Coro’s Blog: On Purpose

A Way Forward to Creating Social Impact

Published on November 18, 2016

Now, more than ever, we need business leadership on the social issues of our time.

Businesses are starting to see the opportunity to build their social commitment into everything they do, thereby creating a stronger value proposition for themselves and their communities. And who better to help business evolve their philanthropy strategies than the United Way?

The United Way serving Greater Vancouver is investing in measures to move past the traditional, once-a-year checkbook philanthropy model of fund-raising to mobilize business to take the lead on social issues. The organization sees the potential of enrolling their 700-plus corporate donors to advance along the Social Purpose Continuum, generating greater social impact and fostering long-term viability for their business partners and collective operating environment.

Imagine a city where businesses advance social impact throughout their entire operation. Companies buy social, hire social, design social, manufacture social, sell social, invest social, merge and acquire social, advocate social, engage social and influence social policy change for all. This is the United Way’s bold vision and I am delighted to help them with research, tools, training and thought leadership.

The United Way of the Lower Mainland (UWLM) recently held their inaugural Social Leadership Workshop. Twenty-five of their donor companies participated in this first bold effort towards engaging with the United Way’s workplace partners to impact social issues in an innovative way. It was a tremendous success and the participants expressed enthusiasm for doing more together and with other businesses.

Some of the ideas they would like to pursue include:

  • Engage with communities, local businesses, municipalities and others in social purpose – to impact social issues and create stronger communities together;
  • Involve other departments (for example, Human Resources, Procurement, Product Development, Strategy, Marketing) in social purpose development;
  • Develop the business case and advance strategies to move their company up the Corporate Social Purpose continuum;
  • Create an employee and consumer movement around a social purpose.
A Way Forward to Creating Social Impact

The United Way of the Lower Mainland is keen to turn its first workshop into a learning series or possibly a training institute to take more companies down this socially and financially profitable path. They are also offering to help businesses in Greater Vancouver:

  • Understand the social issues that affect their community and their business, to discover and be a part of new solutions.
  • Identify the best match between a company’s brand, assets and resources and a social purpose that would resonate best for them in a competitive landscape.
  • Connect what companies have to offer with issues and agencies in the community.

Check out this BC Business article and the United Way’s social purpose micro-site to read more about the initiative – and to get excited about a future where business lives up to its social potential.

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