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In the Leverage Business

By Courtney Murphy, Director, Strategic Engagement, CECP

October 15, 2014–Allstate’s recent “Purple Purse” event, held at the Glass Houses in New York City, provides a glimpse into how one company uses its influence as a “Force for Good” to multiply its business and societal impact.

Allstate CEO Tom Wilson, who will speak at CECP’s upcoming Board of Boards CEO event about his collaborative efforts to address gang violence in Chicago, opened the evening with an explanation of the significance of the Purple Purse: purple is the color of domestic violence awareness and the purse represents a woman’s financial domain. As Mr. Wilson stated in his recent CNN article, money is a powerful weapon in domestic violence. Evidence shows that empowering victims with the right tools and information can help. Victims need to protect and reclaim their financial resources, rebuild their credit, and gain a complete understanding of their financial picture. And Allstate’s longstanding programs to address domestic violence draw upon one of the company’s core areas of expertise: financial services.

Through Allstate Foundation Purple Purse, Allstate is making it fashionable to talk about domestic violence and the financial abuse that traps women in abusive relationships. The program ignites fundraising for nearly 140 national, state and local domestic violence organizations. Funds raised will support life-changing financial empowerment services to help domestic violence survivors build safer lives for themselves and their families. Allstate Foundation’s Purple Purse aims to break the cycle of violence in our nation – one family at a time.

The Purple Purse Challenge is a great example of a corporate-led awareness and fundraising campaign. The Allstate Foundation seeded $650,000 to provide grants for nonprofits to do their own fundraising. The result is a campaign that raised nearly $2.5 million (including the Allstate Foundation funds). It created great visibility for the cause, leading partners, and the company.

Allstate is reaching key stakeholders by leveraging its many platforms. Actress Kerry Washington, the 2014 Purple Purse ambassador, designed a fashionable tweed “Purple Purse”, which was unveiled to flashing press bulbs, and all attendees were given a purple tassel, “to make every purse a purple purse.” Additionally, The Allstate Foundation leveraged many of the company’s corporate resources; marketing secured many placements for the Kerry Washington PSA, as well as pro-bono placements of a special Purple Purse-themed ad. Allstate flagship online and social networking sites featured the program, as did several other consumer and customer communication channels. And, Purple Purse contributed to employee and agency owner pride in the company, as evidenced by the number of participants in internal Purple Purse related activities.

At the 2014 CECP Summit, Carly Fiorina spoke about how leaders in corporate citizenship are “in the leverage business. Every dollar can and should be leveraged, and serve as a multiplier. That’s what great CSR is about.” With the Purple Pursecampaign, Allstate is doing just that: gaining recognition for the company in a growth business area of financial services, building on the company’s longstanding commitment to addressing domestic abuse through financial empowerment, attracting additional resources to leading nonprofit organizations in this area, providing capacity building tools to those participating organizations, and connecting victims of domestic violence with powerful resources.

This momentum and alignment would not be possible without the support of a CEO like Tom Wilson of Allstate. As the adage goes, “It starts at the top.” And the senior-most leaders from the world’s largest companies will convene in New York on February 23, 2015 at CECP’s Board of Boards, to discuss “Winning on Purpose.” How can more companies step up to be a “Force for Good” and use their leverage for even greater impact? Will your CEO be at the table?