In the last decade, corporate responsibility (CR) has become a buzzword in offices and boardrooms across the country, and rightly so. As modern workplace trends skew toward socially and environmentally conscious employees and consumers, businesses need to incorporate CR to be competitive. That’s led to over 92 percent of the world’s 250 biggest companies publishing corporate responsibility reports; up from 64 percent as recently as 2005.¹
The change is driven by employees and customers asking for more from corporate giving programs. As their demands evolve, so does corporate responsibility and the software used to facilitate it.
In this article, we’ll look at some of these changing market demands. We’ll also dive into the conclusion that more and more companies are making – that traditional corporate responsibility software is no longer be enough to get results.
Modern platforms and services have to change to help companies adapt their programs to meet additional demands. Not only that, but the market is expanding. Corporate responsibility is no longer just a Fortune 100 game, small and medium businesses need to enact programs as well, and workplace giving software is expanding to make that possible.
Traditional Corporate Responsibility Software
Traditional corporate responsibility software focuses on business-level donations. Employees contribute to causes chosen and approved by management, either via private foundations or other internal corporate philanthropy vehicles.
The main problem with this kind of software is that it requires a tremendous amount of administrative work. Private foundations require independent boards, a high degree of funding, and full-time administration. Other in-house corporate giving programs require staff to manually check charities for 501(c)(3) status, stay on top of individual employee contributions, and handle paperwork, amongst other process requirements.
Another problem is that traditional corporate responsibility software minimizes employee engagement. , The emphasis is on company ownership of corporate giving, with employees dealing with lengthy and frustrating processes to participate.
At a time when 75 percent of all employees want to be actively involved with CR, this is less than optimal. In fact, multiple market forces point to a growing need for a new kind of service that involves employees more.
Further, the majority of traditional and even current corporate responsibility software options focus on big business. Many players in the space price out small and medium sized businesses, making it difficult for these companies to compete in a world where CR is becoming an increasingly critical differentiator. They leave a major portion of the market unserved.
Today’s Driving Market Forces
As of 2016, 51 percent of employees won’t work for a company that isn’t socially and environmentally responsible.² And, based on the trends we’ve seen, we expect that number has increased over the last few years.
Perhaps more importantly, however, is the fact that these employees want to be hands-on with their employer’s corporate responsibility efforts. They don’t want to just watch their companies donate to charity, employees want to actively participate and take control of their individual giving, interacting with corporate programs like matching gifts to increase their impact. For that reason, it’s essential for modern corporate responsibility software to provide flexible choices that empower employees instead of limiting them to company-wide initiatives.
It’s also important for companies to project their corporate responsibility initiatives into the marketplace to compete for customers. Sixty-nine percent of buyers between the ages of 18 and 34 are now belief-driven, to the point that nearly two in three won’t buy from a brand that stayed silent on an important issue. That number is relatively consistent for 35-54 year olds, with 67 percent acting as belief-driven buyers. For ages 55 and up, 56 percent are belief-driven purchasers.³
Those numbers increased year-over-year from 2017 to 2018, making it likely we’ll continue to see an upward trend in belief-driven consumers in 2019.
That means the majority of companies’ two main audiences – employees and consumers – are now focused on CR and workplace giving not just as a differentiator, but as a baseline requirement to be a viable option. Creating CR programs that play to these evolving customer and employee needs is critical for business performance.
The evidence that society is shifting toward social and environmental responsibility has been evident for years – it’s a large part of what brought big businesses into the corporate philanthropy game. But ten years ago, the market forces we’re discussing were nowhere near as significant as they are today. In response, corporate responsibility software didn’t need to be as employee and consumer friendly. It was built for minimum functionality, not necessarily for market impact or ROI. The strength of today’s market forces are changing that.
The Evolution of Modern CR Software
Today’s top corporate responsibility platforms are both similar and different to traditional ones. They still maintain the core components of traditional software, most notably company control of assets and programs. But they respond to market forces by adding features and capabilities that change the focus from the corporate sponsor to the market. They empower employees, streamline processes, reduce administration, and maximize results.
For example, a modern corporate philanthropy platform lets employees choose their charities from an approved list of 501(c)(3) charities that reduces legal risk while facilitating donations. It also includes social giving tools that help employees get friends, family, and partner organizations involved. Not only do social giving tools help extend your brand’s influence and raise additional funds, they also give employees the ability to take charge of their personal giving strategy to amplify their impact.
At the same time, modern corporate responsibility software is incorporating tools to help ease the burden on administration by automating operations, simplifying employee matching gift processes, and ensuring compliance. They’re also building in more comprehensive reporting to help determine ROI and project your impact so you can determine how effective your program is.
The Breadth of Corporate Responsibility Software is Increasing
All the changes in corporate responsibility software are significant, but the most notable shift for the majority of companies is the breadth of today’s options. In the past, platforms focused on big businesses. Today, platforms are shifting to enable medium and even small businesses to start workplace giving programs that help them compete for talented employees and consumer dollars.
For those businesses that may have been priced out of the market in the past, now is a good time to reevaluate options. Look for flexible software solutions that can augment any current programs you have in place or provide a complete solution to help you get started. The earlier companies get in the game, the better positioned they’ll be to compete.
Expect future updates as the market continues to evolve and new technology and CR platform models (such as those built on Donor Advised Funds (DAFs)) continue to enable additional functionality.
For more information on how corporate responsibility is evolving, see How Corporate Responsibility Will Affect Your Business Success in 2019.