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CSR Trends and Buzzwords – Your Responses

August 15, 2011

My first two postings on CSR Now! generated a significant number of emails from readers.

5 Trends to Watch in CSR
Comments ranged from "it's spot on" to "very cool" to "I agree with your trends, in particular the movement toward greater integration."

One reader wrote:

"I'm bowled over by your blog – especially after the huge sell-off – restores faith in capitalism when one reads about what American Express and others are doing. Frankly, I had no idea."

Does a New CSR Buzzword Smell as Sweet?
Most comments agreed with my assessment that we have too many buzzwords in CSR.

One reader commented:

"Buzzwords definitely seem to be on the rise in every aspect of philanthropy as are in my opinion, "buzz" causes, the funding priority of the moment. Basic needs, basic services, and simple words are probably more what is needed these days."

Another reader wrote:

"I just read your CSR blog – perfect. I thought I was either just the old grumpy person in the room, or was missing something entirely when I keep hearing people throw around all these terms, for processes that have essentially been done for the last 20 years. I keep thinking that someone is going to make a quantum leap forward and change the whole manner of philanthropy, but by and large it seems the same. Not that this is bad, just that it's not necessarily new. The one change we have seen over the years is the value of measurement of philanthropy – the whole bang for the buck idea. I can understand where this comes from (although it seems to be a very American conversation – Europeans aren't as engaged in this it seems), although it reduces philanthropy to a rational numbers game, something that it can never be."

And, my favorite:

"Touché! I don't think most people truly know what "sustainability" really means. Your piece reminds me of a Jerry Seinfeld bit where he talks about everybody who now says "you have to hydrate," "you have to keep hydrated," etc. What happened to just saying "you need to drink more water?"

But, Margaret Coady, Director of the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy, wrote to explain how "sustainable value creation" differs from "philanthropy" and "corporate social responsibility":

"To summarize CECP's recent blog post covering what CECP and Accenture find exciting (and new) about "Sustainable Value Creation," the strategy is different from traditional CSR because CSR often focuses on issues within the immediate reach of a company or its supply chain (carbon footprint, employee wellness, stewardship of resources used by the firm). By contrast, strategic philanthropy often targets fundamental societal issues (poverty, illiteracy, and access to services) -- which we define at the heart of "Sustainable Value Creation" -- but strategic philanthropy programs don't drive the core business model and operations of the company (whereas "Sustainable Value Creation" does). We encourage those interested to read the report "Business at its Best: Driving Sustainable Value Creation." In it, we define the concept and distinguish it from these other crucial corporate initiatives, and provide five actionable imperatives for mobilizing a company around the strategy. The report further highlights how lessons learned from strategic philanthropy and CSR (which will always be crucial) will be essential in closing the gap between the vision of "Sustainable Value Creation" and its realization, and thus the insight of industry leaders, like Tim, will be the key to unlocking the strategy's full potential."

Let me know what you think.

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