Monthly Archives: July 2009

Top 4 International Insights for Fortune 500 Companies

For Fortune 500 companies wanting to make a difference in global CSR, here are some tips on what to watch out for.  Congratulations on serving our global community. Your efforts will enhance your brand and employee commitment, while also serving nonprofits on the ground who deliver critical services in education, health, the environment and more.    Best wishes as your company makes its unique, global impact.

I. “SEAMLESS STRATEGIC COMMUNITY RELATIONS PLANNING”

“Seamless Strategic Planning” for your international corporate community relations indicates that the domestic and international are tied to overall corporate strategic objectives. If your company doesn’t have a Strategic Plan and U.S.-based Community Relations Plan – those are the areas to start. Make sure these two plans are wedded and practiced; lessons learned on the domestic scene can be applied to the international arena. Once these two areas are established, international community relations is a natural, albeit at times complex, expansion of planning.

II. “THE NGO NUANCE”

Finding the right “NGO Nuance” and NGO Partner can take time – and it is not solely related to a common area of interest such as supporting education or the arts. Finding the NGO Nuance takes it one step further, by identifying “on-the ground” partners, and, the right cultural synergy between the company and a particular NGO. These steps help ensure an effective working relationship.

Successful companies ensure that their community relations objectives incorporate the following areas: the greatest needs within the local community where the company is operating; how these needs fit their corporate objectives, both domestically and internationally; and the input of both U.S. and local, country-based employees. In addition, identifying “on-the-ground” NGOs partners provides community buy-in, and by working with an already established partner, more rapid and scaled results for the company. Alternatively, by not working with these partners, companies may cause damage in their efforts to establish long-term relationships. Finally, before agreeing to a partnership, the company spends time with the NGO – exploring the “NGO Nuance” – to make sure there is a synergy and potential for a positive relationship.

Key areas to note are “hot spot” issues. “Hot spot issues” are issues critical to the community. Addressing these issues can win companies great favor and community standing. However, if these issues are volatile or cause community strife, they are often best times left for the local government to address. If your company is planning to stay in the community for decades, then such a commitment necessitates establishing long-term relationships with local governments and politicos. Through a multi-partner approach, these “hot spot” issues can be addressed.

III. “COMMUNICATION AS A CORE PRINCIPLE”

The companies which maintain effective community relations practices and long-term relationships are the ones who commit to “Communications as a Core Principle” of their efforts. Communications must be frequent, multi-level, and multi-partner inclusive. In addition, Communications Plans must take into account the following areas international media outlets; cultural factors; and perceptions which may arise. The type and tone of communications which are readily accepted within the United States, are not always well-received outside of the U.S. Ensure that your Communications Team has the skills and experts to determine the right messaging and positioning applicable to each, unique local international effort.

IV. CREATIVE TRUST

Communication as a Core Principle allows you to set the groundwork for establishing long-term relationships. And that’s “Creative Trust.” “Creative Trust” is built over time through frequent communications and actual execution with excellence. It’s in your company’s Speaking and Living. The message – what your company “speaks”– and in the practice, of how your company “lives” on the ground. A critical point in Creative Trust is it not only your company’s formal communications and events – but also the action of every person and employee who represents your company – and the Company’s Creative Trust – in the day-to-day life of the community.

Social Actions and UniversalGiving Partner

I’m excited to announce that UniversalGiving recently began partnering with Social Actions.  Social Actions is a site designed to help people find ways to make a difference, in whatever way is right for them.  You can search by topic and by action type, to find the perfect way to help the cause you care about.  That could mean signing a petition about green energy or volunteering with children in Africa.  UniversalGiving is very pleased to join Social Actions’ 50+ action sources, so that we can provide our quality giving and volunteering opportunities through Social Actions.

UniversalGiving has also joined the Social Actions community, and we look forward to connecting with even more people interested in taking action to bring about social change.  Ultimately it’s about the connections: about connecting to people we can work together with, and about connecting with the people we want to serve.  Whether it’s the blogger in New York who helps us spread the word, or the girl in Nepal who goes to school because of a generous donation, it’s so important to form, value, and acknowledge those human connections.

There are so many different ways to give.  It’s inspiring to see thousands of these ways brought together in one place, in the hopes that all the people who want to give will be able to find the perfect way for each of them.

Social Innovation: A White House Perspective

Full Circle Fund recently hosted a great Social Innovation Fund talk featuring members of the White House, who were former Full Circle Fund members.  I attended “Social Innovation: A White House Perspective” as the chair of the Global Economic Opportunity Circle, and was pleased to report that we are focusing on self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship locally and internationally, and look to make our first grants this September.  The event was streamed live, and can still be viewed on the internet.  Come experience a bit of President Obama’s Social Innovation plans for the future.

Watch Your Money, Watch Your Time

It’s a time for focus, and that’s a good thing. This tough economy is not only making business owners watchful of every penny, but also of every moment.

 Watch Your Time

Watch where your time goes. This is especially true regarding people. Work with and develop the people who will sincerely help your business the most, and grow them. Work with clients who genuinely care about growing their business for the right reasons. And if you haven’t started a partnership yet, take a strong look at how you are evaluating them. Why is this the best partnership for you? It should be one of your top. That may not be in brand, necessarily. It might be that they have the right values, the same strategic direction, and the budget to make it happen.

Look at Your Values

Really paying attention to the values of any person, be it employee, intern, volunteer, client, potential partner, will put you in good stead for the longterm. Try to find that match that inherently feels good, and is not just a tactical calculation that the client ‘seems’ to be the best partner. You should feel comfortable with them and their goals, and want to grow with them. During tough economic times an during positives ones, they will stick with you, and you with them. You will make it through any time, together, and be stronger, more effective, and more sincere about your work.

Spending your time with people who have the right values and direction will keep your business focused and productive, and give you peace of mind for the longterm. You will build yourself and your enterprise bit by bit, with an enduring foundation and lasting product.

For us at UniversalGiving we are in the business of matching up people with global organizations. We help people give of their money and volunteer time in more than 70 countries across the world. Even though giving is down, we still invest in qualifying and vetting our nonprofit partners, providing a service of excellence. Person by person, we are making worldwide connections that make a difference in improving people’s lives, increasing understanding, and creating world peace. Every connection counts, and builds our service step by step by step.

We’re willing to run the marathon. We just want to run with the right people on the right team, and create the best product that will help this world by helping others.