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5 CSR Trends for 2017

As one of the most newsworthy years comes to a close, we take a step back to reflect and ponder what’s to come. The social impact sector continues to be an exciting area that is growing around the world. Here are 5 trends and opportunities to look for and capitalize on in 2017.

1. The power of the employee.

We anticipate that the drive for purposeful work will continue to thrive in 2017 and that companies that put mission first and/or intentionally foster a culture that supports social intrapranuership will win the talent war. There’s tremendous opportunity to engage employees through cause and those professionals that create positive change from within will be rewarded both with valuable experience and recognition. 

2. The ‘language’ of impact will become more sophisticated.

Corporate social responsibility and it’s ‘family’ of sectors (eg corporate citizenship, social finance, etc) has progressed its communication from 1.0 to 2.0. With progression means more possibility for meaningful conversations, but it also means greater possibility for confusion. As you can tell from our recent article on 37 Search Term Ideas for Jobs with Impact, there is a lot of terminology making it challenging for new comers to understand. Regardless, the people who are working (or want to work) in impact need to be well versed in the language of impact. We also anticipate that the language will become more consistent and mainstream.

Since CSR is not a new concept, we have an opportunity to bring CSR professionals together to not just share information but develop strategies and create consistent terms/language. We need to create a way to get everyone on the same page, talking about the same things in the same way.- JEREMIAH BRENNER. MANAGER OF CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY. LOYALTYONE.

Related articles: The CSR Dictionary

3. Technology will continue to accelerate impact.

In 2017 we anticipate that technology will continue to be used to create a seamless customer experience. We believe nonprofits in particular will capitalize on this trend to focus on making giving easier- from experimental bitcoins to new software. Nonprofits like charity:water have shown us how technology can enhance the donor experience and do a better job measuring and communicating impact. Also, we foresee a growth spurt of new purpose oriented businesses leveraging new technologies to tackle big problems.

4.  CSR will become even more mainstream.

From incorporating CSR into every job description to a greater focus on social responsibility, 2017 will see CSR more in the mainstream. While it’s encouraging to see more companies embracing doing well by doing good, it doesn’t mean that all companies efforts are created equal. As such, it’s getting more difficult to differentiate between authentic programs and greenwashing. Breaking through the clutter of messaging and advertising will be a challenge but we see tremendous opportunity for professionals who can authentically tell their companies’ cause story. We also see big possibilities for those who want their companies to do more as there has never been a better time to pitch sustainability (in some form) at work.

“While it’s great that CSR has become a mainstream topic and that stakeholders now expect business to be working towards sustainability goals, it’s becoming more difficult to differentiate between CSR strategies and communications. Companies need to be creative in how, when and why they communicate their impact and find new and innovative ways to break through to their stakeholders.” – KLAUDIA WATTS. CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY MANAGER. PWC.

5. A focused effort on measurement and evaluation.

Measurement and evaluation have always been a fundamental part of the nonprofit sector but in 2017 we believe we’ll see more in depth approaches. We also believe more for-profit (in particular impact investing funds) and social enterprises will borrow lessons from the nonprofit sector and focus on measurement and communication of their efforts. Organizations that can master both and do it well not just externally but internally as well will position themselves well for success.

What do you think is in store for 2017? Is there a trend you see that we didn’t mention? Let us know.

As for us- stay tuned, we’ll have big news for you in 2017.

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Bmeaningful Editor

Bmeaningful Editor