Make it stand out: How to create and implement leading Community Involvement programs

This chapter is the heart of the book, as it will be your flagship Community Involvement programs that will have the biggest societal impact and will win you the most stakeholder recognition.

It is no accident that this chapter is at the center of the book – a lot of what you need to create and implement for leading Community Involvement programs is covered in the chapters before and after this one.

In this chapter, we will introduce in detail:

•            Identifying your community partner organizations

•            Developing your joint project

•            Designing an initial project plan

•            Considering which markets take priority for implementation

•            Working out costs and who will pay for what

•            Considering the legal framework and project governance

We will engage with each of these aspects and then with managing the project, including a program spanning several countries. Once your implementation is underway, we will remind you about involving employees, measuring and evaluating your program, and leveraging results in your communications.

We will then share with you some advice on:

•            Scaling up successful programs

•            Deciding whether to end a program

What can a leading program look like?

Today, it is commonly accepted that a leading Community Involvement program should keep as close as possible to a company’s core competences. High-profile Community Involvement programs are about shaping the future. If you want to create a leading program, you cannot think small. You cannot do what everybody else is doing. Your aim needs to be to “change the game.”

Some examples of leading Community Involvement programs introduced in this chapter are from Intel and IBM, Microsoft, Nokia, Lafarge, Unilever and Accenture. We are also introducing to you the concept of social entrepreneurship, expemplified by the approach of two leading organizations in this field: Ashoka and Grameen.

The field is continuously developing, and there is a call to action for companies to take their Community Involvement to the next level. That call is coming from informed stakeholders such as Corporation 20/20, CSR Europe and the European Commission. They are asking companies to avoid isolation or fragmentation by each running their individual programs. Underlining the importance of cooperation between all players in society in joint efforts, the call to business is to form new alliances to take effective societal solutions to scale together – and be recognized for it.

New solutions to global challenges will need to be found, and these challenges can only be addressed through close cooperation both across and within sectors, and by taking shared responsibility. The right ideas at the right time can be contagious and lead to systemic change. Any company can become such an agent for change and improvement. The business benefit is for your company to be seen as a true leader, enhancing your business in the process.