News

Arts and business news from around the country.

RSS

The Business of Business is Volunteering

Posted by Richard Crespin
0 Comments

When Capital One bought ING Direct last year in the first big bank acquisition since Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Act, the deal was subject to a high level of scrutiny. While regulators poured over the facts and figures, what they really wanted to know was could Capital One be trusted?

 

“We had hearings with the [Federal Reserve] in three different cities. Numerous nonprofits testified on our behalf about our corporate character,” said Carolyn Berkowitz, Managing Vice President for Capital One Bank and President of the Capital One Foundation. “They all said, ‘…this is a company that’s going to add to our community, not detract from it…’ That kind of commitment doesn’t come from just writing a check.”

 

Milton Friedman famously said, “the business of business is business.” Corporate responsibility skeptics often ape Friedman, asking how these programs impact the bottom line. But for most publicly traded firms, over 80% of their market value – the real test of shareholder value – lies on the balance sheet in good will and brand. Capital One’s good will, built through skills-based volunteering, added to its brand value and its book value because it helped ensure the purchase of ING Direct.

 

Although Capital One’s skills-based volunteering program is more than ten years old, in 2008 the company expanded and restructured it to make it a cornerstone of their brand. At its founding, Capital One was “a company that was a new idea, knocking down the price of credit. That was a mission unto itself,” said Berkowitz. “For our associates, taking on pro bono is like a new mission. Having the opportunity to use their very honed skills, taking them into the community and back to the company is a reward for our people and has a big impact on our ability to grow.”

 

Capital One joined 365 of America’s largest companies and well-known brands in taking the A Billion + Changepledge to “donate their best talent to tackle tough problems in their communities and around the world.” The pledge inspired the donation of the equivalent of $1.998 billion of volunteer time and the organization wants to get to 500 participating firms by this summer (Source: Billion + Change). But skills-based volunteering isn’t an easy story to tell.

 

On April 22, during a Pro Bono Summit panel organized by A Billion + Change, Deloitte, Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, George Mason University, and Fairfax County, Berkowitz asked, “how can the media help tell this story?” By common wisdom, donors and volunteers respond to pictures of volunteers coming to the aid of suffering people, not “capacity building” – strengthening the infrastructure, operations, and management of nonprofits. According to Berkowitz, “we often find nonprofits aren’t ready for us; don’t speak our language,” and don’t have the structures to make use of volunteer resources. Without that infrastructure, nonprofits can be like water in the dessert: pour on all the resources and they’ll just run off without making an impact.

 

“We’re a visual medium, so a park clean-up is an easy visual,” said NBC4 Washington’s Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey. “But we also love numbers,” so the kinds of statistics that underlie programs like Capital One’s can draw media attention. Yet many businesses still don’t know how they can help nonprofits overcome capacity problems. That must change.

 

Over my next few blogs I’ll explore how Capital One and other companies use programs like the A Billion + Change pledge to drive business value and magnify social impact. Here’s a quick preview of my next post on the business case for using skills-based volunteering to build nonprofit capacity…

 

“We need to totally rethink and resell pro bono,” said Deloitte’s Evan Hochberg, National Director of Community Involvement. “At last year’s Impact Day,” said Hochberg, describing Deloitte’s annual community service day, “I had one executive come up to me [dressed in a suit], and say, ‘This is not Impact Day. I need to be outside in a t-shirt,’” doing something with her hands, not her skills. While her attitude shifted over the course of the day after seeing Deloitte’s skills-based volunteers transform these organizations, her original thinking is the kind that still predominates in many circles.

 

“So far, [skills-based volunteering] has been sold as an employee benefit, not as a deliberate way of having social impact,” said Hochberg. “Our country can’t afford for us to be that cavalier with human capital.”

 

What operational, infrastructure, and management challenges does your nonprofit face? How has your company made a transformative difference for a nonprofit? What undermines these kinds of engagements?

 

(This post, originally published on BCLC.uschamber.com, is one in a weekly series highlighting The pARTnership Movement, Americans for the Arts’ campaign to reach business leaders with the message that partnering with the arts can build their competitive advantage.)

 

*This article was posted on ARTSblog.

Related
Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus

More News

BCA 10 Nominations Now Open!
Dec 10, 2018 0 Comments
Every year, Americans for the Arts through its Business Committee for the Arts, honors the 10 best businesses partnering with the arts in America.   As today’s business landscape continues to shift, companies need talent that...
Go to full post
A Theatre Company in Good Company
Nov 29, 2018 0 Comments
Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company   The Tony Award-winning director founded the eponymous organization in 2002 with a mission “to celebrate the rich tradition of black storytelling while giving voice to bold new artists...
Go to full post
Private Sector Takes a Stand
Nov 15, 2018 0 Comments
Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99;...
Go to full post
2018 BCA 10 Honorees in Forbes Magazine
Nov 02, 2018 0 Comments
This year's BCA 10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts in America honorees were in the September 30 issues of Forbes Magazine.   Read more about this year's honorees: Churchill Downs Fifth Third Bank Fosun International...
Go to full post
What's so important about creativity?
Oct 30, 2018 0 Comments
We might work in the arts field, but our day-to-day work looks like any other business. We stare at Excel charts, spend hours on conference calls, write reports, and try to find the bottom of our never-ending email inboxes. Like...
Go to full post
Business Contributions to the Arts Survey 2018
Oct 10, 2018 0 Comments
Business Contributions to the Arts: 2018 Edition is the second edition published by The Conference Board and Americans for the Arts of the annual study. Conducted in the summer of 2018, the survey garnered 132 responses from...
Go to full post
David Rockefeller pARTnership Award: Square + Cheyenne River Youth Project
Oct 01, 2018 0 Comments
Square and Cheyenne River Youth Project will receive the David Rockefeller pARTnership Award at the BCA 10 Gala on October 2, 2018 in New York City. Click here to learn more about the BCA 10.   "Our hope with the project, “Lakota...
Go to full post
BCA Leadership Award: Chandrika Tandon
Sep 27, 2018 0 Comments
Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99;...
Go to full post
BCA 10 Spotlight: UMB Financial Corporation (Kansas City, MO)
Sep 24, 2018 0 Comments
Americans for the Arts is excited to honor UMB at the BCA 10 Gala on October 2, 2018 in New York City. Click here to learn more about the BCA10.   “It is an honor to be recognized among this group of distinguished and innovative...
Go to full post
BCA 10 Spotlight: West Bend Mutual Insurance Company (West Bend, WI)
Sep 20, 2018 0 Comments
Americans for the Arts is excited to honor West Bend Mutual Insurance at the BCA 10 Gala on October 2, 2018 in New York City. Click here to learn more about the BCA10.   “The arts can have a profound impact on people of all...
Go to full post
BCA 10 Spotlight: Fifth Third Bank (Cincinnati, OH)
Sep 17, 2018 0 Comments
Americans for the Arts is excited to honor Fifth Third Bank at the BCA 10 Gala on October 2, 2018 in New York City. Click here to learn more about the BCA 10.   “Fifth Third Bank is committed to building thriving and vibrant...
Go to full post
BCA 10 Spotlight: Phillips 66 (Houston, TX)
Sep 13, 2018 0 Comments
“As a company committed to improving lives, Phillips 66 is proud to support the arts. Our communities are enriched by the arts, precisely because art touches and changes lives in ways that are positive and profound. It’s one...
Go to full post
Quaver Music Supports Arts Education
Sep 11, 2018 0 Comments
September 9-15 is National Arts in Education Week!   Passed by Congress in 2010, House Resolution 275 designates the week beginning with the second Sunday in September as National Arts in Education Week. During this week, the...
Go to full post
BCA 10 Spotlight: The Standard (Portland, OR)
Sep 10, 2018 0 Comments
Americans for the Arts is excited to honor The Standard at the BCA 10 Gala on October 2, 2018 in New York City. Click here to learn more about the BCA10.   “Fostering an appreciation for the arts helps build a foundation for...
Go to full post

Already a partner?

Already a partner?

Learn easy ways to take your partnership to a new level.

Use our ads locally

Use our ads locally

View The pARTnership Movement ad campaign and find ways to use the ads.

pARTnership videos

pARTnership videos

Watch and share our videos from The pARTnership Movement.

Partnership ideas

Partnership ideas

Inspire employees with tickets to the ballet or a concert.

Are you an arts group?

Are you an arts group?

Get listed in our searchable directory.

Recruit talent

Recruit talent

Employees want to live and work in a vibrant community.