Civil Society plays an increasingly important role in international human and social welfare. The most important prerequisite for the development of the NGO sector is a steady level of trust and engagement from society. This public trust and engagement is based the organization’s level of accountability.
Charity Star is an independent nonprofit organization working to establish an international standard for NGO accountability. We believe in an open society where access to information is key in building trust and engagement.
Our work includes research and advocacy within the field of NGO governance.
The top issue, according to a study published by Forbes Insights, entitled “Corporate Philanthropy: The New Paradigm: Volunteerism. Competence. Results,” is social services. Forty-five percent of companies address social services in their corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts. At number two: environmental causes (44% of companies). Community development came in third with 40% support. These are followed by health services and economic development.
It’s not surprising that CEOs and other decision makers would want to promote these issues. The skeptics can say that this is self-serving and benefits business. On the other hand, it’s logical that corporate decision makers would be more interested and emotionally invested in business-related causes. Moreover, for those who question the motivation behind corporate philanthropy, it is telling that there is a clear breakdown in which causes are most supported.
Clearly, business leaders are aware of the importance of climate change and how it might affect the economy. Though many politicize the issue and consider it controversial, the fact that it is so widely recognized in CSR indicates that environmentalist causes are not considered hindrances to business development. In the Forbes Insights report, Conservation International’s Andy Wilson says companies are grasping the magnitude of the environmental issues. “We are living on a planet where the population is going to grow to 9.2 billion, and it is going to double the amount of food and energy we need. Figuring out how to promote economic growth and job creation and preserve the natural capital to generate food and water is a really critical issue, and many companies are rising to that challenge.”
Currently the three least supported causes are fostering entrepreneurship, the military and their families, and religion. By 2014 entrepreneurship is expected to become more important, with arts and culture sliding down the list—it makes intuitive sense that business leaders might be sympathetic to promoting entrepreneurship. It is unfortunate that these causes are not as well supported in corporate philanthropy but not surprising. Military families, religion and the arts all have a more limited scope than something as wide-ranging as the environment or general social services. In addition, while causes supporting the military might be encouraged and supported by many Americans, they may not help these international corporations in their image abroad. For broad international initiatives, the military could be seen as controversial. And religion can easily become controversial in any arena, even local ones.
We also asked where companies planned to focus their efforts in the next three years, and the results were very similar to the present list of supported causes. However, the promotion of entrepreneurship (27% of companies) is likely to be supported more in the future. Currently, two out of 10 companies say that they support entrepreneurship, but in 2014 that number increases to three in 10. With a lagging economy, more companies are trying to figure out ways to become job creators in the future. One company highlighted in the Forbes Insights study is MasterCard, which engages in entrepreneurial and economic empowerment initiatives around the world. MasterCard works with local partners to encourage training and entrepreneurship for women in the Philippines and China, and entrepreneurship for youths in India.
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