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The Season of Giving and Giving Back

By Daryl Brewster, CEO, CECP

December 14, 2015–Holidays are a time we enjoy with family and friends celebrating the traditions we hold dear. Many of us look for opportunities at home and work to give back this season. At CECP, our organization is dedicated to enabling and encouraging business as a force for good in our society. The companies we work with are the world’s largest and have a combined revenue that would create the 3rd biggest economy in the world. And these companies are giving at record levels – reaching $18.5 billion in 2014 – to support communities and to tackle the challenges and issues of our time.

CECP has been committed to growing the role and impact of business in #GivingTuesday, a day to celebrate giving that was created in response to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Our organization is a founding partner of #GivingTuesday and see this initiative as a valuable opportunity for companies to create individual programs while still being a part of this global movement.

This year a record 70 CECP-affiliated companies joined #GivingTuesday representing 9 million employees, an increase of 2 million people over last year. More of these employees were galvanized through company initiates to be active participants in 2015. Company #GivingTuesday programs included volunteerism and skills-based initiatives for employees to directly give back to communities with their time and expertise. The combined support from the business community of #GivingTuesday was a driving force in the global growth and success of the movement.

The growth in the number of companies participating only tells half the business story about #GivingTuesday. Many company initiatives in 2015 evolved to deliver greater impact, with distinct trends emerging this year that echo recent analysis on corporate societal investment in Giving in Numbers, from CECP.

Beyond the trend of increased employee participation, we saw more CECP-affiliated companies develop programs in cross-functional teams that incorporated other parts of the business such as innovation, not traditionally focused on corporate giving. Companies with this business-wide perspective created engaging programs for consumers in retail settings and calls-to-action for employees, which increased participation, dollars raised, and goods or services donated.

Another consistent theme in 2015 that mirrored CECP research on corporate giving was companies applying their unique skills and expertise to their giving efforts. Technology was one of the strongest sectors to leverage their skills this way. Some companies focused on providing the platforms that allowed record levels of participation and donations while others supplied measurement and analysis capabilities that fed #GivingTuesday real-time information on impact. This technology was a valuable enabler for the movement to reach participation in 71 countries and connect with key demographic groups like Millennials who had a 1-in-3 participation rate this year.

Social media was also a critical channel to reach all audiences this #GivingTuesday, and corporate initiatives leveraged this to encourage employees, consumers, and the broader public to drive awareness and support. Innovative corporate programs included campaigns allowing employees and supporters to use their social networks to amplify funding with matching donation challenges among their friends and families.

At CECP we look back at the role of companies in #GivingTuesday as emblematic of how business is a force for good in society: connecting with communities, engaging with employees, and creating the innovative programs to improve society. Looking ahead to 2016, we at CECP see an even more vital role for business in the process of developing solutions to meet the challenges of our time and committing the resources needed to affect the mutually desired positive change.

Daryl Brewster is the CEO of CECP, a coalition of 150 global CEOs who believe that societal advancement is an essential measure of business performance. Brewster has nearly 30 years of executive experience, including as an officer for several Fortune 500 companies, the turnaround CEO of a publicly-traded company, and the head of five multi-billion dollar business units.