Tag Archives: Innovation

Just Do It: Transforming Stakeholders Into Brand Evangelists using Philanthropy + Social Media

Increasing Competitiveness Through Good Corporate Citizenship

Companies today are facing increased pressure to be socially responsible as well as increased competition for customers and for the best employees.
As American business and families are on tighter budgets, they are making more conscientious decisions about the purchases they make. There is a subtle shift in the value proposition, where people are choosing where to put their time, energy and money not only into products, services and jobs that satisfy their self interest – what’s in it for me—but also a larger question of what value companies are bringing: how it effects their local community, the environment, and society.

Social Responsibility as a Differentiator
There are different ways companies choose to be socially responsible, by:
* Providing products that are designed or manufactured to minimize negative social and environmental impacts.
* Focusing on their operations and using supply chains that minimize negative social and environmental impacts.
* Engaging with their local communities to alleviate and solve local environmental and social problems, like illiteracy, hunger, homelessness, littering, conservation, and air pollution.

Companies choosing to focus on their product development or operations often invest significant amounts of time and energy into these initiatives and face both market and operational risks. These are critical aspects of developing a sustainable economy, but they are not equally accessible to all types of businesses.

Engage Your Community (photo by Savit Keawtavee)

Engage Your Community (photo by Savit Keawtavee)

Alternatively, all companies have the opportunity to engage with their local communities, and there are a wide range of ways to participate that can have long-lasting impacts.

This type of engaged social responsibility is also very visible to a company’s stakeholders. Consider the difference in opportunities to engage your key stakeholders and the different attitude and feelings you will prompt in them if your company announces a bold new recycling program (an internal effort) versus collaborating with neighbors to build a new playground that will give neighborhood kids a safe place to play (a public effort).

While both are worthy initiatives, one creates the opportunity to invite your stakeholders’ participation and is a tangible symbol in your community of your company’s impact. The other resides in corners and under desks and is hardly a rallying cry.

This post was originally published on FutureSpark at spark4impact.com

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National Parks, A Uniquely American Innovation

National Parks are a uniquely American concept. Sparked during the American civil war, the idea has often been in tension with that other American ideal, free markets and private ownership. Nonetheless, we did have the vision and insight that our great American landscapes are a treasure and should be protected by the people for the people. National parks are where democracy meets nature, an area that is protected from the Tragedy of the Commons.

One of the interesting questions is how do the Parks play in the imagination and hearts of Americans today, and how did it get to be this way? In our workaholic, always on, techno-gizmo world, what is our relationship to nature? What can it be? Are we alienated from nature, or just redefining our relationship to it and its place in our lives?

Moreover, how can this amazing and awesome resource be reincorporated with our modern lives and priorities to provide us with ongoing protection, rejuvenation, connection and inspiration? Not something we go to occasionally, but something incorporated into our lives. For many nature already holds a special, spiritual place in their hearts, but this is only one level at which our relationship to place can effect our lives. It can also effect our emotional, intellectual and social lives. For example, green spaces in urban centers become not just a refuge from concrete, but public spaces where ideas are exchanged. In the tranquilly and beauty of a greenspace, engineers contemplate the design of nature and how it can be adopted through biomimicry to create better products.

Many National Parks are “away” from our everyday experience. Where and how do we bridge the gap so, like anything we hold dear, being away is not alienation? Psychological and emotional distance does not follow the same rules as physical distance. Places we left long ago in childhood can be more immediate to our sense of self and daily life than the spaces we inhabit. Is there a place in our hearts, minds and lives for these crown jewels of America, the spaces that represent our national heritage, beauty, and ideals of democracy?