Are there EA-aligned organizations working on improving the effectiveness of corporate social responsibility/corporate giving strategies?

by mss743 min read7th Jan 20216 comments

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Workplace activism
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Written by Saad Siddiqui

Background

I am working on some research (a mix of desk-research, surveys and interviews) to find out more about corporate giving.  I'm doing this research to assess whether shifting corporate donations towards more effective charities might be a worthwhile thing to attempt, and if so, what form I should try that out in.  By worthwhile, I mainly mean to assess the potential return on resources, by considering how much a given solution (e.g. running an advisory service) would cost against the amount of impact generated by shifting donations to more impactful charities.  


I'm currently attempting to validate the problem in the following ways: 

  1. Landscape Survey: Figuring out what organizations are already trying to change corporate giving behavior, how they're trying to do it and whether/how they're successful.
  2. Literature Review: What the academic literature say about models of corporate giving/what typically motivates companies to donate
  3. Survey of CSR Managers:  One of the main pieces of research I'm hoping to conduct is a survey of corporate social responsibility (CSR) managers in the UK (and possibly other countries) to find out how they select charities for their organization's CSR strategy, what makes them change charities, and how long they typically stick to a charity (amongst other things). The UK has a professional body of CSR managers (Institute of Corporate Social Responsibility) and I'm hoping to distribute the survey through them

My aim with this post is to get feedback from people in the EA community about the general idea, the research method, and (as advertised) whether anyone knows of any EA-aligned organizations already trying to shift corporate donations towards more effective giving. I spoke to some people at the EA Student Conference and they were incredibly helpful, and thought that casting a wider net for feedback through the forum could be useful. 

Landscape Survey Thus Far

So far, I've come across several organizations that operate in this space. They tend to fall within a few categories. My categorization isn't the best, but it's what I have for now. 

First, there are advisory/consulting companies that offer personalized services to companies, helping them select charities that align with their CSR. Some public relations companies offer this service as well because CSR is sometimes viewed as a marketing/PR issue. I haven't spoken to people working at these companies yet, so don't know how they select or recommend charities to companies. 

Then there are a number of charity evaluators, charity rating agencies and the like, who point out very bad charities and highlight which charities are transparent and cost-effective. 

In the last category, there are organizations that offer a more complex mix of products. An example is the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), which provides companies with an online account they can place CSR budgets in provisionally, while they hammer out their strategies. The money placed in the CAF is already tax-deductible, and CAF provides some kind of advisory service to companies to help them figure out how to give as well. 

I'm aware of some EA-aligned organizations that exist across these categories:

Advisory/Consulting 

  1. Longview Philanthropy

Charity Evaluators/Ratings: 

  1. GiveWell
  2. Animal Charity Evaluators
  3. SoGive
  4. ImpactMatters (now part of Charity Navigator)
  5. GivingGreen

Others 

These organizations focus on specific sub-sections of the population who can potentially donate a lot: 

  1. High-Impact Athletes
  2. Founders Pledge
  3. Raising for Effective Giving

Next Steps 

If the problem area turns out to be potentially worthwhile, and there isn't already an EA-aligned organization in this space, then I'd like to consider starting up a non-profit to work on this. 

I would be really grateful for feedback on the idea and links to EA-aligned organisations working on making corporate giving more effective. I am also looking for collaborators for this project if there's anyone keen on doing this for a couple of hours a week as a volunteer for the next 3 months. I can be reached at mss74@cam.ac.uk 

Thank you for reading through this post! 

Many many thanks to all the people in the EA community who have already spoken to me and given me feedback on this idea over the past few months. 

This post was edited on 14/01/2021 to include GivingGreen under the list of Charity Evaluators, as suggested in the comments.

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6 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 3:41 PM
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Will send you an email :-) you might also be interested in my post here, although it's only tangentially-related

Would love to touch base on this, let's chat.

I had a project doing some scoping related to this called innovationsinfundraising.org -- see especially the links HERE

Hi David, thanks for your comment! The source you've linked looks really interesting and relevant. I'd be happy to speak to you sometime next week. Could you book a slot here? https://calendly.com/mss74/30min

I've reached out to your email. We are working on a similar project in The Netherlands with EAN.

Giving Green should be added to that list of EA-aligned charity evaluators - they provide recommendations for high-impact giving in the climate change space (which is probably particularly helpful given how much corporate giving/CSR is focused on climate change)! 

They also state on their website that they "provide bespoke consulting services to organizations who want to bring more data and evidence to their pro-climate activities" - so they might be able to provide research tailored to different companies needs, or to your new nonprofit!

Thank you for your comment and this reference! I wasn't aware of this group. I've edited the post to include them!!