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Is your business a good corporate citizen?

Chris Askin, president and CEO
Community Foundation of Western Nevada

Reno businesses are adapting in response to generational, ethnic, technologic, and other evolutions in our society. Every day I read about businesses that seem to spring up from nowhere and are suddenly the big kids on the block. Is it ancillary that these firms place high value on corporate citizenship? Or do you think corporate citizenship is a fundamental component of their business plan that is essential to their success?

If you look on Google, you’ll see corporate citizenship defined as “the extent to which businesses are socially responsible for meeting legal, ethical and economic responsibilities placed on them by shareholders.” It is further, and accurately, described as, “The aim for businesses to create higher standards of living and quality of life in the communities in which they operate, while still preserving profitability for stakeholders.”

As demand for socially responsible companies increases, investors, consumers, and employees are now more willing to use their individual power to punish companies that do not share their values, and conversely, to reward companies viewed as supporting not just their employees and investors, but also the communities in which they operate. As a first step, businesses implement strategies to “give back” or encourage volunteerism in the community, but true corporate citizenship is more than that.

The Community Foundation of Western Nevada appears to be a good citizen because of our philanthropic mission, but it takes more to be an example of good corporate citizenship. For example, we work hard to be seen as transparent and open about our business and how we operate. In the information we share about our services, our leadership work, our structure, capacity, and achievements, we are steadfastly truthful, which has led to being trusted. We communicate with our donors, fund holders, stakeholders, and to everyone who is interested, about the shared value of doing business with the Community Foundation. We make sure that our donors and fund holders and their professional advisors know that by using the Community Foundation for their philanthropy, they are supporting our ability to improve the region through active community leadership activities.

We want them to know that they share in the positive impact being made in people’s lives.

We are working to grow good corporate citizenship in the region by engaging with corporations to identify and work together on our shared goals relating to improving standards of living and quality of life.

I believe that by promoting and supporting good corporate citizenship, we can have a multiplier effect that is transformative. The Community Foundation can provide avenues for companies to be outstanding corporate citizens, and to help our community understand their value.

Goals for community improvements are shared by corporate, government and philanthropic entities in the region. Outstanding local corporations are actively working to transform the community, with resources of staff time, employee volunteerism, focused local business practices, and funding.

It is time to take the next step.

By coming together to identify shared community goals, and by combining and coordinating our efforts, we can take on some of the much larger and challenging problems, many of which are standing in the way of the improvements we all wish to see in the region. When a Community Foundation partners with the business community, new and powerful connections and collaborations are built. Working together will result in the implementation of sustained long-term improvements and solutions.

A Corporate/Philanthropic partnership that works: The Silicon Valley Community Foundation “SJ Learns” Extended Learning Initiative is increasing the number of high-quality after school programs for kindergarten through 3rd grade in San Jose with support from foundations and corporate partners.

As with any business, the philanthropic impact is all about measurable results. Because the Community Foundation is in the business of efficient and impactful philanthropy, we can track and report data and metrics to show how our combined investment of time and funding is making a positive difference. There are few messages as powerful for any company as real information about people that have been helped, in a sustainable way, and how future generations of Nevada lives, will be improved.

Real results not only improve the community, but enhance a company’s reputation, increase customer loyalty, and build employee pride.

There are impressive efforts taking place locally to improve the northern Nevada communities. Many opportunities for real change are coming soon. But good corporate citizenship is a key ingredient to making the possible become a reality. Even if your company is a good corporate citizen already, I know that by working on shared goals we can do a better job of moving the needle and achieving the community goals you already support.

The Community Foundation has the honor of working with a few local corporations, but it is time to gear up, stand together in larger numbers, and recognize the timeliness of taking action now. If your company would like to explore ways to make a powerful impact through intentional community engagement, please contact the Community Foundation. 775-333-5499. Learn more at nevadafund.org.


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