There is no question as to the growth of cause-branding, social entrepreneurship and Corporate Citizenship (I prefer this to Corporate Social Responsibility) but what is in question is the influence that these social impact initiatives will have on the traditional non-profit organizations and philanthropic ideals.
A recent article in The Atlantic titled Is For-Profit the Future of Non-Profit? presents some thought provoking perspectives from respected leaders in the camps of “pure” philanthropy right through what some people call “consumption” philanthropy. While some valid and insightful positions are taken I can’t see this as an either/or proposition and while none of us have that crystal ball I think that there is a place and need for all manners of impacting social outcomes. Yes, I firmly believe that there will be some adjustments to methods and practices but in reality, are not all of us who wish to influence social impact looking for improved outcomes? While we may not all be on the same page are we not in the same chapter or book or at least in the same section of the library?
I firmly believe that pure philanthropy is a critical component of a giving culture, that humanitarian organizations serve a vital role in society and that there is absolutely a need for Corporate Citizenship. There is a role for a non-profit business community but I also believe that not all non-profits provide the best possible solution to social problems and taking it even further, many should not be non-profits at all (a topic for another time)!
Yes, I am in the Corporate Citizenship camp and am passionate about instilling a “giving back” culture in for-profit entities but I also believe that we (for-profit, non-profit, cause brands, philanthropists, impact investors, …) could do a better job of joining forces and with our respective competencies and passion, have a greater impact on outcomes. After all, are not outcomes what are really important?