Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business is celebrating its inaugural cohort of MBAs who received their Certificate in Sustainable Business. The school launched this unique certificate program to prepare graduates to address urgent environmental and societal challenges that affect companies’ operations and business models. The MBA program developed this interdisciplinary certificate in collaboration with the school’s Business for Impact initiative and Vishal Agrawal, Provost’s Distinguished Lapeyre Family Associate Professor and academic director of the certificate.

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Once considered radical, Black Lives Matter has gone mainstream. Republican Sen. Mitt Romney recently marched alongside Black, queer, elderly, and millennial allies to protest police brutality and racial injustice. Corporate giants have also joined the cause. Nike, Citi, and Walmart were among the first to hitch their brands to this new wave of antiracist action, joined daily by a growing chorus of business leaders pledging solidarity.

The modern movement for racial justice has been building for years, and it has reached a tipping point with the abhorrent murder of George Floyd and other acts of racial violence toward Black people in America. Black Lives Matter stands at the center of this movement, with a historic opportunity to stop police brutality and advance racial justice. What the movement’s leaders decide to do next will determine whether or not it takes a significant step forward toward changing policy and attitudes about race in this country.

While it’s not entirely clear who is “leading” the movement for Black lives, that doesn’t mean it is leaderless. Black Lives Matter “officials” only rarely appear on cable news or social-media news feeds. The three women who co-founded Black Lives Matter have not occupied center stage during these past weeks of extraordinary protest. To the average person, it might look like no one is “in charge.”

This strategy is intentional. From the start, Black Lives Matter was committed to being a “leaderfull” movement — leading from the grassroots up by allowing victims, survivors, and people with personal experience to speak out and stand at the front of protest marches. This was a smart decision. We know from our research that the most successful modern social movements embrace this leadership approach, understanding that it is both effective and protective. Without a sole charismatic leader, the movement is less vulnerable to attacks such as the tragic assassinations of civil-rights leaders in the 1960s, most notably the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

In addition to being “leaderfull,” Black Lives Matter shares traits with other successful social movements of our time, most notably marriage equality, antismoking efforts, and gun-rights expansion. The movement to advance racial justice and protect Black lives can deploy these same approaches to gain even more traction.

Embrace a ‘10/10/10/20 = 50 States’ Strategy

As the powerful protests against police brutality continue on the streets and in front of TV cameras, Black Lives Matter advocates and their allies are diligently working behind the scenes in decentralized but tightly woven networks to reform government policies at state and local levels. They are advocating, litigating, and negotiating for change in the places where policy and life collide — within each of the 50 states. They also are clearly tailoring their approach for each unique political system and cultural milieu.

Advocates for same-sex marriage focused fiercely on policy reform across the U.S. states,acting on what they dubbed their “10/10/10/20 = 50”vision for change. They adapted strategies for different regions of the country and set achievable goals for each state: Full marriage in 10 states; civil unions in another 10 states; same-sex-relationship recognition laws in 10 more states; and in the remaining 20 states, repeal of discriminatory laws against members of the LGBTQ community. This meant fighting to protect the first same-sex marriage law in Massachusetts and pushing for such a law in New York while advocating in Texas to repeal antisodomy and other discriminatory laws.

LGBTQ advocates ultimately won marriage equality nationwide in 2015 with the landmark Supreme Court ruling Obergefell v. Hodges, but only after decades of activism and advocacy in each U.S. state. Similarly, if Black Lives Matter advocates focus their firepower on state and local policy reform now, while they have the nation’s attention — and empathy — they can generate the momentum needed to eventually achieve nationwide changes. But if, instead, the movement pushes for sweeping federal changes too soon, they could squander this historic opportunity.

Change Social Norms, Not Just Government Policies

In this time of extraordinary racial reckoning, public attitudes toward race and police brutality are rapidly shifting. The latest Civiqs polls show that the number of American voters supporting Black Lives Matter grew from 46 percent to 53 percent following George Floyd’s murder. This attitude shift was triggered by the millions of advocates and allies demonstrating on U.S. streets and worldwide, and likely by the use of police and military force ordered by President Trump and some state and local officials against mostly peaceful protesters.

Pop culture has also influenced attitudes about race at a more accelerated clip in recent years. TV series like Blackish, movies such as The Hate You Give, documentaries like 13th, and books such as The New Jim Crow have worked their way into the conscience of a growing number of Americans. But pop culture alone cannot change social norms about race or reverse the racist attitudes of people who commit violent and hateful acts toward Black people — and who aren’t watching these films or reading those books. Racists subscribe to a separate canon of content that informs and reinforces white supremacist, xenophobic, populist, and other views.

Racism is a social norm, a cultural attitude, a personal opinion. It cannot be legislated or regulated. But it can be changed. Dismantling deeply rooted social and cultural norms is more challenging than changing laws or regulations. But it is possible, as the fight for marriage equality powerfully demonstrates.

In that movement, reformers deliberately set out to first understand where most people in America stood on same-sex marriage. National polls in the 2000s showed that although a handful of respondents were adamantly opposed to gay marriage, whether for ideological, religious, or other reasons, the vast majority did not have a strong opinion. They weren’t for it or against it. Many said they didn’t understand why gay people wanted to marry. So the Freedom to Marry campaign and its allies set out to convince this silent, if confused, majority of “persuadable” people to support their cause.

They deftly deployed social-norm-change campaigns centered on love. Social-media ads showed a lesbian couple raising a son in Massachusetts who was an ice-hockey state champion. Another profiled a straight uncle “coming around” to the idea of his nephew marrying his partner. The idea was to normalize the idea of same-sex partnerships and marriage.

Focusing on “love” was a departure from previous LGBTQ campaigns, which centered more on defending rights and protesting discrimination. Similarly, now that Black Lives Matter has earned the empathy of a majority of people in America, they can attract more allies to the racial-justice cause and turn that support into action in statehouses and at the voting booth.

Break From Business as Usual

Whether by choice or by default, companies today are becoming more involved with social movements, with seemingly every corporate CEO now speaking out against racism. This isn’t necessarily new, but it can make a difference in shaping cultural norms and attitudes — even when some of these efforts fall flat.

In 2015, following a racist incident at a Starbucks in Philadelphia, the company’s CEO, Howard Shultz, deputized his army of baristas to talk about race.  The campaign was quickly snuffed by the backlash to this ill-advised (if well-intentioned) idea. But it also put race squarely in front of the consumer, pushing the sensitive issue into more public view.

Long before Starbucks tried to strike up casual conversations about race over a cup of coffee, another leading brand broke ground on this issue in the 1990s. Timberland mounted the novel “Give Racism the Boot” campaign, running print magazine ads and tagging jackets in its stores with mini-booklets designed to raise customer awareness and discussion. The campaign content was designed in partnership with City Year, a national service organization with a long history of partnership with the company.

These approaches demonstrate how business can be a vector for change, not just a donor to causes or a target of activist ire. Companies play roles in social movements that are much more complex and far-reaching than self-promotional advertisements or corporate statements promising racial solidarity. Corporate leaders who want to demonstrate support with Black Lives Matter can start by reforming internal policies on hiring, retention, promotion, and pay equity, and reviewing their supply chain through a lens of diversity and inclusion, among other ways to take meaningful action against racism.

How Change Will Happen

Black Lives Matter and its allies are crossing a Rubicon in this moment of racial reckoning. What they do next can determine not just how Black people are policed, but how they are fundamentally viewed and treated by all institutions of society. Beyond protest and policy change, they can deploy success strategies of other 21st-century social movements to further bend the arc of history closer toward racial justice and lasting systemic change.

Leslie Crutchfield is the author of “How Change Happens: Why Some Social Movements Succeed While Others Don’t.” She teaches corporate social responsibility and nonprofit leadership at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, where she serves as executive director of Business for Impact.

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Bernard Boudreaux – Virtual Fundraising During COVID-19 is Boudreaux’s take on how to raise money during these new and uncertain times. Here’s what Bernard has to share:

“Necessity is the mother of invention” is an expression that has inspired many a business strategy, and nonprofits have lived by this mantra for decades.

In 1988, a major fire caused major damage to the Los Angeles Central Library. They decided to forego their traditional gala and tested a new fundraiser Stay Home & Read a Book Ball”. The event was a huge success, and continues 30 years later. This past year, the “anti-gala/introvert’s ball” raised nearly $140,000 from over 400 donors (half of those donors were NOT current members). The “gala” did not require catering, location expenses or prep, gift bags, weather back-up plans, or auction items, while marketing was executed via social media and email.

As nonprofits across the USA strategize how to maintain their revenue streams in the time of the corona virus, many are faced with the reality that their in-person fundraising events (lunches, dinners, golf outings, runs, walks, dances, etc.) are not feasible. Revenue from a “successful” fundraiser event can raise anywhere from 10% – 70% of a nonprofit’s unrestricted annual revenue. Combine a cancelled fundraiser with dramatic decreased (or zero) revenue due to cancelled performances, reduced earned revenue and decreased contributions and nonprofits have a recipe for long-term financial disaster.

Enter COVID-19, and nonprofit leaders are much less focused on highlighting their brand, but laser focused on raising revenue to cover expenses and overhead.

We spoke with three nonprofit organizations that quickly converted their planned Spring 2020 live event to a virtual event in response to the corona virus crisis. All three organizations enlisted support from companies that specialize in online events and/or fundraising for their virtual event.

Regional arts organization Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s “OVATION

What: Gala dinner for 400, held at San Francisco’s Ritz Carlton hotel and represents nearly 15% of annual contributed revenue. Tickets range from $750 per ticket to $25,000 for tables. A live auction, paddle raise to “fund a need” and luxe gift bags were components of past OVATION events, along with an honoree.

This year’s event: Converted to a 60-minute virtual event, featuring a livestream conversation with playwright and actor Anna Deavere Smith, music by Bay Area composer and bass player Marcus Shelby. They scrapped the live auction, paddle raise and gift bags and their technical staff partnered with their event producer to produce the virtual gala. Their board and fundraising committees were actively engaged in fundraising (the board and various fundraising “teams” raised 35% of total event revenue). A donation of any amount counted toward the fundraising goal and provided the donor access to the livestream. “OVATION” raised $946,000, exceeding the goal and was viewed by an estimated 700 people – far more than would have participated in a live event.

Lessons learned: Berkeley Rep’s Director of Development Lynn Eve Komaromi said, “We pivoted from live to virtual with very short notice and in response to a crisis. While we are very pleased with the results, we would do some things differently if we do a virtual fundraising event in the future.”

Profession theatre company Childsplay’s World of Wonder

What: The gala is their largest fundraiser, a 400 guest dinner that earns ~15% of their annual contributed revenue.

This year’s event: Pivoted from a live one-night dinner event to a 10-day online event with just three weeks notice. The virtual event featured a daily online medley of family-friendly entertainment and included silent auction items, a raffle, and alcohol sales ($25 for wine bottles and $30 “bar supplies”). The event proceeds exceeded last year’s event by 20%, but fell short of the 2020 goal by 15%. Revenue from the event came from three sources – sponsorships from local businesses, ticket sales for the planned dinner (which never happened), and the sale of auction items online. The majority of people who purchased tickets for the cancelled dinner donated their tickets, and less than a handful of donors requested a refund of their dinner tickets. The event was heavily promoted via social media by both the board and staff, and via email by staff. There were over 1,000 unique registered bids on the auction items, and more than 1/3 of those bidders were not known to have participated in the past.

Lesson learned:  Childsplay’s Executive Director Steve Martin said, “We might do a virtual event again, but definitely not in this format. We executed this event in three weeks due to the crisis, and we had a great net primarily because we had already sold dinner tickets and then we didn’t need to feed anyone. Also, we used social media to its fullest!  We had designated posters and our board posted on Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook.  It was all very successful.  Some of the posts/videos were pushed out thousands of times.  We were careful to avoid a “crisis” pitch.  It was all fun and light to match our brand…and we wanted our audience to have fun.”

Everybody Wins DC (EWDC)

What: An education organization dedicated to improving children’s lives through shared reading. Their annual dinner is typical a sold-out 400 guest gala, last year’s event was held at the National Museum of Women in the Arts and represents one-third of their annual contributed revenue.

This year’s event: In March 2020 EWDC celebrated their 25th Anniversary, but they were forced to cancel it 28 hours prior, and then scrambled to present a virtual event one week later. The one-hour virtual “event” was a series of pre-recorded videos from EWDC stakeholders and staff, with over 200 auction items. Due to the last minute cancellation, EWDC is still navigating the cancellation of the catering and venue, but they are very pleased with the results of the event – so pleased that they are planning multiple virtual events (one for later this spring, and one for Back to School). The virtual event raised just over $300,000 (85% of the original goal for the live event). Two-thirds of the revenue was generated from sponsorships which were sold long before the live event was cancelled – and those funders have honored their sponsorships. The remaining funds came from the sale of auction items on the EWDC site during the event, as well as individual donations. Heavy lifting came from their Leadership Circle (similar to a “junior board”) and the Board of Directors who heavily promoted the virtual event via FaceBook, Instagram and Twitter, as well as three EWDC staff members.

Lessons learned: Jordi Hutchinson, Executive Director said, “We totally winged it! Timing was EXTREMELY tight, but fortunately we had our sponsorships and auction items secured and posted to our website. Our Leadership Circle and our Board of directors were phenomenal in promoting the virtual event via social media – with messaging from our Communications staff. We attracted dozens of new followers and grew our supporter list based on social media outreach. To say that we are pleased with the results is an understatement. We have never done a virtual event before, and now we already have two more we are planning for this year. Now that we have time to plan and we are not in a crisis mode, we will do several things differently, but we know that leaning heavily on social media to promote the event is a winning strategy.”

Many nonprofit leaders have challenged their existing in-person fundraisers for years. These events are extremely labor intensive, often resulting in a very small return on investment, especially when adding both the indirect costs of time from staff as well as direct costs associated with the event. When counseling our Georgetown University New Strategies nonprofit participants, we closely review their fundraiser events and challenge whether the juice is truly worth the squeeze. A $300,000 event that nets $50,000 is almost always NOT worth it, when staff time is factored into that “net” of $50,000. “Our board really loves this event” or “It’s less of a fundraiser and more of a friend-raiser” are common phrases we hear to justify the event. The phrase/excuse we hear the most though is “The event is great exposure for us to get our mission out and showcase our organization, building our brand”. In my nonprofit experience and I have attended roughly 75 lunches/galas a year, and RARELY were those events a great venue to “showcase” the mission and programs of the organizations. There are SO MANY more efficient ways to build a brand than in a room with a fixed audience of 300 people.

Finally, none of these three organizations planned to execute a virtual fundraiser in 2020, but COVID-19 necessitated that they quickly re-invent their major fundraiser event or risk losing a significant percent of their annual revenue. All three met their revenue goal. Virtual fundraisers may not be right for every nonprofit organization, but they just might be part of the “new normal” that we all come to embrace in the time of corona virus. I for one will enjoy “attending” several of them from the comfort of my home.

Bernard Boudreaux – Virtual Fundraising During COVID-19 was first posted at INSIDE CHARITY

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Bernard Boudreaux – Virtual Fundraising During COVID-19 and other INSIDE CHARITY content and comments are for informational purposes only, you should not construe any such information or other material as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice. All content on this site is information of a general nature and does not address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Nothing on this site constitutes professional and/or financial advice, nor does any information on the site constitute a comprehensive or complete statement of the matters discussed or the law relating thereto.

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Bernard Boudreaux is the deputy director of Georgetown’s Business for Impact program, and he worked for Target Corporation for over 30 years in various corporate responsibility roles. He says asking the following questions (in a safe, maybe anonymous survey format) will offer valuable insight to companies trying to understand their own workplace cultures.

Here are the questions he suggests:

1. Ask your employees what the company could do better to address racism in the workplace, in the local community and in the USA.

2. Ask your employees what experiences they have had within the company, if any, that made them feel that race was a factor.

3. Ask your employees if they feel leadership within the company — however “leadership” is defined — has exhibited racist behaviors. If so, how?

4. Ask your employees if there are any business practices  — HR, operations, philanthropic, logistical, etc.  — the company does that they think contributes to or enforces racist behavior or attitudes.

5. Ask your employees if they think discussing race is a “safe” topic at work.

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Headquartered in a community of 354 citizens, a rural seed company employed 12 people and distributed seeds across 4 upper Midwest states. It experienced modest growth year-to-year until securing a private equity investment, which enabled a significant scaling of the enterprise. Since investing, the company has acquired another complementary seed company and now employs 44 people and has expanded distribution to over 10 states. The next round of investment will enable that company to become a platform to save small seed companies, save more jobs in rural America and provide a valued product for farmers across the nation, producing products to feed the world. But that next investment round now may never happen.  

Like the rest of the nation, our rural communities are currently in crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That crisis is particularly acute in the financial sector. Many startup and growth stage companies are seeking equity and debt capital to allow their businesses to grow, and many will not survive without the rapid and efficient deployment of necessary funds in the weeks and months ahead.

To help address this crisis, Congress should take advantage of a financial intermediary that barely existed several years ago.  Rural venture capital and private equoty long been a stepchild to the developed and immense VC firms that live and invest in the San Francisco, New York and Boston markets. But beginning in 2014, USDA rejuvenated a program aimed at establishing private investment firms whose charters exclusively focused their investments to rural communities. Since 2014, seven RBICs have been licensed by USDA, raising more than $600 million in private capital and investing in a variety of industries, including: food and agribusinesses, healthcare, telemedicine, broadband deployment, and animal health technologies, to name a few. Existing RBICs have provided funding to over 40 small businesses that employ thousands of workers in rural communities and provide products and services across America.

Yet, this success comes without an opportunity that is afforded the comparable SBIC program administered by the Small Business Administration.  Under the highly successful SBIC program, SBICs raise private capital and combine it with funds borrowed at favorable rates (“leverage”) based on SBA guaranteed debentures (“loan obligations”). In recent years, existing RBICs have not had access to USDA leverage. As a result, despite the success of RBICs in deploying private capital, the program has been slow to grow relative to the SBIC program and other sources of  capital. Particularly in light of the current economic crisis, USDA should be authorized and empowered to issue debentures to fund requests from RBICs to leverage existing private capital, thereby increasing the program’s reach and economic impact, consistent with Congress’s intent when it established the RBIP almost twenty years ago.

The cost of the RBIC program to the federal government would be minimal.  The budget cost would be represented by the credit subsidy rate, which reflects the amount of risk to USDA in guaranteeing the debentures. For the SBIC program, the current subsidy rate has fallen to close to zero, reflecting the success of the lending program. There is no reason to think that the USDA experience would be materially different.

There is currently a long list of rural small businesses that are seeking capital from existing RBICs. If USDA were able to issue government-backed debentures to RBICs, it would facilitate the flow of private capital to rural businesses serving communities in all 50 states, thereby generating employment opportunities and stimulating innovation and other critical economic development. 

Matt McKenna, Former senior advisor to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, currently Executive in Residence of the Rural Opportunity Initiative at Georgetown University’s Business for Impact (part of the McDonough School of Business). Matt is also a Principal at Open Prairie, a private equity fund management firm that focuses on US rural food and agribusinesses.

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Nonprofits are in double jeopardy during COVID-19. Many charities provide essential services to feed, heal, shelter, and care for vulnerable communities. The number of individuals who need their help is skyrocketing as U.S. unemployment rises, while charitable donations fall off and in-person fundraisers are cancelled, including galas, dinners, walkathons and more. Given that nonprofits comprise the third largest U.S. industry – only retail and manufacturing employ more people – adapting new strategies to cope in these challenging economic times is now as important as ever.

At Business for Impact (new window) we coach nonprofit leaders how to diversify their revenue streams through our New Strategies (new window) program. During the pandemic, we reached out to some of the more than 1,000 nonprofit graduates of the program to learn how their organizations are pivoting in these challenging times. Several nonprofits have successfully transitioned to online fundraising. Others are ramping up social enterprise earned-revenue models. All are doubling down on asking donors for more support. Here is how they are getting real results.

Make more than an appealUjamaa Place (new window) (UJ) serves economically and educationally disadvantaged African American men in Saint Paul, Minnesota. (new window)Recognizing that members of the black community are suffering greater levels of health and economic harm from COVID-19, Ujamaa Place CEO Otis Zanders appealed to donors on social media (new window), sharing how UJ still provides shelter, career, and life skills training while maintaining physical distance.Also, UJ is renovating programs, upgrading technology to provide online training to clients, offering two meals per day on site, and ramping up new services in response to the early release of nonviolent offenders from incarceration during COVID-19. A New Strategies alumnus, Zanders says the 47% increase in donor response was because he made more than an appeal. He educated donors about the challenges and costs of operating during the pandemic, and inspired them to support UJ’s efforts to provide innovative, timely solutions.

Ramp up earned revenues.The Viscardi Center (new window), a partner of Business for Impact working on closing the disability employment gap, is a New York-based nonprofit with 400 employees. Both of Viscardi’s big fundraising events were cancelled this year, including a gala with celebrity athletes. Viscardi CEO John Kemp says that the Center is ramping up  Abilities, Inc. (new window), its social enterprise subsidiary that trains and prepares persons with disabilities (PWDs) to perform essential jobs in cleaning and sanitation industries. The Center has special know-how in disinfecting protocols because many PWDs live with multiple health conditions. Viscardi is leveraging that expertise for a win-win: Employing more PWDs while increasing earned revenue for the Center during these challenging times.

Go Virtual, Go Viral.The COVID-19 pandemic prompted Berkeley Repertory Theatre (Berkeley Rep) to virtually host their April fundraising gala, OVATION. Traditionally, the event was a sold-out 400 guest dinner at The San Francisco Ritz-Carlton which generated nearly 15% of annual contributed revenue. The virtual event exceeded expectations, bringing in nearly $1 million from more than 700 “remote” guests and sponsors– almost double the number who would have joined in person.Other nonprofits are leveraging the internet to go viral. The veteran’s organization, Code of Support Foundation (new window) (COSF) supports members of the military, veterans, and their families. COSF has stepped up online email marketing, issuing a new COSF Covid-19 response (new window) which prompted the highest email open rate in six months.  (new window)COSF is also capturing new donors through peer-to-peer fundraising and leveraging social media: One “peer designed” workout challenge (new window) puts man’s best friend to work in a whole new way and inspired a first-time COSF donor to give $500.

Government and philanthropic backstops. The National Council of Nonprofits (new window) provides updated COVID-19 Relief (new window) strategies for how nonprofits can access CARES and Paycheck Protection Program funds. Many community foundation state listings provide useful local information. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation just launched the new PowerOf (new window) platform, which connects individual givers with opportunities to connect locally and donate time as well as money. Also, Independent Sector (new window) provides nonprofit leaders and supporters with templates to take action (new window) and advocate for better nonprofit policies.

Times are tough, but there is also reason for hope. Historically, we know from our research for the latest edition of Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits (new window) that national nonprofits such as Feeding America, Habitat for Humanity and UnidosUS not only survived but thrived after the 2008 global financial crisis. We are optimistic that many nonprofits will also flourish after COVID-19.We look forward to helping our next cohort of New Strategies nonprofit leaders diversify their revenue strategies in 2020, and we thank our corporate and foundation sponsors (new window) for making the program possible. Visit New Strategies (new window) to learn more or email Ernest Chico Rosemond (new window). And to every nonprofit worker serving on the front lines, we recognize and appreciate the sacrifices you are making to help others.

Thank you,

What tools does USDA have to help rural communities and businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic?  First, USDA must promote business investment in the middle of the country according to former advisor to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Matt McKenna, who now heads the Rural Opportunity Initiative at Georgetown University.

There is an abundance of innovative businesses in the middle of the country that should be attractive to investment capital, McKenna told AgDay’s Clinton Griffiths on Farm Journal Live, but investors rarely venture far from the coasts.  McKenna said that leaves few options for rapidly growing startups in the middle of America.

“The banks that I grew up with, when they were on Main Street, aren’t there anymore, and a lot of times the traditional source of venture capital investment isn’t there anymore,” they’ve gone to bigger cities,” McKenna said. “We need to find excuses to have those bankers look back on rural America and look back for those investment opportunities that are, in my premises, they’re  more than present there, and very very popular, very very good deals and a great, great source of job growth.”

Hear McKenna’s full prescription for recovery for rural America in the recording of Farm Journal Live above.

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As the role of business in society continues to evolve, many organizations are rising to the challenge to support their community’s needs during COVID-19. For this defining moment in history, many companies will be remembered for their response during this pandemic. Leslie Crutchfield, executive director of Business for Impact at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, explains how socially minded businesses develop during the coronavirus and how companies are addressing both societal and environmental needs.

Do companies have a social responsibility to help their communities’ needs?

In our work at Business for Impact we believe that companies do have a responsibility to address the needs of society and the planet. We recognize that business leaders increasingly face new and urgent environmental and societal challenges that materially impact operations and revenues, and therefore, the bottom line. At Georgetown McDonough, I teach the MBA strategy course, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), using a multi-stakeholder lens that challenges students to think critically about how companies balance the needs of all stakeholders, including customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders. 

In the past, societal and environmental concerns were often relegated to corporate philanthropy and traditional CSR compliance efforts. Since the 2008 global financial crisis, investors have increasingly focused on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance, which drives companies to strengthen their CSR approaches. This new trend manifests in Business Roundtable’s new “Statement on the Purpose of the Corporation,” which emphasizes investing in employees, dealing fairly and ethically with suppliers, and supporting the communities where businesses operate, as well as delivering value for customers and long term returns to shareholders.

Are there examples of companies that are doing this well?

The most recognizable pioneers of business responsibility include well-known brands like Ben & Jerry’s, Timberland, and The Body Shop, who helped ignite the movement in the 1970s. Social responsibility has since moved mainstream as more companies strive to meet ESG investment criteria and employ CSR strategies to compete in the marketplace. Two standout examples include Unilever, a global leader in sustainability, and Bank of America, a founding partner of Business for Impact. Bank of America employs a range of strategies to drive social and environmental impact, ranging from philanthropy through its charitable foundation, to commercial grade investment sustainability products, such as green bonds.

How can corporate social responsibility efforts meet the needs of those communities greatly impacted by the virus?

In times of crisis, the best CSR efforts first meet the urgent needs of the people most impacted. With COVID-19, vulnerable communities require cash to address their immediate needs. Bank of Americacommitted $100 millionto communities impacted by the coronavirus, and this swift action funded medical response, food insecurity, access to learning, and support for vulnerable populations. Other generous early cash donors included Business for Impact’s New Strategies for Nonprofit Leaders program sponsors JPMorgan Chase, whocommitted $50 million globally to communities impacted by the pandemic; American Express, whopledged $5 million to support groups like International Medical Corps and Feeding America; and Wells Fargo who will give $6.5 million.

Some industries are well positioned to help fight the virus onthe frontlines,including pharmaceutical retailers like CVS HealthandTarget. Both companies are making a positive impact on customers and communities during the crisis. CVS Health remains committed to keeping its stores open, in addition to hiring 50,000 more workers and giving $500 bonuses to employees who work during the crisis. CVS Health also is also pivoting for consumers to provide no-cost delivery services, waiving co-pays for subscribers to Aetna insurance, and lifting refill limits. Target also is scaling up while investing more than $300 million in added wages, introducing a new paid leave program, offering bonus payouts, and relief fund contributions.

Companies are rejiggering manufacturing capabilities to produce urgently needed supplies and ensuring that essential goods flow through supply chains. We are even seeing breweries and perfumeries worldwide shifting production to manufacture hand sanitizer and disinfectant to donate to hospitals and frontline healthcare workers. 

How are companies anchoring their corporate coronavirus response in compassion?

Major brands are running advertisements positioned around compassion and promoting prosocial behaviors, such as hand washing and physical distancing. For example, healthcare companies, like Tylenol, are running campaigns centered on messages like their “#StayHome” ad, which emphasizes the importance of staying home to support nurses and other health care professionals. Similarly, Dove has been running a “Health Care Hero” campaign with an ad, “Courage is Beautiful,” featuring dramatic images of the marks left on healthcare workers’ faces from protective masks. Owned by Unilever, Dove also is donating hand washing soap to a number of nonprofits operating at the community level.

Do you think coronavirus will impact social movements? Will new social movements arise from this time in history?

Coronavirus is both impacting existing social movements and sparking new ones. In the United States, new grassroots groups are rising up to protest shelter-in-place orders and advocate to reopen local businesses, so that they can get back to work to revive the economy. Existing movements are shifting from in-person protests, to online agitation, as demonstrated by environmentalists who canceled events celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. The lethal impact of COVID-19 on low-income communities and people of color is bringing to light social disparities of health in the United States and the challenges of a system based on privatized health insurance. I hope to see positive changes in the U.S. health and economic system occur as a result of the global health and economic disaster caused by COVID-19.

What can people do to help others in this moment of crisis?

If you are a business leader, think first of your employees and your customers. What can you do to protect their health and livelihoods?

Every individual can contribute by practicing physical distancing and hand washing, as well as supporting front line nonprofits and advocating for policies that promote public health. In the grand scheme of things, it may feel insignificant what one person does, but keep in mind that millions of actions and voices, when coordinated in unison, can have an enormous impact. One of my favorite speeches is Robert F. Kennedy’s “Ripple of Hope” given in South Africa in 1966. He said each individual action “sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest wall of oppression and resistance.”

For more information, please visit Business for Impact’s new e-newsletter, CSR in the Time of Coronavirus.

Fish in the canals of Venice, wild boar in the streets of Madrid and a massive decline in global emissions: Could this be the best Earth Day ever?

Actually it could be the worst Earth Day if you consider that coronavirus jumped from animals to humans thanks to a “perfect recipe” of poor environmentalism.

We still know little about COVID-19, but one of the few certainties is that it is a zoonotic disease. This means that at some point in recent history it jumped from an animal to a human.

“If it did jump to humans in that Wuhan wet market,” says Felicia Keesing, an ecologist at Bard College, alluding to the prevailing theory of the first COVID-19 case. “It happened because there was some wild species (probably) in a cage being sold in that market.

“They were possibly highly disturbed, surrounded by species that they haven’t evolved with, under high stress and at high density. If we needed to make a perfect recipe how to make a pathogen jump that would be it.”

Keesing’s work has shown how a loss of biodiversity increases the risk of disease transmission. An article published in the journal Nature (new window)a decade ago, co-authored by Keesing, explained this with terrifying foresight.

“In a way you can think of that individual animal as the ultimate end of habitat fragmentation, of biodiversity loss,” adds Keesing.

To summarise, more biodiversity equals more predators and parasites and therefore less density of any species hosting a pathogen. But reduce that diversity and not only do you have more host species, but you also increase encounter rates between pathogens and hosts.

“The species that make up our biodiversity aren’t all equally likely to give us pathogens. The species that are most likely to give them to us are the ones that thrive when biodiversity is lost,” says Keesing. Think rats and humans.

Or humans and mosquitoes. We know, for example, that in the Amazon, deforestation increases the rates of malaria since mosquitoes love deforested land. Since March, 327 square kilometers of the Brazilian Amazon basin has been deforested as illegal loggers take advantage of reduced law enforcement.

So we have reached new lows in a spiral of biodiversity loss, but is it possible we will see another coronavirus-type pandemic if these continue?

“We absolutely will,” says Keesing. We already know that 75% of all emerging infectious disease over the last 50 years have been zoonotic, as estimated by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

This means somewhere, something has gone dangerously wrong in our contact with animals and unless we fix that, another zoonotic will inevitably emerge.

How To Stop The Next Coronavirus?

“COVID-19 is a global issue; human, animal and environmental health are inextricably linked,” says Heather Grady, a vice president at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA). This realisation has mobilised many-a-philanthropist, she says.

“There’s a huge opportunity for environmentalists to draw the connections and make the links between what’s happening in terms of our economies and our consumption and what’s happening in terms of our environment.”

Several are working on the One Health Initiative which unites the public, animal and plant health to prevent further outbreaks of zoonoses. The Global Commons Alliance, for example, works alongside RPA to reverse negative trends in biodiversity.

On the ground, this type of funding seeks to prevent deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, for example. On a smaller scale, charities are working to improve hygiene in the sorts of West African markets that gave rise to Ebola, another zoonotic.

A more activist approach is required in Asian wet markets as many, such as Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, the acting executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, want them banned.

But against this backdrop, more urgent “first-response non-profits”, are attracting the attention and money of many, says Leslie Crutchfield, executive director of Business for Impact at Georgetown University. This often comes at the expense of environmental causes.

And yet, the cause for environmental funding has never been greater. Ignore it and more diseases will spread between humans and animals, science shows.

“Connections between biodiversity and disease are now sufficiently clear to increase the urgency of local, regional, and global efforts to preserve natural ecosystems and the biodiversity they contain,” concludes the Nature article authored by Keesing et al in 2010.

So while this might be the worst Earth Day in the half a century since the day was created, maybe it will inspire leaders make the next one even better. It surely can’t be much worse?

Read the full article.

The world which emerges from this COVID-19 crisis will look different. Having handed out huge bailouts, many governments are likely to take a much greater interest in businesses’ behavior and performance. As fiscal deficits rise, so too will corporate taxes. Serious questions hang over the future direction of open trade. Inequality will grow in and between societies, and so will social unrest. 

In this undetermined future, agility will be a company’s best asset. CEOs who quickly adopt a 360-degree view and become more attuned to their employees, value chains, and wider society will maneuver with a degree of sensitivity and humanity not open to those still focused solely on narrow financial returns. 

C-suites able to put ego aside and forge enlightened alliances with their competitors, civil society, and official agencies will be better positioned to deal with interventionist governments and the pendulum of polarized politics. 

And these companies will recognize that the pressing need to create a more equitable and sustainable society has not gone away, but dramatically increased. 

Read full article.

Business for Impact is committed to unleashing the power of business to do good. In this second edition of Business for Impact’s e-newsletter about corporate social responsibility (CSR) and the coronavirus, we focus on the workforce and how corporations are supporting one of their most important assets – employees.

Former Chairperson and CEO of Xerox Corporation Anne Mulcahy said, “Employees are a company’s greatest asset –they’re your competitive advantage. You want to attract and retain the best; provide them with encouragement, stimulus, and make them feel that they are an integral part of the company’s mission.”

During a global health and economic crisis like COVID-19, CEOs can deploy a range of approaches to meet the needs of employees while operating under austere conditions. For companies fortunate to remain in business, leaders can hire more staff to address increased consumer demand and take pressure off existing workers; increase salaries and bonuses; provide workplace protections to prevent the spread of the virus; allow flexible work schedules; promote creative solutions such as job-trading and volunteering; and more.

While no large company has a “perfect” solution, Comcast NBCUniversal (a Business for Impact partner) sets a promising example. The company owns and operates television stations, theme parks, resorts and more, employing more than 140,000 people. It has committed $500 million to support employees “where operations have been paused or impacted (new window)” by temporary closures – including its Universal Orlando resort and hotels in Florida, where employees continue to receive full pay during the shut down. Actions like these can explain why Comcast NBCUniversal has been ranked among the “Fortune Top 100 Companies to Work For.”

Here’s how other companies are supporting their workforces during COVID-19:

  • Increased salaries and benefits: “Essential” businesses such as Albertsons, Amazon, Best Buy, Comcast, CVS, JOANN, Kroger, H-E-B, PepsiCo, Rite Aid, Starbucks, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart announced temporary pay increases or one-time bonuses for select hourly workers. Some of these retailers are also hiring thousands of more workers to meet rising demand.
  • Skilled Volunteering: Many employees want to use their unique skills to respond to the pandemic. Merck & Co., Eli Lilly, and Pfizer have redeployed medically-trained staff as health care volunteers, while keeping those employee volunteers on the payroll—with full pay and benefits—until they return to their previous jobs. General Mills has allowed some corporate employees to switch temporarily into manufacturing to meet higher production demands.
  • Furloughed but still paid: Businesses like Apple and Nestlé face store closures and work stoppages but continue to provide full salaries and benefits to the affected employees.

Small businesses: Even local businesses that lack corporate-level resources can still put employees first in times of crisis. Compass Coffee, a Washington, D.C. café chain, closed stores and laid off 80 percent of its 189 employees in March. Compass co-founders chose the least damaging of bad options to allow their workers to quickly apply for unemployment benefits.The few remaining workers receive a flat $15/hour from the CEO to the cashiers, according to one local barista.

Essential Workers: “Essential workers” risk their lives to serve others during COVID-19, and many are economically disadvantaged. These workers earn lower wages and carry less health-related insurance than the median wage earner in the United States. Approximately 145 million workers who qualify as “essential workers” earn a median salary of $18.58 an hour. The Brookings Institution recently published recommendations on “How to support essential workers during COVID-19,” including urging the federal government to provide “essential workers” with free life and health insurance and to expand the definition of “essential worker.”
Gig Workers:Approximately 57 million people – more than one third of the U.S. workforce – are paid as gig workers by companies like Amazon, Postmates, Uber, Lyft and more. More must be done to support this critical workforce, both to protect them from risky exposure while on the job now and in the long run. Gig workers lack social safety net protections that traditional employees enjoy, such as health benefits and retirement savings programs. Business for Impact is studying new approaches to providing today’s gig workforce with access to “portable” benefits. To learn more, email us.
Nonprofits: With more than 12.5 million employees, the nonprofit sector is the third largest private-sector employer in the United States, after retail and manufacturing. Nonprofits provide critical services that feed, heal, shelter, educate, and nurture. Many nonprofit workers are on the front lines and all are impacted by COVID-19. Business for Impact’s Philanthropy News Digest piece “No Money, No Mission” offers advice for nonprofits employers in these challenging times. 

The USee Vision Kit—a winner of Fast Company’s 2020 World Changing Ideas Awards—helps aid workers in the developing world accurately fit people with glasses.

“I’ve been that 10-year-old kid who didn’t know I needed eyeglasses and had my world changed,” White says, and he’s witnessed firsthand how glasses, and the USee Vision kit, can change someone else’s life. He remembers giving eyeglasses to a 78-year-old woman in Africa whose granddaughter looked after her day and night. “Five days later she was preparing the meals, she was fixing clothes, her granddaughter was back in the fields working, she read to the kids, ” he says. “She became the matriarch of this family for like six bucks worth of eyeglasses.”

The USee Vision kit has completed clinical trials at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University Hospital and the New England College of Optometry, and other trials are currently in process in Vietnam and Mongolia. White admits he’s not an optometrist, but he’s done this process “hand in hand with the health world.” “My hope is that every pharmacist around the world, every school nurse or school principal, even driver’s license offices have a kit,” he says. “By 2050 (new window), half of the world’s children are going to be African-born. If we can help them get a better education and become independent and have hope, I know eyeglasses are just a very, very small part of that, but ask anybody who wears them what is life like without them.”

Read the full story.

With more than 12.5 million employees and over 1.3 million organizations, the nonprofit sector is the third largest private-sector employer in the United States, after retail and manufacturing. Nonprofits touch the lives of one in five Americans, helping to feed, heal, shelter, educate, nurture, and inspire them. 

Over the last month or so, however, COVID-19 has laid bare the reality of the nonprofit mantra “No Money – No Mission.” In our current volatile environment, some nonprofits will thrive, some will be forced to close, and some — with the help of smart, speedy planning — will survive.  

Nonprofits on the front lines of the coronavirus response, including nonprofit hospitals, social service providers, and food banks, need immediate funds to scale their operations. The good news is that many of these nonprofits will come out of the crisis stronger than ever. 

Other nonprofits are at real risk. Smaller, local nonprofits that have meager or nonexistent reserves are already feeling the strain — especially museums, performing arts groups, botanical gardens, and other cultural organizations that depend on ticket sales and walk-in donations for revenue. Meanwhile, nonprofits that rely on galas, special dinners, and events such as walkathons, bikeathons, “mudfests,” and other large-scale gatherings are in trouble. 

Even before the emergence and spread of COVID-19, the situation for most nonprofits was fairly dire. In 2019, the vast majority (92 percent) of nonprofits in the U.S. had revenues of less than $1 million, while approximately half (50 percent) had operating reserves of less than a month (new window). These small and often local nonprofits are especially vulnerable to the lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders that have been imposed by governors and mayors across the country — and the deep recession  likely headed our way.

Faced with such uncertainty, nonprofits are putting their long-term fiscal plans on hold and shifting their focus to the short term. The imperative now is to manage cash flow, vendors, donors, and volunteers. Everything is in play — from restructuring to ensure the survival of the organization, to new collaborations and partnerships, to mergers. 

Here are some additional considerations nonprofits should keep in mind as they scramble to deal with the impacts of COVID-19. 

Explore all funding options, including those created by congressional action. Thanks to fast action by the federal government, a number of new funding opportunities have been created for nonprofits. The recently enacted CARES Act (new window) has several provisions for nonprofits, including small business loans that effectively become grants. The National Council of Nonprofits (new window) maintains a page (new window) with updated information and resources for nonprofits, including details on the CARES Act. Beyond federal government support, resources also are available at the state level and from many community foundations (new window)

Reaching out to donors has never been more important. One step every nonprofit should take is to proactively reach out to their donors. Many high-net-worth individuals have a donor-advised fund (DAF) or are required to make minimum distributions from their IRA and are in a position to maintain or even increase their support. Nonprofits should waste no time in contacting their donors to see whether they have a DAF, and if so, whether they would be willing to release additional funds to help out during the crisis. 

In addition, many foundations are rising to the COVID-19 challenge (new window) by providing immediate grants for short-term needs to their grantees, and a few, including the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation (new window), are extending their grants for a year and and/or frontloading them. Other examples of companies and organizations stepping up new commitments include:

  • Bank of America immediately after the World Health Organization pronounced COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11 pledged $100 million (new window) to communities impacted by the virus to increase medical response capacity, address mounting food insecurity, provide access to online learning, and otherwise assist vulnerable populations in the bank’s local markets. 
  • JPMorgan Chase has committed $50 million (new window) to address the impacts of the pandemic globally, while Wells Fargo, through its company-sponsored foundation, has pledged $175 million (new window) to help customers, communities, and employees grapple with the impacts of COVID-19. 
  • Feeding America established a COVID-19 Response Fund (new window) to help U.S. food banks support communities impacted by the virus and recently received a pledge of $100 million (new window) from founder Jeff Bezos — the largest gift in the organization’s history —to address rising food insecurity related to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Feeding America also is surveying its member food banks every two weeks to assess their needs.

On the operational level, nonprofits should be doing what they can to leverage technology and social media to manage stakeholders during this lockdown and shelter-in-place period. Virtual meetings for board, staff, and even donors via Zoom or Skype are an easy and affordable way to provide valuable face time. Some nonprofits, like the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra (new window), have even used YouTube as a platform for videos that have gone viral (new window)

The U.S. nonprofit sector is nothing if not resilient and innovative. Just as most nonprofits survived the global financial crisis of 2008, most — with some ingenuity on their part and the continued support of their donors and partners — will come through the coronavirus crisis intact. It’s in the best interest of each us to make sure they do.

Leslie Crutchfield is executive director of Business for Impact (new window) at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business (new window) and Ernest “Chico” Rosemond is program director for Business for Impact’s New Strategies (new window) program. 

Keeping tabs on elderly loved ones from far away

Vicki Kunkel knows what it’s like to live far away from an aging loved who needs care. Kunkel faced that challenge until her father — who was 70% blind and lived alone — passed away in August. Her home just outside of Chicago was a 3 1/2-hour drive from his home in a rural area of southwest Wisconsin. It’s a situation many people must confront. It’s also more challenging and worrisome now that the coronavirus crisis has forced many to stay at home and practice social distancing. And it’s one that can take not only an
emotional toll, but a financial one as well.

According to Diane Ty, a senior partner for the AgingWell Hub,
part of Business for Impact at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, AARP data show that annual out-of-pocket expenses for family caregivers averaged $7,400 in
2019. Whether you’re caring for a loved one long distance now or
may be in the future, the following tips can help make that caregiving as safe and painless as possible.

Reach out to your loved one’s neighbors, friends, and relatives.
Kunkel did that after her mom died. “My dad’s next-door neighbor
agreed to check in on him daily. His friends drove him to
and from some doctor appointments. For other appointments, How to care when you can’t be there Keeping tabs on elderly loved ones from far away we used one of the many social services
available in his rural area,” she says. “He lived in a very rural area,
so Uber and Lyft were not options. But the county had many services available for the elderly. It just takes a little research to find them.” Home Instead Senior Care, a franchise network that provides personalized care, support and education for aging adults and their families, echoes that advice: “Identify one or two trustworthy individuals that can look in on them if needed, and call them once a week for an update.”

Introduce yourself to the local mail carrier. Ask him or her to alert you or a neighbor if your loved one’s mail has not been brought in. “Some post offices have special programs set up to handle this type of ‘elder watch’ issue, so make sure to sign up your relative,” according to information from Home Instead Senior Care.

Buy your loved one a digital virtual assistant. “An Alexa or Google assistant device is easy to use and makes it easy to use voice commands to dial relatives and doctorofficers,” says Kunkel.

Explore technology related to the person’s medical issues. In Kunkel’s case, that meant taking a few days off to drive her dad to a blind society where he tested out VR googles for the blind. “I ended up purchasing IrisVision goggles that proved to be a godsend in helping him remain independent,” she says.

Tap social service agencies. They can arrange everything from rides to doctor appointments to grocery delivery for a very small fee. And don’t forget about Meals on Wheels Kunkel says.

Set yourself as the main contact point for loved one’s doctors. “After each doctor visit, either the doctor or his nurse would call me with an update,” says Kunkel, who says you have to remember to get the patient to sign the appropriate release of information forms.

Create a list of your loved one’s medical issues/medications, doctor’s names and legal documents. “Keeping this information will be essential if you need to access them in an emergency,” information from Home Instead Senior Care notes.

Consider professional caregiving. There are services that can help with grocery shopping, medication reminders, meal preparation and other everyday tasks, and provide companionship and monitor any issues that may crop up, according to Home Instead Senior Care. There are also geriatric care managers, who can help develop care plans that encourage family participation, explains Ty, who found a GCM helpful when dealing with her sick father. The CGM assessed her dad’s health, checked on her mom (his caregiver), and was able “to give my family the ‘permission’ to bring in outside help and eventually move my dad into a round-the-clock community care setting,” Ty says. “The GCM served as an objective voice in rallying my siblings to get comfortable with this recommendation and also helped find a paid caregiver and an assisted living facility solution.” You can find information about these services at and at The Aging Life Care Association.

Consider using a patient advocate.These professionals serve as family members’ eyes and ears when it comes
to long-distance health care needs, says Teri Dreher, a former nurse who started NShore Patient Advocates after she had to intervene when her father-in-law fell ill in Belize and realized the need for such a service.

Make sure someone you trust is with the patient as much as possible if he or she is hospitalized. “Enlist those who are good at taking notes, which should include the name
and shifts of nurses and doctors caring for your family member, as
well as observations and questions,” stresses Dreher, who adds vigilance is especially important during admission and discharge. “That’s when staff is working fastest and when errors are most likely to occur.”

Charities in the U.K. have been given a £750 million ($918 million) support package as many say they will struggle to see coronavirus through.

On Wednesday (April 6) the U.K. Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced two packages: £360 million ($441 million) for charities providing key services during the crisis. Another £370 million ($453 million) will go to small local charities, including those delivering food and essential medicines.

Although Sunak said that charities “shutting up shop at this moment would contravene their very purpose,” many are already having to consider this option. A lack of revenue from corporates, philanthropists and fundraising events means most charities are left struggling by coronavirus. For many, the government’s package is the only way of staying afloat.

Prior to Wednesday’s announcement, St John Ambulance Association, which works alongside Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), said that it could run out of money by August. However, it now will receive funding directly from the government.

In a survey by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), 37% of charities said they only had enough funds to last six months without additional help.Today In: Wealth Management

Not only will a closure of charities effect people when they need them the most, but for some of the 900,000 people employed in the U.K. charity sector it could mean mass layoffs.

“I think you will see contraction in the non-profit sector just like we’re seeing in the commercial economy,” says Leslie Crutchfield, executive director of Business for Impact at Georgetown University.

Read full article.

Business for Impact is here to support you and all of our partners committed to unleashing the power of business to do good – especially in these challenging times. We are heartened to see so many of our corporate partners responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with generosity and innovation. While this lethal virus is devastating communities, crushing the global economy, decimating entire industries, and putting millions out of work, businesses are launching new corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives to help families, workers, and communities fight back.

In this first installment of Business for Impact’s e-newsletter focused on CSR and the coronavirus, we feature some of our corporate partners’ early responses to the pandemic highlighting what works across various industries – from retrofitting breweries to manufacture hand sanitizer to ramping up pharmacy telehealth, and more.

Woman putting hand sanitize on her hands.

In times of crisis – whether due to a pandemic, earthquake, hurricane, wildfire, or other disasters – the best CSR efforts first meet urgent needs of people most impacted. This includes the employees and customers who are part of the local communities where a business sources and operates. Smart CSR strategies leverage all of the assets in a business’ arsenal, including not only real-time philanthropy but also brand power, operational capabilities, supply chain leverage, customer networks, nonprofit partnerships, and more. Let’s look at how some of our corporate partners are deploying these CSR best practices today.    When disaster strikes, vulnerable communities need cash to address immediate needs. Bank of Americacommitted $100 million to communities impacted by the coronavirus. Business for Impact was proud to see our founding partner act quickly after the pandemic was announced on March 11 by the World Health Organization. Funds will bolster medical response, food insecurity, access to learning, and support for vulnerable populations in Bank of America’s local markets.

Other generous cash donors include our New Strategies for Nonprofit Leaders program sponsors JPMorgan Chase, who committed $50 million globally to communities impacted by the pandemic; American Expresswho pledged $5 million to support groups like International Medical Corps and Feeding America; and Wells Fargo who will give $175 million.Some industries are well-positioned to help fight the virus on thefront lines, including pharmaceutical and goods retailers like CVS HealthandTarget.

CVS Healthis using all the tools in its arsenal to make a positive impact on customers and communities during the crisis. CVS Health remains committed to keeping its stores open. To meet exploding demand, CVS Health is ramping up capacity to serve customers, including hiring 50,000 more workers and giving $500 bonuses to employees who work during the COVID-19 crisis. Also, CVS Health is pivoting to help communities in need by ramping up no-cost home-delivery services, waiving co-pays for subscribers to Aetna insurance, lifting refill limits, and more to promote social distancing.

Targetis also scaling up while investing more than $300 million in added wages, introducing a new paid leave program, offering bonus payouts, and relief fund contributions. In order to respond to community needs quickly and effectively, Target is inviting its “guests” (customers) to direct which local nonprofits receive its corporate donations.Companies are rejiggering manufacturing capabilities to produce urgently needed supplies and ensure that essential goods flow through supply chains.

Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABInBev) operates breweries worldwide, including in China where COVID-19 first surfaced. ABInBev quickly pivoted to manufacture hand sanitizer and disinfectant to donate to hospitals and frontline healthcare workers, using alcohol extracted from the brewing process of its non-alcohol beers. Here in the United States, ABInBev’s Budweiser is redeploying its sports sponsorship investments to keep stadiums open for American Red Cross blood drives.

Stock image of water bottles.

The global food company Nestlé is laser-focused on keeping products moving through sustainable supply chains and into local markets and stores.Nestlé has promised to pay full salaries to employees affected by work stoppages for a minimum of three months and has temporarily raised wages for factory and distribution center workers in order to protect them from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. Also, Nestlé is donating food, bottled water, medical nutrition, and cash to impacted communities.These are a few examples of effective corporate responses to COVID-19. We will share more highlights from our partners in future Business for Impact e-newsletters throughout this crisis, with insights into both how companies can best respond in real-time and how they can aid longer term relief and recovery. We know from our experience working in and teaching CSR here at the McDonough School of Business that fighting a crisis like COVID-19 is not just a sprint – it’s a marathon.

We invite you to help us understand what else companies are doing, including what’s workingwhat’s not, and what business can do betterby sharing your stories with us on Twitter using the hashtag  #CSR+COVID-19 or email (new window).

Finally, a heartfelt thank you to all of our partners – especially our New Strategies nonprofit leaders who work in health, medical, and social service fields risking their lives to fight on the front lines every day.

Thank you.

One of the co-founders of the global PR agency Porter Novelli, Bill Novelli is a recognized leader in social marketing and social change. He is a professor of practice in the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program at the McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, and teaches courses in Corporate Social Responsibility, Principled Leadership for Business and Society, and Leadership and Management of Non-proft Organizations. Diane Ty is Senior Partner leading the Portion Balance Coalition and AgingWell Hub at Business for Impact – an initiative founded by Bill Novelli at McDonough; its mission is to help solve the world’s most pressing issues by delivering world-class education and impactfl student experience, and through direct action with global companies, nonprofts and government leaders. Bill and Diane share with us their experience of applying deep consumer insights to purpose-led communication initiatives.

Read the full article.

Being the primary caregiver comes with its fair share of challenges — not least of which can be knowing when and how to fill other family members in on what’s happening with your loved one, and asking for help when necessary. 

“There are several multi-functional caregiver apps, with some including a way to keep family members updated on the day-to-day status of a loved one,” says Diane Ty, senior partner and director at AgingWell Hub, a program at Georgetown University’s Business for Impact, where various organizations collaborate to help seniors. She recommends Caring VillageCaringBridge and Lotsa Helping Hands.

Read the full article. 

Over 130 attendees gathered to hear from retail executives Amy Hall, vice president of social consciousness, Eileen Fisher; Jennifer Gootman, vice president of social consciousness and innovation, Williams-Sonoma, Inc.; and Jesse Sneath, director of social innovation, Warby Parker. Business for Impact at Georgetown University’s McDonough School Business, together with Georgetown’s graduate Retail and Luxury Association (GRLA), hosted a panel discussion, “The Future of Social Impact in Retail,” on Feb. 11. Vishal Agrawal, Provost’s Distinguished Lapeyre Family Associate Professor, moderated the event. 

The retail executives discussed how sustainability is transforming their companies and the retail industry. Also, they shared how social impact has helped to drive their own career paths. 

Hall (B ’83)] kicked off the discussion and noted that she is a Georgetown alum who majored in Chinese and is an avid cyclist who built her own bike from bamboo. 

“After spending nine years fundraising for nonprofits, I answered an ad to be an assistant at Eileen Fisher, then a small women’s clothing company, where I held several jobs before combining my fundraising ability with a desire to contribute to helping people,” said Hall. 

As the only Chinese speaker on staff during a time when almost all of the company’s production was occurring in China, Hall found herself in a fortuitous position — she was able to communicate directly with suppliers. As the community relations manager, she immediately began to focus on the company’s supply chain as news about sweatshops was beginning to make national headlines and decided to take action to bring a human rights lens to the company’s work. 

Today, Hall is continuing the work she began to position the company as leaders in human, environmental, and economic stability. Hall is also guiding the company to align with its Benefit B Corporation status and Quadruple Bottom Line framework, and wants to influence their customers and future generations on sustainability. 

“Create change from the bottom up,” said Hall. “When visiting the base of your supply chains, you need to understand how farmers or whoever is crafting the product are growing the materials. Look into their practices and then engage them to think differently about improving those practices.”

A friend of a friend told Sneath that one of her friends was working on a startup and that she should get in touch. Nearly 10 years later, Sneath is now the director of social innovation at Warby Parker. 

Sneath recalled that the first conversation with the founders. “It surprised me as I did not think my belief system could be mirrored in a company’s mission,” said Sneath. 

Her first job was in customer experience where she realized in order to take good care of the customer, it was equally important to focus on the employees. 

“If the employees are also mission driven, then the customer would be in good hands,” said Sneath. 

For the last eight years, Sneath has been running the company’s social innovation team, which includes the company’s Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program. Sneath expanded on this program and began the Pupil Project, which gives free screenings and glasses to students in New York City schools. Today over 270,000 students have glasses, and the program is now serving students in the Baltimore area.

“Look for these careers as the job can live under many divisions within a company and it’s a continually evolving space,” said Sneath. “Our employees usually come to us for our social mission, and all teams need to understand what they are doing and why they are doing it.”

Gootman is now the vice president of social consciousness and innovation for Williams-Sonoma, Inc., where she spearheads social and environmental impact across the company’s eight brands. Before Williams-Sonoma, Inc., Gootman had several careers, including being a travel writer and a workforce developer for a nonprofit. She realized she wanted to find a career where she could follow her career passion to make jewelry. 

“While in Nicaragua for a summer program, I did a consulting project to encourage youth to stay in school, which inspired me to combine my love to create with business,” said Gootman. 

In 2011, Gootman went to work for West Elm, a modern furniture and home décor company, a division of Williams-Sonoma, Inc. She started there when the brand made its first public commitment to scale handcrafted products. Then, she launched the company’s partnership with Fair Trade USA, the leading certifier of fair trade products in North America. The company just celebrated five years of partnership, and is the first global home retailer to partner with this organization. 

“A commitment to craft and how things are made is what drives me, and those who work in sustainability see things how they could be not how they are,” said Gootman. “A company needs both visibility and ripple effects. The Board and the CEO need to be interested and engaged — you need that level of accountability and insight. Cross function ownership is key, and is the only way to drive programs forward.”

Students from the GRLA helped to organize this event along with Business for Impact.

“It is critically important to connect students with business leaders who inspire them,” said Daniel Schneider-Weiler (MBA’21), president of GRLA. “All three companies are  great examples of how the retail industry is responding to sustainability.”

Olivia Wujek (MiM’20) said, “I care about the underlying mission of a company, as I want to align my work in the future with purpose. I am looking for companies that truly make a positive impact on the world.”

For more information about Business for Impact, visit

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s “100&Change” competition is a chance for organizations and coalitions to submit proposals for the chance to win a $100 million grant to help solve one of the world’s most critical social challenges.

The vision care proposal was created under the leadership of the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, the release states. Other partners include Global Vision 2020 and Georgetown University Business for Impact.

Read the full article.

High-scoring 100&Change applications featured in Bold Solutions Network

Washington, D.C. — The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation today unveiled ‘Let There Be Sight’ as one of the selected proposals designated as the Top 100 in its 100&Change competition for a single $100 million grant to help solve one of the world’s most critical social challenges.

‘Let There Be Sight’ combines the talents of lead partner, Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, with supporting partners Georgetown University’s Business for Impact, OneSight and Global Vision 2020, to address the world’s largest disability.  Over one billion people, mostly in the Global South, need basic reading or distance correction, but do not have access to eyeglasses. This consortium leverages four proven, field-tested approaches to create a sustainable, scalable, low-cost system that provides access to vision care through a series of vision centers. These centers will be located in local health centers and support a network of ‘Visionpreneurs’ who will travel to private sector workplaces and remote communities, offering on-site exams and glasses. They will be recruited from the large percentage of young people in the Global South who are unemployed. Business for Impact’s role will focus on training and supporting the Visionpreneurs, and on providing eyeglasses to employees in private sector workplaces.

The Top 100 represent the top 21 percent of competition submissions. The proposals were rigorously vetted, undergoing MacArthur’s initial administrative review, a Peer-to-Peer review, an evaluation by an external panel of judges, and a technical review by specialists whose expertise was matched to the project.

Each proposal was evaluated using four criteria: impactful, evidence-based, feasible, and durable. MacArthur’s Board of Directors will select up to 10 finalists from these high-scoring proposalsthis spring.

”We are honored to be among the top 100 applicants and to have the opportunity to work with our partners,” said Gael O’Sullivan, Senior Partner at Business for Impact. “This project aligns with our mission, which is focused on leveraging the power of the private sector to solve social problems.  In this case, our model is a win-win for businesses.  They will see an immediate substantial return on investment through increased employee productivity, as well as via reductions in workplace injuries and accidents.”

MacArthur seeks to generate increased recognition, exposure, and support for the high-impact ideas designated as the Top 100,” said Cecilia Conrad, CEO of Lever for Change and MacArthur Managing Director, 100&Change. “Based on our experience in the first round of 100&Change, we know the competition will produce multiple compelling and fundable ideas. We are committed to matching philanthropists with powerful solutions and problem solvers to accelerate social change.”

Since the inaugural competition, other funders and philanthropists have committed an additional $419 million to date to support bold solutions by 100&Change applicants. Building on the success of 100&Change, MacArthur created Lever for Change (new window) to unlock significant philanthropic capital by helping donors find and fund vetted, high-impact opportunities through the design and management of customized competitions. In addition to 100&Change, Lever for Change is managing the Chicago Prize, the Economic Opportunity Challenge, and the Larsen Lam ICONIQ Impact Award.

Bold Solutions Network Launches

The Bold Solutions Network launched today, featuring Business for Impact, Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, OneSight and Global Vision 2020, one of the Top 100 from 100&Change. The searchable online online collection of submissions contains a project overview, 90-second video, and two-page factsheet for each proposal. Visitors can sort by subject, location, Sustainable Development Goal, or beneficiary population to view proposals based on area of interest.

The Bold Solutions Network will showcase the highest-rated proposals that emerge from the competitions Lever for Change manages. Proposals in the Bold Solutions Network undergo extensive evaluation and due diligence to ensure each solution promises real and measurable progress to accelerate social change.  

The Bold Solutions Network was designed to provide an innovative approach to identifying the most effective, enduring solutions aligned with donors’ philanthropic goals and to help top applicants gain visibility and funding from a wide array of funders. Organizations that are part of the network will have continued access to a variety of technical support and learning opportunities focused on strengthening their proposals and increasing the impact of their work. 

More About 100&Change

100&Change is a distinctive competition that is open to organizations and collaborations working in any field, anywhere in the world. Proposals must identify a problem and offer a solution that promises significant and durable change.

The second round of the competition had a promising start: 3,690 competition registrants submitted 755 proposals. Of those, 475 passed an initial administrative review. 100&Change was designed to be fair, open, and transparent. The identity of the judges and the methodology used to assess initial proposals are public. Applicants received comments and feedback from the peers, judges, and technical reviewers. Key issues in the competition are discussed in a blog on MacArthur’s website.

In the inaugural round of 100&Change, Sesame Workshop and International Rescue Committee were awarded $100 million to educate young children displaced by conflict and persecution in the Syrian response region and to challenge the global system of humanitarian aid to focus more on building a foundation for future success for millions of young children. 

Media contact: Berry Brady,, 703-609-6643

Bill Novelli speaking at the World Social Marketing Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Bill Novelli, founder of Business for Impact gave the keynote address at the 2019 World Social Marketing Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland. Novelli discussed his social marketing expertise to drive social change.

“When we started Business for Impact nearly a decade ago, one of our students – in learning about business doing well by doing good, remarked, ‘Especially with issues like the climate, there’s a huge business opportunity there, and there’s going to be a huge market for solving it.’ Earlier, we were relegated to charity or do-gooder-ism, but we now know it can also make you money.

The public is concerned about companies’ impact on the environment. But at the same time, the public has come to expect, even demand that companies do good – to take a positive stand on social issues, to support communities and to invest in causes and nonprofits.

Companies are moving along the continuum toward greater corporate social responsibility, or better stated, doing well b doing good and integrating social and environmental strategies into their core businesses. There are good reasons for doing this, from profit to cost savings, employee satisfaction and engagement, attracting talented new employees, like our Georgetown students, competitive advantage and license to operate.”

View the full keynote address.

Georgetown McDonough (new window) MBA students interested in embracing environmental, social, and governance programs now have the option of a new MBA Certificate in Sustainable Business. The Certificate, available to both Full-Time and Flex MBA students starting this season, will prepare graduates to address the social and environmental challenges facing the business world. They’ll understand how to integrate sustainability into all business functions and continually respond to shifts in consumer demand, employee interest, industry volatility, and more.

Read the full article.

Fink’s pledges — including a “commitment to accountability,” proxy pressure on boards and actions to avoid thermal fossil fuels — “have teeth” compared to a high-level commentary on sustainability only a year earlier, said Leslie Crutchfield, executive director at Georgetown University’s Business for Impact center. “Yes, more-progressive advocates for [environmental, social and governance] investing will say BlackRock is late to the parade, but this [year’s letter] is not lip service.”

Read the full article.

Things are changing, and for the better – for the betterment of corporations, for their employees and for society.  In our Business for Impact center at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, two of our key operating principles are that business can and should be a powerful force for good, and that complex societal problems can only be solved by leaders working effectively across sectors: private public and civil society. Bill Novelli, founder of Business for Impact shares three changes currently occurring in social impact work:

  1. The role of private sector in advancing people, planet, and profit
  2. A broader application of social marketing
  3. Exciting new opportunities to carve out meaningful careers in social impact

Let’s take advantage of all this to make a real dent in the universe.

Read the full article.

Young people, who tend to be politically progressive, are being confronted with the ascendancy of conservative movements in many countries, which is pushing them toward activism. And they are using social-media tools to mobilize large numbers of youths to protest quickly. Those factors set them apart from previous generations of youth activists, says Leslie Crutchfield, executive director of Business for Impact at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and author of How Change Happens: Why Some Social Movements Succeed While Others Don’t.

Read the full article.

DTN photo by Joel Reichenberger

Matt McKenna, executive in residence at Georgetown University’s Business for Impact, presented at the 13th annual DTN Ag Summit to explain why rural America continues to struggle to attract financial investors and what venture capital firms are looking for.

“I don’t blame the investment itself. I don’t blame the entrepreneurs. I don’t blame bankers. What I blame is a disconnect between the financial resources and the information available and the awareness of it,” McKenna said. “That fear and that wariness (about venture capital) is largely attributable to a lack familiarity, to a feeling that — what am I going to lose, as opposed to what am I going to gain? And the way to make that conversion is by education, experience and awareness.”

Read the full article.

As gridlock persists in addressing our nation’s critical infrastructure challenges – America’s roads, bridges and railways – a similar, yet vastly underreported set of challenges exist with our natural infrastructure: namely, the loss of our large privately-owned working forests. Consider the following: 36 million acres of forestland have disappeared over the past 30 years. Another 37 million more acres are at risk of fragmentation and development. It’s quietly becoming an irreversible environmental and economic crisis for communities across the country.

As companies competing in the 21st century embrace environmental, social and governance (ESG) programs and integrate these strategies throughout their businesses, Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business is launching an MBA Certificate in Sustainable Business to prepare graduates to address urgent environmental and societal challenges that affect companies’ operations and business models. 

The certificate will be open to both Full-time and Flex MBA Program students in the spring of 2020. It offers students the opportunity to hone their ability to lead and manage organizations that are both profitable and sustainable through the lens of ESG.

“Companies understand the need to incorporate sustainability approaches into all business functions in response to changing consumer demand, shifting employee interests, increased volatility in supply chains, greater exposure to public scrutiny, and other factors,” said Vishal Agrawal, Provost’s Distinguished Lapeyre Family Associate Professor and academic director of the certificate. “It is imperative that our MBA students understand how to assess and identify these challenges and opportunities as they assume management and leadership positions after graduation.”  

The MBA Program developed this interdisciplinary certificate in collaboration with Agrawal and the school’s Business for Impact initiative. The development of the certificate was partially supported by a grant from Georgetown University’s 2019 Laudato Si’ Fund.

“A heightened curricular focus on sustainable business supports Georgetown McDonough’s goal to educate students to be responsible business leaders,” said Paul Almeida, dean and William R. Berkley Chair. “The certificate reflects Georgetown McDonough’s focus on educating our students in ways that can help them enhance their own success, help businesses achieve their goals and at the same time make the world a better place.”

Students who elect to enroll in the certificate program will take a 10.5-credit sequence of integrated MBA core and elective courses to build understanding of challenges and opportunities related to business sustainability and how to address them. Upon graduation from the MBA Program, students will receive a notation on their official university transcript along with a certificate of completion.

The school has two elective courses that are fundamental to the program:

  • Environmentally Sustainable Operations and Business Models, which takes on a business-oriented perspective by focusing on voluntary or economically motivated sustainability considerations and initiatives.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility, which focuses on the relationship between business, society, and the environment, and its evolution to ESG in its most current form.

MBA students will be able to apply for the program starting January 2020. For more information, visit this website

Matt McKenna, with Georgetown University’s School of Business, explaining why large investment firms shy away from investing in rural water projects.

Listen to the full article.

As gridlock persists in addressing our nation’s critical infrastructure challenges – America’s roads, bridges and railways – a similar, yet vastly underreported set of challenges exist with our natural infrastructure: namely, the loss of our large privately-owned working forests. Consider the following: 36 million acres of forestland have disappeared over the past 30 years. Another 37 million more acres are at risk of fragmentation and development. It’s quietly becoming an irreversible environmental and economic crisis for communities across the country.

Working forests provide us with clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. They support species diversity and generate more than 8.5 million jobs in the forest products and outdoor recreation industries. Perhaps even more important, they are an essential part of our nation’s efforts to address climate change, sequestering 12-15% of the United States’ annual carbon emissions.

As a country, we need to keep these forests intact and create a pathway for their permanent conservation as sustainable, working forests – and fast. This is where the bond markets come into play. In today’s economy, they are particularly good at identifying recurring streams of cash flow, risk adjusting and lending against them. Public policy isn’t a viable solution for a number of reasons – particularly state budget priorities that result in forest protection being an afterthought. According to the Institute of International Finance, total green and sustainability debt issuance in 2019 is projected to double levels from 2017. It will be nearly four times the level of issuance compared to 2016. So why not harness the bond market to help acquire these assets when they come up for sale in order to buy the time required to work out a permanent solution?

It’s worth noting that this isn’t a commercial proposition, but one defined by the non-profit sector. It has found a way to tap into the investment grade bond market and help re-engineer the markets to protect forests and stem the pace of loss. An abundance of capital and at-risk working forestlands, combined with a low-interest rate environment, squarely works in favor of conservation solutions that investors are gravitating toward. We must build on this.

Consider the example of The Conservation Fund, an Arlington, VA-based nonprofit that recently issued the first-ever green bond for conservation – a $150 million ten-year investment-grade offering. It provides a glimpse into how we might protect these forests. Investors received a market yield (thanks mostly to the revenue from sustainable tree harvesting) and the Fund received critical capital to accelerate their purchase of high conservation value forests when they become for sale. Once acquired, the Conservation Fund works with public agencies to put in place conservation easements that lock in the environmental and local economic benefits associated with working forests. Moreover, by combining philanthropic capital with the bond proceeds, there is a real chance to achieve impact at scale that is truly significant in moving the needle on climate change and rural economic development.

The power of the capital markets to leverage philanthropy and government action is real. We can achieve permanent, tangible results on the ground at the speed and magnitude these great challenges demand. The world needs this kind of innovation, bringing the strength of the markets to bear on the greatest land use challenge in America today. While the world waits for governments to align their policies and practices to address the climate crisis, this is something permanent we can do right now. In short, we buy critical time. Let’s seize upon it.

Robert Bonnie, Executive in Residence at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, served as Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the Obama Administration. Matthew McKenna was a senior official at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and currently leads the Rural Opportunity Initiative at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business

How Change Happens explains why some of the most significant 21st century shifts happened. By studying the movements behind many important causes—from LGBT marriage equality and tobacco control, to gun rights expansion, acid rain reduction and more, author Leslie Crutchfield explores how society came to celebrate gay weddings and ban smoking in public, and at the same time allow guns to be carried in most U.S. states, and friends won’t let each other drive drunk. The answer to why some movements succeed while others don’t is not what you think.  

According to Leslie Crutchfield and her team at Georgetown, who have crunched the numbers and compared the data, “There’s no real recipe for social change, no ‘movement in a box’ that we can put in place to create a more equitable, just society” (ix). But there is good news: These researchers have identified six strategies that “seemed to distinguish the effective movements from the others”:

  1. Strong grassroots
  2. Builds momentum state-by-state 
  3. Changes hearts and policy 
  4. Partners with “Adversarial Allies” 
  5. Partners with Corporations
  6. “Leader-full” (12-14)

Read full article.

A strategic planning process involving all members of the Portion Balance Coalition (PBC) resulted in our work being grounded with three key strategic pillars: 1) Individual Empowerment; 2) Food Landscape; and 3) Collaborative Learning, Sharing & Amplifying. Together, these strategic focus areas combine to define our theory of change: activating consumers to create demand and acceptance for balanced food portions, enabling industry to respond to the demand.

“The solution here can’t be solved by one sector alone, we’d all be talking past each other,” says Ty, who works at Georgetown University’s business school as the coalition’s project director. The group’s diversity makes it uniquely powerful among previous efforts; it’s also a powder keg. Still, members of the coalition think it’s worth a shot.

Read full article.

“It’s a good sign for the category, we are all collectively growing,” said Seth Goldman, executive chairman of Beyond Meat, when asked about new alternative meat products during a recent interview at Georgetown University’s Business for Impact, part of the McDonough School of Business.

Read full article.

You’ve heard about portion control, but what is portion balance? Stephanie Ho, Diane Ty, Portion Balance Coalition leader and senior partner at Business for Impact, and Stephenie Fu, CNPP, discuss why diverse partners are working together to define portion balance.

Listen to full article.

Los Angeles officials are considering banning all e-cigarettes and vaping devices in the city, one of the most extreme proposals yet to curb a nationwide outbreak of lung illnesses linked to vaping.

“We really did get the rates down pretty low, and then this e-cigarette thing happened and it all kind of blew up again,” said Gael O’Sullivan, an expert in health marketing at the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business. “As unfortunate as these illnesses or deaths are, it’s a tipping point where it really is a public health emergency.”

Read full article.

Matt McKenna, a founder of Georgetown University’s Rural Opportunity Initiative and Executive in Residence, shared with Agri-Pulse to why rural areas need more, not less government funding. ROI aims to serve rural American communities by driving financially and socially-sustainable rural development. It has been well-established that rural businesses lag behind their urban counterparts in terms of venture and early growth capital investment, and accessing debt and operating capital. “You can’t expect people to move where the opportunities are, you have to bring the opportunities to the people,” says McKenna.

At the same time, private investors are eager to identify and support rural growth opportunities, but most are not aware of what is available, and often the deals are misaligned with traditional investment models. The investor experience in U.S. rural communities in some ways mirrors that of impact investors in search of deals overseas in developing regions, where the amount of capital is more robust than the pipeline of deals, and a mismatch exists between the levels and kinds of returns investors seek, and what small and growing businesses can offer. 

Read full article.

Many MBA programs across the nation have noticed a steep rise in social impact interest and continue to respond to the growing interest in social innovation. Stanford Graduate School of Business reports more than 90% of the 488 Stanford GSB MBA and specialty business master’s students took a course related to social innovation or social impact.

At Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, Business for Impact believes solving our world’s most complex challenges requires collaboration across sectors – public, private, and nonprofit. Business must be at the table in order to succeed. The initiative creates partnerships with business, government, and non-profit leaders to co-create solutions and drive positive impact.

With more than 100 current Business for Impact student leaders, Georgetown students have access to additional course electives and hands-on experience working with external partners in the field.

Read full article.

The Global Social Enterprise Initiative (GSEI), founded in 2011 by Bill Novelli at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, is now Business for Impact. Our dedication to solving the world’s most pressing issues through delivering world-class education, impactful student experience, and direct action with global companies, nonprofits, and government leaders remains at the center of our work. We look forward to continue teaching and working with students and companies to manage the triple bottom line – people, planet, and profit.

Photo of farm with rolling hills in background.

For over a decade the Niger Delta Partnership Initiative (NDPI) has supported communities throughout the Niger Delta in Nigeria by empowering them to create and sustain jobs, end conflicts, and build a better future. NDPI focuses less on giving direct grants and more on helping individuals access information, establish key relationships, and enhance their capacity to create change for themselves. NDPI is an independent nonprofit established by Chevron Corporation.

NDPI is based in the United States and works closely with its local, Nigerian-led partner, the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND). Together these organizations are dedicated to fostering peace, economic development, and advocacy/transparency in the region, while recognizing that each of these goals reinforces the other and creates a cycle that leads to stability and growth.

Business for Impact, part of the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University is working with NDPI to write and publish a case study identifying key lessons learned to-date and recommendations going forward to leverage the NDPI experience for further progress. In fall 2019, Business for Impact and NDPI will unveil the case study and share research findings at a public convening of cross-sector global development leaders at Georgetown University. The goal of the project is to develop new knowledge that can help NDPI and other leaders from corporate, non-governmental organizations (NGO) and government organizations to seek to improve their global development impact through public-private partnerships. The project has two main objectives:

  1. Research and Write a Case Study: The case study will look at its partners’ key activities over the past 10 years in the Niger Delta region, focusing on what has worked, what has not, and what approaches might be developed in the future to achieve greater impact.
  2. Produce Recommendations: These insights will include best practices and lessons learned that can be applied by NDPI, its partners, and other corporate, NGO, and government leaders seeking to employ public-private partnerships to create better futures for people living in emerging regions.

A case writer has been assigned to this project and will create a 20-30 page case study, which will include the following elements:

  • Documentation and description of NDPI and its NGO, government, and corporate partners’ key activities and approaches with a focus on the working relationships between local, national, and international partners
  • Analysis of the positive, neutral and negative aspects of these partnership approaches; and
  • Synthesis of patterns to inform the development of key findings, lessons learned, and recommendations for NDPI and its partners for future forward progress.

For more information, please contact Project Director Gael O’Sullivan at

Georgetown McDonough received high marks across the board in a new analysis of recruiter responses (new window) to the annual Bloomberg Businessweek MBA employer survey, scoring first in the world for having the best-trained graduates in addition to being listed in the top seven of all six categories.

“Georgetown McDonough’s alumni continue to raise the reputation of our MBA programs among employers as they arrive on day one prepared to make an impact,” said Prashant Malaviya, senior associate dean of MBA programs. “A key component of the Georgetown MBA is finding ways to integrate the changing needs of employers into the curriculum, from analytics and big data to the rise of fintech. Our students are ready to be leaders and problem-solvers in an ever-changing world.”

Read more here.

The New York Review of Books

In this provocative piece in THE NEW YORK REVIEW BOOKS, “The Path of Greatest Resistance,” author David Cole makes a compelling case for why social media help spark movements in a flash, but digital networks might stall long-term change more than foster it. He reviews Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest by Zeynep Tufekci along with Leslie Crutchfield’s new book, How Change Happens: Why Some Social Movements Succeed While Others Don’t, and shows how social media has helped new progressive movements flare up – MeToo, Parkland Students’ March for our Lives and the Women’s March – but protests these days can be ephemeral. READ MORE (new window)

Reed Smith, an international law firm, has become a member of the Student Leader Advisory Council of the Business for Impact at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. The council works with Business for Impact leadership to drive growth and impact of the Student Leader Program. Roles and responsibilities of council members include serving as mentors to the student leaders, providing seed funding for student-led projects, and speaking at sponsored networking and leadership development events.

Business for Impact partners with companies, nonprofits, and government agencies – and across sectors – to create lasting social, economic, and environmental impact.

Student engagement is central to the organization, with more than 75 student leaders from across the university who are involved in partner research, strategic planning, internships, case studies, and other activities.

“We are pleased to be part of this important program,” said Sandy Thomas, global managing partner, Reed Smith. “Our firm’s emphasis on corporate responsibility, community service, and pro bono work will enable us to provide great experiences for the participating Student Leaders.”

Business for Impact Student Leaders’ work with Reed Smith initially will focus on social impact finance, the U.S. opioid epidemic, and the international refugee crisis.

“We are excited to have Reed Smith on our council,” said Joe Weinstein, Business for Impact senior partner and co-director of the Student Leader program. “They will provide strategic counsel and will be great mentors for our students.”

About Reed Smith: Reed Smith is an international law firm dedicated to helping clients move their business forward. We enrich our client’s experiences with us and support them in achieving their business goals. Our longstanding relationships, international outlook and collaborative structure lead to the speedy resolution of complex disputes, transactions and regulatory matters. For further information, visit (new window).

About Business for Impact: Based at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, Business for Impact enables current and future Georgetown-educated leaders to drive social, environmental, and economic impact across the globe.