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Social Media and CSR: Are We There Yet? New White Paper

Social media is almost a given. With over 141 million Americans on Facebook and over 600 million worldwide, according to, 31 million on Twitter, and 100 million on LinkedIn, it is rare to convene a group of adults and not find someone who has a quick way to share with their friends online.

This is a population that, in their home lives, is actively posting their status messages, information, and their passion for causes via social networks on a daily basis. When they go to work, the sharing is often more limited, but we are starting to see good examples of large companies using social media tools as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts.

Howard Greenstein and Tom Watson have authored a new white paper, sponsored by the JK Group and published in cooperation with the Heyman Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising at NYU. In this white paper – Wired Workforce, Networked CSR -  we studied several large American corporations who are using social media and who have found ways to involve employees, customers and stakeholders as they seek to achieve their CSR goals.

We found that:

1. Companies are more comfortable using social media tools internally, but they’re waiting for external adoption by marketing before moving ahead to use them in CSR type efforts.
2. Employees seek choice and appreciate democratic participation.
3. Leadership is required to ensure continued participation in corporate giving campaigns, since employee participation is decreasing.
4. Both social media and traditional communications methods are used in employee giving campaigns and external outreach to communities.
5. Formal feedback loops for social media are the exception rather than the rule.

We also noted that there are different levels of commitment companies can make to using social media. As an example, some are taking advantage of intranet tools to allow employees to share and attract others to their causes on one end, while others actively encourage employees to alert their online connections of campaigns and request participation. Companies that are in what are traditionally regulated industries such as healthcare and finance are actively using social media as part of their CSR outreach, carefully finding the line between compliance and campaign. And some are stretching the boundaries – finding ways that their CSR efforts are part of their marketing, branding and core business efforts.

We invite you to read and comment on this paper. We know we are just scratching the surface of the efforts of companies across the world, and we consider this paper the beginning of a conversation around this topic, and not the definitive final word on the subject.

This paper was released on Friday April 29th, 2011 (Link to Press Release) at the JK Forum on Philanthropy in Princeton, NJ.

Download – Wired Workforce, Networked CSR

Read it here:
Wired Workforce Networked CSR Final

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