In celebration of the ten-year anniversaries of three major corporate citizenship campaigns, here are ten qualities that a built-to-last sustainable citizenship program must have:
1. Brand Focus: Deeply understand your organization, including goals, assets and challenges. Select a cause that is aligned with your corporate goals and is core to the brand.
2. Connected Leadership: The most powerful programs are “leader-led.” Consumers want to see values-based leadership from companies and brands, with a long-term commitment to addressing societal issues.
3. Thoughtful Construction: Start with program depth versus scale. Build authentic and credible long-term plans and strategies that maximize the impact your investment can make.
4. Integrated Measurement: That which gets measured gets done. Incorporate measurement into all phases of program design and activation, with balanced metrics for social and business impacts.
5. Employee Involvement: Whenever possible, turn employees and/or volunteers into ambassadors. Include them in program development as well as execution.
6. Multidimensional Engagement: Partner with NGOs for credibility and content; with customers, consumers, communities and others to fuel movements to advance the issue.
7. Local Customization: Powerful and lasting initiatives must have programmatic components and partner options that can be tailored for local adoption.
8. Shared Ownership: Create degrees of freedom for individual consumer/volunteer activation within a set framework, in order to give appropriate amounts of “ownership” away. Enabling others to act independently can build bridges, passion and impact.
9. Authentic Narration: Storytelling is key to building emotion and engagement. Find the stories internally (from your employees, volunteers) and externally (from beneficiaries, consumers) and tell them viscerally and visually.
10. Continuous Innovation: Constantly evolve program elements to stay relevant, maintaining careful focus on your program’s original vision and goals. Remember that goals are long-term, strategies mid-term and tactics short-term.