As the Council on Foundations plans for 2012, we’re looking for opportunities to partner with others to find effective ways to address the profound social and environmental challenges we all face. In addition, the Corporate Committee has been discussing  the changing role of philanthropy  as part of Corporate Philanthropy 2012 . Here are some of the highlights so far:
We are looking for ways to leverage all of our companies’ assets. Beyond the traditional tools of philanthropy and community involvement-cash, in-kind donations, and volunteers-we’re talking to supply chain and purchasing managers about environmental and social impacts of business decisions that they make every day. The journey builds on companies’ experience, from “doing good things” to “making an impact” to “being accountable” for all of the impacts that the business has on the communities it serves.
Assuming the role of change agent. Accountability and transparency in corporate philanthropy isn’t new, of course, but corporate philanthropy leaders convening the discussion is. Colleagues who are having success with this approach are engaging middle managers in the company, where the bulk of business decisions are made. When they speak in business terms, it fosters ideas about potential alignment and collaboration.
Taking a systems approach. Change is driven by multiple factors that are intricately linked, and philanthropy is just one component. For example, corporate philanthropy leaders can explore, with human resources department colleagues, ways to engage around jobs and the economy. Internationally, there are opportunities for conversations with governments about job creation in partnership with multilateral companies. In the United States, the National Fund for Workforce Solutions  and the Workforce Matters affinity groups are both excellent resources for data and leadership examples that emphasize taking a systems approach to programming.
How do these points resonate with you? How can the Council help you? The discussion is just beginning. We look forward to your continuing participation.
Dinah Dittman is national director of community engagement and philanthropy at Kaiser Permanente, a member of the Council on Foundations.