovation, invention, leadership, or problem-solving?  Perhaps you want your brand identified in particular with technology, conservation, energy, human rights, healthcare, education, or people (perhaps specifically women…or children)?  More locally focused in each community where you have a presence, or nationally, or globally? 


Once you decide what you want to accomplish, you have a number of powerful tools to use to have an impact and make a statement.  These include philanthropic funds, including matching dollars (giving where your employees give) which companies find meaningful to employees as well as nonprofits and the community.  You can also use your contributions, as well as best practices, to encourage and support the following four forms of volunteer service:

  1. nonprofit board participation, which fosters professional and personal development for your executives and professionals in addition to being high-impact in advancing nonprofits and the community
  2. management assistance projects – also good for professional and personal development, and can be valuable to nonprofits
  3. hands-on group volunteering – great for team-building and company spirits
  4. one-on-one volunteering (like tutoring and mentoring)



CSR goes beyond philanthropy and service, also encompassing the company’s environmental practices, human rights protections, employment and safety, ethical business practices, and effective board governance.  All of these aspects of the business must be aligned under the direction and oversight of the CEO and board.  And all of these elements profoundly affect your company’s image which directly affect shareholder value.


By being strategic about CSR, companies can leverage their good will to benefit themselves, their employees, and most of all the communities where their employees and customers live and work.  Your company’s philanthropy and volunteer services are valuable resources.  Use them strategically and meaningfully.  It’s for everyone’s benefit.



About the author

Korngold provides strategy consulting to global corporations on sustainability, facilitating corporate-nonprofit partnerships, and training and placing hundreds of business executives on NGO/nonprofit boards for 20+ years. She provides strategy and board governance consulting to NGO/nonprofit boards, foundations, and educational and healthcare institutions. Korngold's latest book is "A Better World, Inc.: How Companies Profit by Solving Global Problems…Where Governments Cannot," published by Palgrave Macmillan for release on 1/7/14