5 CSR Trends For 2017

This blog was originally posted by our friends at Bmeaningful at the beginning of 2017 when they predicted the following trends and opportunities in CSR.

1. THE POWER OF THE EMPLOYEE.

We anticipate that the drive for purposeful work will continue to thrive in 2017 and that companies that put mission first and/or intentionally foster a culture that supports social intrapranuership will win the talent war. There’s tremendous opportunity to engage employees through cause and those professionals that create positive change from within will be rewarded both with valuable experience and recognition.

2. THE ‘LANGUAGE’ OF IMPACT WILL BECOME MORE SOPHISTICATED.

Corporate social responsibility and it’s ‘family’ of sectors (e.g. corporate citizenship, social finance, etc) has progressed its communication from 1.0 to 2.0. With progression means more possibility for meaningful conversations, but it also means greater possibility for confusion. As you can tell from our recent article on 37 Search Term Ideas for Jobs with Impact, there is a lot of terminology making it challenging for new comers to understand. Regardless, the people who are working (or want to work) in impact need to be well versed in the language of impact. We also anticipate that the language will become more consistent and mainstream.

3. TECHNOLOGY WILL CONTINUE TO ACCELERATE IMPACT.

In 2017 we anticipate that technology will continue to be used to create a seamless customer experience. We believe nonprofits in particular will capitalize on this trend to focus on making giving easier- from experimental bitcoins to new software. Nonprofits like charity:water have shown us how technology can enhance the donor experience and do a better job measuring and communicating impact. Also, we foresee a growth spurt of new purpose oriented businesses leveraging new technologies to tackle big problems.

4. CSR WILL BECOME EVEN MORE MAINSTREAM.

From incorporating CSR into every job description to a greater focus on social responsibility, 2017 will see CSR more in the mainstream. While it’s encouraging to see more companies embracing doing well by doing good, it doesn’t mean that all companies efforts are created equal. As such, it’s getting more difficult to differentiate between authentic programs and greenwashing. Breaking through the clutter of messaging and advertising will be a challenge but we see tremendous opportunity for professionals who can authentically tell their companies’ cause story. We also see big possibilities for those who want their companies to do more as there has never been a better time to pitch sustainability (in some form) at work.

5. A FOCUSED EFFORT ON MEASUREMENT AND EVALUATION.

Measurement and evaluation have always been a fundamental part of the nonprofit sector but in 2017 we believe we’ll see more in depth approaches. We also believe more for-profit (in particular impact investing funds) and social enterprises will borrow lessons from the nonprofit sector and focus on measurement and communication of their efforts. Organizations that can master both and do it well not just externally but internally as well will position themselves well for success.

Fast forward nearly 6 months and we’re almost halfway through the year. We’ve seen these predictions come validated with more and more brands incorporating authentic sustainability programs and cause marketing, and a growing number of consumers holding brands accountable for greenwashing. Companies are using technology to accelerate their impact, and more and more companies are placing a greater emphasis on measuring and evaluating their social impact.

With consumer trust at all-time lows and expectations higher than ever, brands don’t have a choice but to make a commitment toward authentic sustainable business practices. Brands that incorporate a social mission are reaping the benefits, and those that aren’t are paying for it. For every $1 spent on corporate philanthropy $6 in revenue is produced, and for every employee involved in a corporate community involvement program, $2400 in value is generated for the supporting organization in the form of decreased turnover and increased performance.

We too have recognized these trends and are helping purpose driven companies accelerate their impact every day.