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Matching CSR programmes with business goals

Headquartered in the U.S., Booz Allen Hamilton provides strategy and technology consulting services to leading Fortune 500 corporations, governments, and not-for-profits employing more than 22,500 people across the globe.
With a majority of its offices surrounding America’s capital in Washington D.C., the firm has strong connections with the U.S. government. Booz Allen currently carries out projects for clients like the Department of Defense (DoD) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Connections between Booz Allen and U.S. government clients can be traced as far back as 1940, when the U.S. Navy employed the firm to help prepare for World War II. Though Booz Allen is proud of the services it provides clients, the firm is more than just a government consultant. Through numerous corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, employees around the world use their skills to further human-conscious causes.
As Christine Hoisington, director of community partnerships, explains, “We have tremendous impact when we align our CSR efforts with our business goals. As an organization, we make it our mission to solve our client’s toughest challenges. When we apply our experience and expertise to making a difference in our communities - it’s a powerful intersection.” In other words, employees take what they know and apply it to social causes in need.
The CSR programmes at Booz Allen are as diverse as the firm’s day-to-day services. The firm deploys employees to support areas like gender-equity in science education, special-needs services, veteran’s affairs, just to name a few. And this isn’t just charity work. These are areas that closely align with its business mission. For instance, the goals of client work within many DoD offices closely align with its CSR initiatives with Wounded Warrior Mentor Program, United Service Organization, and Operation Homefront.
At Booz Allen, in addition to grant-making, CSR is tiered and usually falls into one of three categories: employee ad hoc volunteering; skills-based volunteering initiatives; or formal pro bono in-kind engagements.
Employees are passionate about the causes the company supports. Most volunteers take time out of their own schedules to engage in CSR programs and even recruit family members to join.
What makes CSR at Booz Allen different is that in addition to their strategic philanthropic alignments, they also align resources with the interests of staff. Employees help identify the programmes that will have meaningful results and lasting impacts. This empowers them to be catalysts for change; and as employees personally commit to serve socially responsible causes, the firm backs them up with corporate resources.
In 2014, Booz Allen employees volunteered a record 152,713 hours, for 1,497 not-for-profits in communities throughout the United States - as part of the firm’s 100th year “Centennial Community Challenge.”
“We don’t just write cheques to good causes, we choose to support those things that inspire our employees themselves to participate. This employee centric approach is an integral component to the Booz Allen corporate giving and philanthropy philosophy,” says Hoisington. Let’s look at some examples of how Booz Allen employees are helping.
One example comes from Operation Homefront where employees supported by moving a service-disabled soldier and his family from an apartment near a Military Medical Center to their new home. This is planned and executed by employees on their own time, and without even using their consulting skills. Another example comes from the U.S. state of North Carolina. An employee based in the state used her strategic communications skills to design marketing materials for the not-for-profit Our Military Kids.
One of Booz Allen’s major CSR partners is Compass, a non-for-profit based in Washington D.C. For more than 10 years, hundreds of employees have participated in skills-based volunteer consulting projects with Compass. The not-for-profit’s mission is to inspire the active engagement of business professionals with local causes to transform communities. Over the past few years, 50-60 volunteers from Booz Allen have served on Compass projects, providing over $5.8 million in value to the community and providing services on their own time, after work hours.
The firm became Compass’ first corporate partner in 2004. Top leadership from Booz Allen saw the value in the work Compass was providing to the not-for-profit sector, and supported employees volunteering with Compass projects. In addition to supporting Compass volunteer recruitment, Booz Allen also provides sponsorship funding to Compass, supporting the infrastructure required to manage pro bono consulting projects.
Another one of Booz Allen’s philanthropic initiatives is its pro-bono consulting work. Teams of employees provide in-kind consulting services to not-for-profit organizations using the same type of approach they would use for clients. These projects range in length from a few months to two years or more. For example, a Booz Allen team finished a two-year project with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). The team developed an evaluation tool for the organization to measure the impact of the services they offer to those grieving the death of a loved ones serving in the Armed Forces. Then they successfully tested the use of this tool, providing $200,000 in consulting services and a valuable way for the organization to more efficiently meet its goals.
Booz Allen was founded on the belief that helping its clients succeed requires a human touch, and the founding partners pushed each employee to have a sense of responsibility and support his or her community.
Working to have a positive impact in communities is a core value at Booz Allen, and their work with not-for-profits—particularly those that support veterans and wounded warriors—gives them a deeper connection to our clients. “The Department of Defense is one of the firm’s biggest clients, and there is no better way to feel personally connected to the Department’s mission than to spend time with wounded warriors and military families,” says Hoisington.
It’s not just junior staff who volunteer at Booz Allen. Four years ago, the firm launched an innovative program that combines leadership development with community service for a select group of senior managers. Booz Allen’s “Leadership Excellence for Senior Associates” programme combines career development with philanthropy.
The programme is offered to top-performing Senior Associates who are put into teams and matched, by Booz Allen partner Compass, with regional and national not-for-profits in need of strategic guidance. The teams then spend four months providing consulting services, ultimately resulting in a set of recommendations for the not-for-profits to use to address specific problem areas. Each of these projects is valued at more than $100,000 and there are typically seven projects and seven recipient not-for-profits chosen per year.
The relationship between Booz Allen and partner not-for-profits is symbiotic and mutually beneficial; it’s not charity. “This way, our community outreach work is also an effective training tool and allows employees’ to develop even higher-level consulting and management skills,” says Hoisington. “In addition, participating Senior Associates have found value in being able to interact with the not-for-profit executives and board members, some of whom are luminaries in their fields and potentially good connections for Booz Allen’s business areas.” Networking at its finest.
The benefits to Booz Allen from CSR programmes, are incalculable, says Hoisington. “It makes business sense because much of our philanthropic work aligns with the interest of our employees and our clients – the Department of Defense, for example. It means that as well as fulfilling a meaningful role for the company, our employees are also learning more about the people and programmes they are working with and the needs of the end users. This gives us an important perspective and allows us to be smarter and more rounded for our clients.” 

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