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Robert Goodwin

Robert Goodwin

Robert J. Goodwin is CEO and co-founder of Executives Without Borders; former deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force and appointee at USAID, the State Department and the White House.

Adopt a Nonprofit

Business leaders and companies doing well have an opportunity to do even better: They can bring their valuable resources and experience to nonprofits that are addressing critical human needs and problems.

This has become more important than ever. Why? Because taxpayer-funded bailouts are adding additional scrutiny and accountability and are requiring businesses to identify new ways to give back.

But this giving back cannot be about philanthropy alone. Their contributions ultimately should be linked to their core business strategy to drive future profitability and sustainability -- and to provide long-term engagement with those causes needing their support.

Major companies have much to give--including money, talent and influence--to make the world a better place. Unfortunately, these resources are often misdirected or not structured well to achieve results. It may be a nice team-building effort to have a bunch of professionals paint a school or build a home, but a greater impact can be had if the companies find ways to leverage what those professionals do best on a daily basis.

Here's an example. Recently, UPS allowed their drivers with top safety records to teach high school driver's education courses. The UPS drivers are finding ways to keep our children and roads safer. They also are finding volunteering more rewarding because it leverages what they have learned in 20 years on the job.

What if each major corporation "adopted" a nonprofit, leveraging its IT, logistics and marketing talent to serve a worthy cause? Wouldn't those corporate employees benefit from the experience and wouldn't we see better nonprofit outcomes?

Those in the finance world have much-needed talents that could help nonprofits, local governments and other organizations develop better cash flow statements, revenue models and new ways to leverage their existing resources. Companies, especially those that are most profitable, should set aside a certain amount of their profits and staff time and find ways to give back. But it should be seen as an investment and tied to a long-term human capital strategy and a marketing strategy to enhance the reputation of their brand.

Companies that integrate altruistic activities into their core business model will have the competitive advantage that comes with delivering a social profit: They will retain employees, recruit top talent, and build better community relations and a stronger brand. When those responsible companies succeed, philanthropy and corporate social responsibility will become just good business.

By Robert Goodwin

 |  July 21, 2009; 11:03 AM ET
Category:  Economic crisis Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: The Teachable Moment that Wasn't | Next: The Talented Mr. Blankfein


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It is a good idea, hopefully not a pipe dream and hopefully more companies will find a cause that they can connect with in a meaningful way. Companies and supporters alike can also make the simple act of searching the Internet a charitable one. Wounded Warrior Project is getting support this way with Yahoo search http://www.freelanthropy.com/search/wwp and virtually any other nonprofit can, too.

Posted by: Concerned43 | July 22, 2009 4:07 PM
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What a great idea! Would love to see a way that the lesser-known nonprofits, small nonprofits doing big things, benefit -- some system for identifying IT, marketing, logistics needs of nonprofits and matching to corporate resources -- to leverage results, prevent duplication, and advance the important work of nonprofis -- would make an enormous contribution, both within the US but also globally. Perhaps an advisory group could be put together to explore ways to implement this? A group comprised of both business and nonprofits, large and small, US and international. Lorraine Kleinwaks, Book Wish Foundation, www.bookwish.org

Posted by: lorraine3 | July 22, 2009 4:00 PM
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I think that is a wonderful idea. International Aid lost a valuable asset when you left.

Posted by: fishl | July 21, 2009 9:38 PM
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