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10% Solution™: Certified Social Responsibility

| Monday March 23rd, 2009 | 3 Comments

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In a time where greenwashing and causewashing are being increasingly used as PR tools to give the perception of social responsibility, it’s often difficult for consumers to distinguish whose practices are authentic. And clearly identify which companies are actually serving the greater good versus their own self interests.
10% Solution™ was built on the premise of accountability, helping companies to operate in a measurable socially responsible way with a focus on green sustainability, volunteerism and philanthropy, and the guidance required to effectively implement those efforts enterprise-wide. Their key services center around certification, acting as a seal of approval that demonstrates companies have met certain CSR requirements as follows:

  • Financial Commitment: Commit to philanthropic giving of at least 1% of sales.
  • Time Commitment: Have a managed and tracked employee volunteer program. On average each employee must contribute one hour per week of volunteer time.
  • Sustainability Commitment: Participation in formal green certification as appropriate to the company’s industry such as LEED, USDA Organic, etc.

By working with companies to connect them with local nonprofits that are relevant to their business strategy, 10% Solution facilitates sustainable partnerships that are profitable, quantifiable and certifiable.


1. How do you define for-profit philanthropy?
At 10% Solution™, we have seen that being a socially responsible company is not just the right thing to do, it’s smart business. A strategically guided philanthropy program can deeply connect businesses with the values of your customers and stakeholders, yielding increased revenue and profitability. Simply put, thoughtful philanthropic initiatives can increase profitability.
2. Please describe your philanthropic business plan and your current charitable activities.
10% Solution™ works with companies to develop well rounded, strategic corporate responsibility programs. We find local charities that make sense for our clients to partner with on a long-term basis. We also work with our clients to link their employee volunteer programs to their giving programs to create meaningful, sustainable partnerships between businesses and non-profits. In addition, we are building a socially conscious marketplace where consumers, businesses and non-profits can connect and build a new economy that supports everyone.
As a company, 10% Solution supports many nonprofits. We are on the Board and actively support Team Kids and the Heritage Museum of Orange County. We also volunteer and/or donate to Social Enterprise Institute, Working Wardrobes, Habitat OC, BAWSI, Impact Giving and Girls Inc.
3. How do you communicate the impact of these efforts to your customers?
10% Solution™ validates our clients’ giving, volunteer and green sustainability efforts with 3rd party certification. Use of the 10% Solution™ logo on products, and in marketing communications, allows our certified companies to convey a simple message of giving which allows consumers to easily make a socially conscious purchase decision.
Research shows time and time again that when consumers are given a choice between two like products, they consistently choose the product that demonstrates and highlights a social return on investment strategy (SROI). Consumers make socially conscious purchases by choosing to do business with companies that recognize the importance of transparency and sustainability. Third party validation/certification helps to make those choices easier.
4. Why do you think it’s important for companies to adopt philanthropy as part of their revenue model?
Corporate virtue via social and environmental responsibility is rewarding in more ways than one. Numerous studies have shown that there is a positive correlation between social responsibility programs and corporate financial performance. Some of the key financial benefits captured by companies with meaningful philanthropy and sustainability programs include:

  • Increased customer preference and loyalty=increased revenue and profit
  • Improved reputation among investors and suppliers
  • Able to attract and retain better employees
  • Improved management skills due to external focus
  • Green efforts=cost savings

10% Solution™ has created measurement tools to allow certified companies to measure their return on investment (ROI) for their social responsibility programs. Results can be used internally and externally to support the business case for social responsibility programs on a quantitative level.
5. What would you say is the most critical element in successfully implementing philanthropic endeavors?
Too often, we see philanthropy efforts that are unrelated to a company’s core business objectives. Companies should use a strategic and synergistic approach to corporate social responsibility, as they would with any marketing campaign. If a company starts the process by determining their target audience, objectives (trial, loyalty etc.) and key points of differentiation they want to communicate, they will develop a giving and sustainability program that motivates their customers and helps them reach their business objectives.
A 10% Solution™ we have found that a key point of a successful strategy is breaking down the silos between philanthropy, volunteerism and green sustainability. If they are brought together under one strategic umbrella, they will create an organizational entity that not only drives cost savings but can also increase revenue, support innovation and create operational efficiencies.
Name: Jamie Welsh
Title: Founder & CEO
Company: 10% Solution™
Website: http://www.10percentsolution.com
Contact: http://10percentsolution.com/about/contact.html


▼▼▼      3 Comments     ▼▼▼

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  • Dave Shires

    “serving the greater good versus their own self interests” … I think this is too polarizing of a statement and shows where “cause” folks often miss the point as much as the corporations do. It’s not about “versus”, it’s about simultaneously serving their own self interest and that of society and the environment at large – this shouldn’t be thought of as a conflict. Rather it should be a puzzle – how can you make sure what companies do isn’t hurting society? If a company is doing something harmful (take the extreme example of a landmine manufacturer) what can you do to transition that company into something less harmful?
    I’m much more impressed by a company that treats employees and customers well, has a small impact on the environment and is open and innovative than I am by a company sending x% of their income to some charity.
    Anyway, I’m rambling, but I think point #5 above starts to get to what I’m alluding to.

  • Gennefer Snowfield

    Dave,
    Thanks so much for your comment, and feedback on the post. I am in agreement that profit and good can — and should — happily co-exist, and the point of the statement you highlighted about “serving the greater good versus their own self-interests” was meant to illustrate that point.

    Paying lip service to social responsibility as a tactic for elevating your brand [without putting the action behind it] is in direct opposition to the concept of conscious and sustainable business where people and planet both benefit. And in a market where companies continue to green- and causewash their brands, it’s difficult for consumers to see the net social good of those efforts, or distinguish those who are actually committed to positively impacting the world instead of using it as a PR play.

    The fact of the matter is that the companies who continue to solely serve their own self interests will not survive in a changing landcsape where consumers and stakeholders demand that businesses operate responsibly, and will financially support the ones who do.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with making a profit. But when it’s made at the expense of the environment or fair trade practices or has a negative impact on its employees, our society — or the world — it is not only bad for the greater good, but it will ultimately be bad for their business in the long term.

  • http://www.triplepundit.com Nick Aster

    Well said Gennefer. I think you’re absolutely right about companies not surviving with a “me only” attitude. What I fear is that if we don’t get companies to see outside their edges, it’ll bring down the whole economy… wait, didn’t that just happen? :-)