Nonprofit organizations play a very important role in our society. The intent of the nonprofit design is to serve the public by delivering goods and services to communities that various levels of the government can’t or won’t provide to citizens. Most often, nonprofits serve their communities at little or no cost to the people they serve. That might lead you to believe that nonprofits are inherently socially responsible, but do your stakeholders hold the same perception?
The current social climate is much different than what past generations have been accustomed to. To varying degrees, societies expect that nonprofits will deliver beyond what their stated missions require. With this in mind, there’s always more that you can do to make improvements in the area of social responsibility.
The reality of today is that our societies hold the expectation that corporations and nonprofits will pay attention to the social issues that matter to them, beyond what’s required by an organization’s mission.
With that in mind, how does your nonprofit measure up? The answer should get your nonprofit board thinking about how to define social responsibility and what you can do to ensure you’re meeting your community’s needs and expectations.
What Does It Mean to Be a Socially Responsible Nonprofit Board?
In the interest of providing a frame of reference, corporate social responsibility (CSR) Is a business model that holds companies responsible for social issues. Corporate social responsibility is also generally referred to as the triple bottom line which encompasses profit, people, and the planet. In a broad sense, it means that companies are interested in contributing positively to customers’ quality of life.
How do we define social responsibility as it pertains to nonprofit boards?
Social responsibility can encompass a wide variety of legal, economic, and ethical issues including these issues:
- Diversity and inclusion
- Employee turnover
- Unequal compensation rates
- Transparency in reporting
- Environmentally friendly practices
- Employee wellness
- Conflicts of interest
In essence, social responsibility for nonprofits requires taking voluntary action above and beyond what the law requires in ways that are visible to stakeholders.
Benefits of Focusing on Nonprofit Social Responsibility
Your profit has much to gain by embracing socially responsible practices. In general, making an effort to be socially responsible goes a long way toward generating favorable attitudes with stakeholders and donors. Social responsibility will enhance your organization’s reputation, increase donor loyalty, and help your organization weather crises better.
It’s important for nonprofit board members to consider that business leaders are very interested in corporate social responsibility. They are also interested in partnering with nonprofit organizations that are like-minded. There’s a risk in overlooking the importance of maintaining socially responsible practices in the nonprofit world. It could cost you donations from various sources like matching gifts, in-kind gifts, corporate grants, corporate volunteering, and reciprocal marketing.
In many ways, the general public expects or demands corporations to be socially responsible. In turn, corporations expect nonprofit organizations to follow suit. Your board can be highly creative in how you implement socially responsible practices. In doing so, it gives you opportunities to make your staff and volunteers feel good, and your community is bound to notice it and reward your organization for it.
Your nonprofit will also have a competitive advantage against other nonprofits that are vying for the same funding sources. Overall, by making strides toward social responsibility, your nonprofit will enjoy a sense of greater influence and power.
How to Make Meaningful Progress Toward Being Socially Responsible
Even if your nonprofit hasn’t currently taken any steps toward being socially responsible, it’s never too late to start. You don’t have to make giant steps in that direction all at once. What’s important is to start moving in that general direction.
First, put the topic of social responsibility on your board’s agenda. Be as strategic as possible in your discussions. After thoroughly vetting the issue, set some specific goals that your board can take to institute socially responsible practices. For example, you may set a goal to start storing all documents in the cloud in the interest of eliminating paper waste.
Next, define the steps you need to take to implement your new practices. In the example above, this would entail obtaining reliable cloud storage with the assurance of redundancy. If the initiatives require initial funding, determine how to budget for them which may require getting a corporate sponsor.
To ensure that your board follows through with the defined socially responsible initiatives, set a timeline for putting your plans into motion. Make a decision about how to evaluate and measure the results of your efforts and how to communicate your progress to donors, stakeholders, and others.
Remember, it’s always good for your board to lead by example. Does your board have a commitment to reflect the behavior it wants to see in its staff and volunteers? How are you doing in that regard?
Utilizing Your Board Management System to Support Social Nonprofit Responsibility
Corporate social responsibility is increasingly becoming increasingly important in the nonprofit arena. Your BoardEffect board management system is a great way to support your nonprofit’s efforts to implement socially responsible practices. A board management portal creates efficiency for your board which is a socially responsible practice of its own.
Your board portal system gives you the tools to be strategic and deliberate in your quest to become a more socially responsible organization. It provides a secure, collaborative space where your board can work on and monitor your socially responsible initiatives, goals, and timelines.
As a nonprofit, your board has the opportunity to affect extraordinary change within your community and make a huge difference in the lives of its people. If your organization isn’t making the kind of change you’re striving for, it’s worthwhile for your board to start doing some research on how nonprofits can incorporate social responsibility into your policies and practices. Making a move in this direction requires a shift in your board’s thinking. With the right mindset and a BoardEffect board management system, your board can make it happen.