Welcome, I’m Brian Kurth with Revere Skills-based Software, and this is 3 Tips in 3 Minutes for CSR Leaders. With me today is Shanda Vangas of Fourth Wave Strategies Consulting.
Aloha. Happy to be here.
Explain that, aloha!
I live in Maui, Hawaii, where Fourth Wave Strategies is based, too. Fourth Wave Strategies, LLC is a social impact consulting firm. I work with corporations, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations.
We’ve had a great time working with B:Civic, serving on committees in Denver, where you used to live. What are your three tips for us today?
Tip #1: Clarify the overarching priorities for your social impact efforts.
This sounds basic, but you’d be surprised how often companies don’t clarify the priorities and expectations for their social impact programs. Then different internal leaders may have competing priorities, nothing gets decided, and people don’t know what they’re trying to achieve.
Once you have clarity, it becomes a filter to help decide the direction of your social impact programs. Every opportunity that comes your way is looked at through your focus area lens.
Focus areas typically include social impact, brand and reputation, and talent. So, analyze each option to see how it meets the priorities and best fits your resources.
Tip #2: Collaborate across business lines and functions to determine where to focus.
Overarching priorities are just the first step in providing focus. You have to work across the business—different functions and business lines, to understand how these priorities relate to them.
For instance, marketing the brand and reputation is a broad area. Understanding how CSR will strengthen your brand can’t happen unless you talk to your marketing colleagues. They may have a different focus related to a specific target audience.
Another example is employee recruitment, retention, and engagement, a priority area where employee volunteerism has an impact. But that’s broad. Social impact pros need to dig deeper with HR to learn their priorities. Then, we can work together and be a good partner.
I could not agree more. I’ve felt the pain of some of our clients in that regard. When people stay in silos, they can miss the critical value of marketing in CSR, not just PR.
In the last few years, I’ve realized how valuable it is to work deeply with HR. And that segues into my final tip.
Tip #3: Apply the same level of rigor to your volunteer programs as you do to your charitable giving.
Most companies, whether grant-making, sponsorships, or donations, have metrics and specific standards to measure and report impact. But they don’t always do the same with their volunteer activities.
Volunteering programs can have as much or more impact as financial investments if done well. But we must work with community partners to achieve specific outcomes and goals. How will these volunteer activities drive leadership, diversity, inclusion, and belonging? How does it relate to your brand and reputation? It’s not enough to say, “Oh, people will love it. It will be fun.”
Ask yourself if you’re leveraging volunteer activities to have the most significant impact in the same way you analyze your dollar spending.
CFOs need to know how these things feed into the bottom line and ESG if they are going to be comfortable with volunteer activities.
I agree. Historically, companies have not applied the same rigorous standards to volunteer activity as giving. It’s more than the quantity of activity; it’s about quality.
We’ve gone over our three minutes because I get excited about these things. How can people reach out to you, Shanda?
I love to connect with people wherever they are. It’s easiest to get in touch through LinkedIn.
Thank you so much for being part of 3 Tips in 3 Minutes for CSR Leaders.
Shanda Vangas, Founder & Principal
For more than 25 years, Shanda has worked with corporations, public agencies and nonprofit organizations to tackle some of our most critical social issues. Having served as an in-house CSR leader in corporations, a nonprofit fundraising and marketing executive, and an educator on CSR and nonprofit management best practices, Shanda brings a unique perspective to social impact that is authentic, inclusive, collaborative and results-oriented.
Connect with Shanda on LinkedIn.