CFOs: the Unsung Heroes of Social Impact

When I began GivingSpring in 2013, I daydreamed of the day that Corporate Social Responsibility would be so easily proven that I'd be able to convince even the most skeptical CFO that investing in a community engagement strategy made sense.  Eventually, between the creation of my  Bottom Line Benefit Calculator, and drives of social responsibility data, the conversations became less of a  'leap of faith' and more of an obvious choice.  

Now, every week we see that the CFOs are leading the conversation of development, implementation and  evaluation of community engagement / social responsibility initiatives.  Quotes like this: "Now is the time for the financial services industry to step off the sidelines and take a stand,” and recent activism from Blackrock are just the tip of the iceberg

It's happening at both the national and local level.  For privately held organizaitons, the CFO is also the one justifying community engagement initiatives.  People are often surprised, but the fiduciary responsibility CFOs hold to the overall organization  allows these individuals to ask difficult questions about corporate philanthropy in a way other c-suite leaders cannot.  

Some of the questions my clients often ask include:

  • "Is our money best spent in this way?"
  • "How do we know our program is getting results?"
  • "Are we building the program our employees desire?"
  • "How do we make sure our program is in alignment with our values and organizational strategy?"

These questions are not for the faint of heart - but It's these questions that are going to require the rest of us in the CSR space to provide measurements, demonstrate impact and justify the value of community investment.    

We should make sure we have good answers.