By Susan McPherson
We’re now at that that time of the year when we all stare into our crystal balls to determine what the future holds. Since my crystal ball is as good as the next, I wanted to share some of my thoughts for the coming months. Here are my top 12 predictions for the next year:
- Vibrant exchanges around climate change and environmental sustainability will ensue leading up to the Rio Summit in June and throughout the 2012 elections campaigns.
- There will be a continued growth in employee-engagement programs. If the economy continues to falter, we will see corporations supporting NGOs and nonprofits via employee volunteer programs rather than writing checks. Organizations such as VolunteerMatch and Executives Without Borders will benefit.
- Continued globalization. No longer a practice owned by Western countries, Chinese corporations as well as growing companies from “2nd world” nations will make stronger efforts towards sustainability.
- Increase in the number of cause marketing programs. These continue to appeal to corporations as they are a way to add legitimacy to a program that can also drive revenues while helping the world (in some capacity). If done authentically, such programs can enhance a firm’s reputation in the eyes of consumers.
- The continued demise of checkbook philanthropy. This will happen in parallel with the the increases in cause marketing programs.
- A skeptical consumer. As social media platforms continue to grow beyond their pre-teen years (Twitter was only being used by 12-14 percent of the population in early 2011), and more organizations and individuals sign up, consumers will demand more transparency from corporations AND nonprofits. My firm, Fenton, along with GlobeScan conducted a survey this year, and one of the most telling factors was the need for nonprofits and NGOs to engage very directly and intimately with their donors and stakeholders.
- The rise of the CSO. As the Weinreb Group’s survey proved in September, there are more and more CSO positions being created and filled. This can only be good as it completely legitimizes the practice of corporate responsibility and ensures C-level interaction and engagement.
- CR and sustainability consulting will continue to grow, but several firms will merge. The market can only withstand so many.
- Sustainability reporting will level out, but integrated reporting will increase.
- As governments around the world continue to lose control (and economic resources), companies and NGOs will do their best to fill in the missing gaps.
- There will be more mainstream coverage of the CR market. Traditionally covered by select publications and blogs such as this one, the general media will follow the terrific path set by the Guardian and create their own sustainability or CR hubs.
- Lastly, two of the hot issues next year will continue to be the conflict minerals challenge and CR engagement at the corporate board-level and the hot-button word of choice for CR departments will be INNOVATION.