Each year, Points of Light honors The Civic 50, a group of 50 private and public companies that demonstrate excellent corporate citizenship. An annual survey measures how companies invest their resources and mobilize their employees to advance the common good. The results highlight best practices and honor those that have turned a sincere desire to serve their communities into well designed business practices.


Continuing the trend of the 2016 Civic 50, initial reports of the 2017 Civic 50 show that U.S. companies are becoming more heavily invested in their communities’ well being.  While the full report for the 2017 Civic 50 has yet to be published, nonprofits should take note of the initial reports.


According to insights gleaned from the 2017 Civic 50 survey, nonprofits should no longer expect businesses to be happy with simply writing checks; rather, nonprofits should expect businesses to engage their resources and employees in such a way that the nonprofit becomes a part of the business’ brand identity.


What does The Civic 50 Survey examine?

The survey, conducted by True Impact, examines American companies and honors the most community-minded companies with revenues of over $1 billion. Community-mindedness is measured according to four factors:


Investment: To what extent does the company invest money, in-kind gifts, and cash donations in community programs? To what extent does it engage its employees in community programs?


Integration: How well does a company integrate its community engagement into its business practices?


Institutionalization: How well do company policies and procedures cultivate an environment conducive to community engagement?


Impact: How does the company measure the outcomes of its business and community engagement?


The Civic 50 winners are honored at Points of Light’s Conference on Volunteering and Service, and they are recognized as providing “a framework for good corporate citizenship.”


Should nonprofits pay attention to the Civic 50 report?



The full report for the 2017 Civic 50 has yet to be published, but initial reports show some important information, which nonprofits should read closely.


Investment: 45% of grants from companies come in the form of in-kind donations, volunteers, or multi-year pledges. This is a sharp increase from 2016, and it indicates that companies are showing a strong desire to diversify the way they support nonprofits and their communities. Nonprofit leaders should brainstorm creative ways that local and national companies could support their cause, and begin designing a plan to forge meaningful partnerships.


Integration: The top four business functions supported by the Civic 50 are employee engagement, diversity and inclusion, marketing/PR, and skill development. Nonprofits should notice that businesses make employee engagement a priority; many of them have robust employee volunteer programs that come with attractive perks, such as volunteer grants and paid release time. Comparing the honorees of the 2017 Civic 50 with the employers of nonprofits’ volunteers might reveal connections, which would provide nonprofits with a starting point for strengthening mutually beneficial relationship.


Institutionalization: 64% of Civic 50 companies provide employees with paid release time to volunteer.  62% of Civic 50 companies include community engagement in workplace performance reviews, which is a whopping 50% increase from 2016. Volunteer managers should closely track volunteers whose employers offer paid release time to volunteer, as well as other perks, working carefully to manage and maintain a positive and gracious relationship with the volunteers’ employers.


Impact: About 65% of companies measure their business impact of their community engagement on diversity and inclusion. 76% measure the social outcomes of their volunteer programs. Nonprofits should note companies’ increasing interest in formally measuring the results of their own community engagement programs. This signifies companies’ strong commitment to engaging in efforts that advance the common good. Companies no longer want to donate cash and move on with their business; they want to make a nonprofit’s cause part of their business.


What are the key takeaways from the initial 2017 Civic 50 report?


The information contained in the initial 2017 report, as well as the full 2016 reports and supporting resources, provide a wealth of insight that can guide nonprofits’ strategic planning over the next year. Nonprofits should keep three key points in mind:


Developing Partnerships with Businesses: Nonprofits should identify those with which they have a natural and strategic connection and think critically of how their partnership could advance the business even as it advances and accelerates the common good.


Engaging with Company Employees: Nonprofits should find ways that company employees can donate their skills to the organization in regular, meaningful ways. 26% of Civic 50 companies’ volunteer hours are skills-based, a percentage that has climbed from 20% since 2014.


Measuring Company Impact: Companies are becoming increasingly focused on measuring how their investments of time, people, and resources impact their communities. Nonprofits should think critically about how they can aid and assist companies in measuring and marketing their impact.


Although the final report for the 2017 Civic 50 winners has not yet been published, the full report of the 2016 Civic 50 is available, and it contains statistics, information, and essays, which nonprofits will find insightful.

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