Each year, we gather with hundreds of the most purpose-driven brands to celebrate the good they’re doing and look at the trends shaping the good that’s yet to come. This year, we had nearly 1,500 changemakers join us online to ide8, celebr8 and elev8 purpose — and we came out with a few key themes that we believe will inform the future of Goodness. We are excited to share these with everyone who couldn’t attend (and those who attended and want a recap). So, here they are — six enlightening trends from the corporate purpose event of the year that every company can put into action to change the world for the better.
1. Granting is fast becoming more flexible and trusting
We heard from companies that the crises of the last year acceler8ed and illumin8ed the need to adapt corporate purpose programs in all kinds of ways, including how we support nonprofits through granting. We’re seeing more companies streamline grant applications and reporting to remove burden on nonprofits so they can focus on what matters — the causes to which the grants are applied.
2. Companies continue to rewrite the playbook on volunteering
Virtual volunteering was once a nice-to-have, but today it’s a must-have, and the need for it will far outlast COVID-19 to become part of the new hybrid world. And the definition of volunteering is changing too. Many programs are expanding to include a record number of volunteer opportunities which are small acts of kindness that people are often already doing — without a nonprofit attached — like handwashing, mask-wearing or meal delivery. Companies are then rewarding people for those actions with donation currency that lets them further support nonprofits they care about.
With an exponential rise in the power of the individual in a year that was led by movements, this expanded definition of volunteering is one of the ways companies are empowering people and giving them a sense of personal meaning and impact.
3. Letting your people lead isn’t so scary
Many CSR folks are seeing huge value in empowering their people to play a bigger role in their programs and letting them lead. They’re doing this in a few ways:
- Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are mobilizing as trusted catalysts for change and promoting employee learning, awareness, self-reflection, empathy building and behavioral change around systemic issues.
- Local champions
- Program managers are really leaning on local employees to champion how the company responds to crises globally and locally, in more resonant ways. They play a critical role in developing relevant content, engaging people in meaningful opportunities and activating their networks locally.
- Peer-to-peer giving
- Given the economic uncertainty of the last year, when donor fatigue was a real concern and some industries were worried about survival, Benevity clients gave individuals the power to share their personal stories and passions by creating their own giving opportunities that they matched with their own funds.
4. Real action on DEI is happening and you’re the ones doing it
Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging is topping the executive agenda, but how do you actually create a diverse workplace and culture? One of the ways it’s showing up is in the growing number of companies adding international users — 39% of companies added international employees in 126 countries in 2020!
We’ve also seen exponential growth in the number of small, positive actions tracked in our Missions module this year, with the top themes around health and wellness, diversity, inclusion and belonging, and sustainability. These positive actions require little-to-no time or money to complete, and in the past year they’ve helped companies encourage and drive inclusive behaviors around issues like racial equity, mental health in the workplace and more.
5. Corporate purpose programs are casting their nets wider to engage customers
Culture and brand are two sides of the same coin, so it’s no surprise that many of the companies in attendance at Goodness Matters are, or are looking to start, investing in purpose from the inside out. They are expanding beyond their employee engagement programs to include customers in doing good and driving similarly positive outcomes.
We also got a peek behind the curtains of Microsoft’s Give with Bing initiative that uses Benevity’s micro-donation API to let people earn donation rewards every time they search with Bing. All of these programs make a lot of sense when you consider that customers have even higher expectations of companies than employees do, and they’re choosing to spend their money with purpose-driven brands.
6. It’s time to get comfortable being uncomfortable
One of the big questions we heard at this year’s conference was “how do we act on the issues our people care about without alienating customers or risking our company’s reputation?” The interesting thing about that question was how it was phrased. It wasn’t “should we act?” but “how can we act?” In the closing keynote, Luvvie Ajayi Jones reminded us all to value (and be) the truthtellers and troublemakers in the room by showing up as our authentic selves and being ok to rock the boat when it’s the right thing to do.
Learn more information about these top trends by reading the full blog post on our website!