Every year, in the comfy confines of oak-paneled boardrooms around the world, decisions of consequence are made by groups of predominately old white men about which causes and nonprofits will benefit from their corporate largesse.
In the best of cases, these decisions are informed by some sense of the mission or purpose of the companies in question. In many more cases, the choices reflect nonprofit names that look good on paper, aren’t controversial, or are simply the ones the company has been giving to for as long as anyone can remember. In the worst cases, charities are selected based on the chairman’s golf partners.
This antiquated portrait, and the long-standing conventions governing corporate social responsibility (CSR), are striking not only in their datedness, but in how increasingly isolated they are from what is happening in almost every other aspect of how companies are trying to engage with customers and society at large.