Corporate Social Responsibility—Good for Society, Good for Business

New or small businesses may think of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs as something belonging in the domain of larger companies, but that is not necessarily true. There are many ways that small or mid-sized companies can develop social partnerships that also make good business sense.

Recently, the Business Council of Westchester held its first Thompkins Mahopac Bank Power Breakfast, a panel titled “Corporate Social Responsibility – Social Partnerships that Make Good Business Sense: Part II,” moderated by Jennifer Flowers Founder & CEO, Accreditation Guru, Inc. (AG). The CSR topic was brought back by popular demand, as in 2017 Jennifer moderated part 1, “Corporate Social Responsibility Done Right,” which broke attendance records for a Power Breakfast. Both programs featured a distinguished panel of local business leaders and drew well over 100 attendees. Key themes discussed included factors in determining a social responsibility program that makes sense for one’s business (with a focus on small and mid-sized); a lively discussion about promotion of efforts; and the effects that socially responsibility programs have on company culture, identity, and employee retention.

One issue that was discussed during the above-mentioned CSR panels was how smart partnering between for-profits and nonprofits is one way to create value for both the business and society simultaneously. Management time and resources are limited, so the greatest opportunities will come from areas where the business significantly interacts with—and thus can have the greatest impact on—society. Finding the right nonprofits to collaborate with will be those that benefit from your core business activities and capabilities—and that the company can benefit from in turn. Many mid- to smaller- sized businesses choose to collaborate with agencies in their hometown or county, thus focusing on impacting the community closest to them.

Some companies approach CSR as a way to demonstrate commitment to various causes, which can improve the public image of an organization of any size. The increased media coverage that can come from corporate involvement in the community may enhance relationships with existing clients and go a long way to attracting new ones. Of course, there are also the intangibles—the positive changes in corporate culture that come from a workforce that feels good about what they do in and out of the office. With the visibility of actual involvement, companies large and small have the ability to improve their name recognition, their brand recognition, as well as improving the public perception of the company as a whole.

Businesses often find that by having a CSR program, it will, in turn, lead to higher employee engagement. As Forbes reported in September of 2017, when Millennials are considering applying for a job, their top priority is what the company sells and/or produces.  But beyond compensation and benefits, what matters most to them is the company’s work culture, involvement with causes, office environment and attention to diversity. Millennials are increasingly engaging with causes and tend to believe that a company that is committed to socially responsible causes will care about treating them well too, thus increasing their loyalty to the company.

Here at Accreditation Guru, corporate social responsibility lies at the heart of who we are as a professional, service-oriented organization. AG is committed to volunteering its professional services (including nonprofit governance expertise and guidance), offering financial support, and volunteering for fundraising and other sustaining events, to a variety of local nonprofit associations as a way of giving back to the community and, most especially, lending a hand to those in need. AG also encourages all team members to give back and volunteer within their own communities.

In keeping with our core focus of working with human service agencies across North America, in 2017 AG proudly joined Westchester Companies for Kids (WC4K) in supporting Westchester Children’s Association, whose vision helps every Westchester child be healthy, safe and prepared for life’s challenges.

Accreditation Guru also supports the Northeast STEM Starter Academy at Mount Vernon (NSSA).  NSSA’s mission is to expose at-risk students to state-of-the-art science and technology resources and provide them with inspiration and pathways for eventual careers in the STEM sectors.

Never think that your organization is too new or too small to give back in a meaningful way. There are numerous opportunities and benefits to doing good for society while also being good for business. You just need to find the right fit and then get started!


2017 Blog Recap

Did you miss any of our Accreditation Guru blog posts during the past year? We published nearly 25 informative articles on topics ranging from accreditation preparation to nonprofit management to issues affecting the behavioral healthcare field. Below we have highlighted some of our most popular posts from 2017 that may be worth a second look for your organization as you beginning planning for the New Year. Thank you for being loyal followers in 2017. We look forward to providing you with more informative posts in 2018! Here’s to the happiest of New Years!


Nonprofit Management and Boards of Directors

Behavioral Healthcare

AG’s own Corporate Social Responsibility

And don’t forget our popular series “Accreditation in Action,” which highlights organizations across the country and how they benefit from being nationally accredited.

Happy reading!

Add “Donate Now” Button on Facebook in Time for #GivingTuesday

The giving season is right around the corner and now is the time to be sure that your nonprofit is ready spread your mission and acquire those much needed donations this holiday season!

Celebrating its fourth year on December 1, #GivingTuesday will bring people and organizations from around the world together for one common purpose – to celebrate generosity and to give. Founded in 2012 by New York’s 92nd Street Y, in collaboration with the United Nations Foundation, #GivingTuesday now engages more than 30,000 organizations globally through the power of social media and collaboration. According to, since the first #GivingTuesday, online donations on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving have seen an increase of more than 470%! Nonprofits cannot afford not to get in on this extraordinary opportunity.

One way to do this is to take advantage of Facebook’s recently launched “Donate Now” call-to-action button available (free of charge) for nonprofits to add to their Facebook pages and link ads that will connect donors directly with an organization’s donation page, making it faster and easier to donate than ever before. Many nonprofits already realize and take advantage of the value of a strong social following; by adding the “Donate Now” option, nonprofits are able to more readily turn online engagement into meaningful monetary support.

Here are our tips for making the most of these two giving opportunities:

  • Planning and preparation are key – assemble your fundraising team and begin planning now to inspire generosity
  • Add a #GivingTuesday message to your nonprofit’s website, Facebook page and other social media outlets to build momentum and reach all of your followers
  • Use the #GivingTuesday hashtag in your nonprofit’s Tweets – this will make your organization discoverable to anyone searching #GivingTuesday
  • Don’t consider #GivingTuesday as a one-day event – begin December 2 by connecting with your newly acquired and existing donors sharing the results of their generosity and how it will impact those you serve – in other words, create goodwill
  • Always engage and thank your valued donors – not just on #GivingTuesday – but the whole year through; long-term relationships can last a lifetime
  • While monetary donations are crucial for nonprofits, we can’t underscore the importance of volunteer efforts – encourage donors to get creative and give time for volunteering; those who can’t afford a monetary donation may be inspired to contribute in this way, making it a win-win for everyone involved
  • Reference your “Donate Now” button in your Facebook and other social media communications and dedicate specific content that make users aware of the button and perhaps how donations will be used
  • Pay attention to who is taking advantage of the “Donate Now” option; as with any campaign, information is key and analyzing and understanding who these givers are will go a long way in helping your nonprofit build sustaining donors

Free tools and resources for #GivingTuesday can be found at


Give Thanks and Appreciation to Your Valued Donors and Volunteers

During this season of giving nonprofit organizations have a unique opportunity – and responsibility – to applaud the generosity we have been given throughout the past year and to celebrate the humanity that seems especially prominent during this holiday season.

We know that our donors and volunteers are an invaluable part of our work – but are they truly aware of the impact they make and of our gratitude for their generosity? This season, move beyond the standard form letters and cards that so often go unnoticed and thank them…for being them! The kind of folks who recognize a need and give to important causes.

Be innovative! Be passionate! Your goal is to make your supporters feel something wonderful!

Before you begin:

  1. Get excited! Turn on that holiday music and order up an espresso – your passion and enthusiasm will come through no matter the method of communication you choose.
  2. Remember – give your donors and volunteers credit – not you! Your supporters are the heroes; your goal is to tell them everything that they have made possible. Make them shine!

Here are a few of our favorite ideas to get you started:

Include your supporters in a custom-made video.

There are plenty of cost-effective video tools at your disposal: vSnap, GoPro or even your smartphone will do a great job. The idea is to include your donors and volunteers (and the clients you serve, if allowable) in this creative process – and will assuredly be something they remember (and share with other potential supporters!) for a long time to come.

Take a look at the following example from One Justice. Their message was delivered via handwritten posters held and read by actual supporters of the organization who were each asked to record the few moments of video and send it back to One Justice. Then, iMovie was used to put it all together and the completed project was shared with every supporter as a personal ‘thank you’! Oh, and the participants were not told the premise of the project, so they were also surprised to receive this personalized thank you ‘gift’!

View One Justice ‘You Did It! Thank You!’ video here.

Have agency employees donate their time doing something special during the season in honor of a specific donor, volunteer, or group.

  1. Do you have a supporter who has a loved one in a nursing home or a children’s hospital? Gather a group of employees and visit those individuals, performing some holiday carols and delivering some holiday cheer just for them!
  2. Does someone have a loved one serving in the military? If your agency serves children, have the children create handmade cards that can be sent to that service man or woman as well as others who are serving and unable to be with their families for the holidays.
  3. Ask employees to bake a dozen or two homemade treats and deliver them (along with a thank you note) to the local police, fire, or first responder’s station in the area in the name of your donor or volunteer.

What are some of your favorite ways to thank your donors and volunteers? Please share your ideas!

Using #GivingTuesday to Spread Your Message

#GivingTuesday is a day when people and organizations from all over the globe come together to give back. On the first Tuesday following Thanksgiving, people around the world will unite for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give. For nonprofit agencies that want to spread the word about their mission and secure sustainable donors, this is an opportunity not to be missed.

Founded in 2012 by New York’s 92nd Street Y in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, #GivingTuesday has become a global movement that has engaged over 10,000 organizations worldwide. Free to all nonprofit agencies, #GivingTuesday will provide you with all of the resources you need to take advantage of this extraordinary day.

Here are some examples of how your nonprofit can benefit from participating in #GivingTuesday:

  • Launch a new fundraiser or giving platform with national/international press to expand and generate greater funds
  • Celebrate efforts and announce totals on #GivingTuesday
  • Send online and direct marketing communications to donor community to inspire early giving
  • Activate your social media constituency – or start one! – for a social media campaign
  • Get a matching grant or offer something new (a new video or photos) for donors
  • Create a volunteer day for giving back in your community

The possibilities truly are endless. For additional information, visit

How do you plan to participate in #GivingTuesday? Please share your ideas here.

Supporting and Appreciating the Essential Nonprofit Donor

Nonprofit organizations put forth much effort, and often invest significant resources, into soliciting and maintaining a steady stream of contributions from committed donors. However, once the donations are received, what many nonprofits often overlook is the necessary practice of appropriately showing appreciation for and valuing the donors themselves. By overlooking this key component, nonprofits are depriving themselves of an important perspective. As public agencies dependent upon external donations, the better we understand and meet the needs of our public stakeholders, the more likely our chances of establishing the long-term donor relationships that are paramount to the successes of our organizations.

When a donor decides to contribute to your organization and its mission, it is often because he or she feels that the services you provide are helping to fill an essential gap in the community or perhaps there is a more personal connection to the services you provide. Whatever the reason, the donor specifically chose to support your agency. Therefore, donors want to feel a personal connection with the clients that were and continue to be aided by your organization.

First, it is important to take a close look at how your agency currently thanks its donors for their contributions and how it goes about fostering donor relationships to keep them dedicated to your organization’s mission for the long-term. Staggering statistics from the 2012 Fundraising Effectiveness Survey have reported that for every $100 of new funds raised, $100 was lost due to downgraded or lapsed gifts. Further, for every new 100 donors secured, nonprofits lost 107 donors through attrition. Appropriate and thoughtful action is required on behalf of the nonprofit agency to stay way ahead of this astounding trend.

Once your organization has a solid understanding of its current (and potential) donor base, it is time to focus on the needs of the donors to begin building those vital long-term relationships. Often donors want to feel a personal connection with clients that have benefited from the nonprofits that they have supported. Consider providing a detailed update (as well as appeals) rather than simply relying on short form letters or tweets. Building that personal connectivity to your mission fosters long-term dedication.

Share progress with your donors, no matter how small. What matters to them is that they feel like they are making a difference. Show them the little things, too, that are just as important to advancing your cause and improving the lives of others. Perhaps a personal testimonial or an impressive statistic will make a lasting impression. Send a special invitation – without soliciting for another donation. Perhaps to your next free event, a behind-the-scenes tour, or simply a volunteer activity that will connect them personally with those that directly benefit from their continued contributions. The possibilities are endless and, rest assured, the little creative effort it takes on behalf of your organization to reach out to your donors will come back to both you and your clients for many years to come.

National Conference on Volunteering and Service #NCVS

This year marked my fourth attendance at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service (NCVS), hosted by Points of Light. Held in Washington, DC NCVS once again brought together nearly 5,000 volunteer managers and service activists. For anyone interested in volunteering and promoting social good, I highly recommend NCVS as an educational (and fun!) conference.

NCVS always ties in the political side of volunteering and service. This year we heard from conservative political strategist Karl Rove and liberal strategist Donna Brazile, Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett and various members of the US Congress. My personal favorite (besides Ms. Brazile, who is hilarious!) was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie discussing the critical importance of volunteers who came from all corners to help New Jersey recover from Hurricane Sandy. As Gov. Christie said, “Service does not know partisanship.”

John Legend2

Education activist and Grammy Award-winner John Legend was on hand to speak about civic duty and to sing for those sitting around the tables at Target’s Sunday Supper. What a great performance!

One America is an exciting, yearlong campaign led by Points of Light (with founding support from Chase). The campaign will bring together rivals in politics, entertainment and sports in order to inspire millions of Americans to unite in service to their communities. The theory is to illustrate that rivals can successfully put aside their differences and together make a positive difference. Think Leno vs. Letterman or Yankees vs. Red Sox or Coke vs. Pepsi. Check out the video to learn more and vote for the rivals you would like to see become partners for change.

Find a full conference wrap-up here.

I’m looking forward to seeing my many NCVS friends and to making new friends next year when the conference is held in Atlanta, Georgia. Here’s to #NCVS2014!