The Corporate Philanthropist: Stakeholders' Expectations of Business - Page 10
Private Foundation Perspective: Shared Responsibility, Renewed Patriotism
At the Ford Foundation, our goal is to work with all sectors of our economy to improve lives and create opportunity. Many of the issues the Ford Foundation strives to impact have substantive implications for businesses around the world and could benefit from their constructive engagement. These goals include ensuring that societies remain stable by encouraging democratic values and challenging corruption and abuse.
Grantmakers and nonprofits need to look at business as an essential partner. Corporations and grantmakers alike need to be rigorous and should hold themselves accountable for results. We need to understand the challenges, develop clear paths for addressing them, and ensure that the grants we make represent the best available approaches for meeting clearly defined objectives and providing at-scale solutions. We also need the modesty to understand that without collaboration between business and government, the likelihood of success is diminished.
Local versus Systemic Needs
It is critical to look at how larger systems influence local conditions. What seems like a local problem is often the local manifestation of a systemic issue. For example, a working mother goes to the food pantry because she can’t make ends meet. It may appear that keeping the local pantry stocked is the solution, but the issue may be today’s minimum wage, which is 30 percent below where it was 40 years ago. Despite working 58 hours every week, she earns below the poverty level for a family of four.
The basic American value that allows someone working an honest 40 hours a week to lift his or her family out of poverty needs to be restored. In order to do this, grantmakers and nonprofits need to work with government and business to address the systemic nature of many social challenges.
Innovation and Scalability
Grassroots, local innovation has often been the basis of scalable impact. We have to find ways to bring scale to the grassroots. What could be worse than knowing a solution exists and keeping it from achieving an impactful scale?
For example, after two decades of local innovation, many charter schools have proven that even our poorest and most disadvantaged children can compete academically and can exceed the performance of our most privileged children. The challenge now is to take those countless, scattered examples of charter school excellence and institutionalize the lessons learned to bring them to the 98 percent of children who don’t have access to charter schools.
Commitment to Democratic Values
Business, government, and nonprofits have a shared responsibility, one that can only be realized if we begin a dialogue on what it means to be stewards of a great nation in our generation. We must collectively restore the shared ethics and values that drove this country to greatness over the last 250 years. These values are the bedrock of our democracy: the shared belief that education isn’t an expense, but an investment; that hard work needs to be rewarded at all levels of the economic ladder; and that immigrants who come to America to work provide immense value.
Our society and societies around the world face challenges of an unprecedented scale and complexity. To address this new generation of challenges, we need to come together with a shared sense of responsibility and a renewed sense of patriotism.
The Ford Foundation supports visionary leaders and organizations working on the frontlines of social change worldwide.
CECP asks today’s business leaders to consider:
- What can corporations and private foundations learn from each other?
- Are the due diligence mechanisms applied to traditional business investments also applicable to community investment?
- In an era of increased global commerce, what does it mean for a company to be patriotic? Can a global standard of values replace traditionally nationalistic ones?