New Survey Reveals That Employees Believe Companies Should Join the Fight against Global Poverty
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
You might consider the fact that more than a billion people in the world live on less than a dollar a day motivation enough for every profitable company to contribute to the fight against extreme global poverty. But “contributing” – while seemingly simple – becomes staggeringly complex when terms like “strategic philanthropy,” “accountability” and “measurement” are involved.
As more and more companies design and implement philanthropic programs with an eye toward enhancing the bottom line, motivating them to fight global poverty can be a challenge. Giving to the so-called “bottom of the pyramid” – those living in extreme poverty – doesn?t necessarily open a new market or consumer base and therefore, may not be particularly attractive to many corporate donors. And the perception that American consumers don?t care as much about global issues as they do domestic ones may help to explain why 88.6% of corporate philanthropic dollars remained in the U.S. last year.
So why should U.S. companies include “fighting global poverty” on their list of philanthropic objectives for 2008 and beyond? Organizations like Millennium Promise are getting attention by appealing to companies in a language they can understand. A new survey conducted by Millennium Promise and CareerBuilder.com and released today shows that companies have a strong motivation to give to global poverty: their employees expect it.
In the survey, nearly three-quarters of U.S. employee respondents reported that they believe their company should help people living in extreme poverty outside of the United States. The survey, based on responses of 6,823 private-sector American employees, placed Africa highest on the list of places most in need of assistance in front of North America by a 30% margin. While the situation in Africa has certainly begun to penetrate U.S. mainstream media, “to see it registering in this way [with U.S. employees] was really encouraging” said Martin Edlund, director of communications for Millennium Promise, “there is more than enough wealth in the world to address domestic problems as well as problems in Africa and a little money can go a long way there.”
When asked to identify the top three issues affecting people globally, survey respondents chose hunger (31%), education (22%) and HIV/AIDS/diseases (15%). This result proved to be another thought-provoking finding for Millennium Promise, an organization started by development economist Jeffrey Sachs, whose mission is to engage the private sector in achieving the millennium development goals. The organization does this with its Millennium Villages, which address corporate needs for results and outcomes. Now in 80 villages across ten countries, Millennium Villages take a comprehensive approach to addressing poverty, working with experts in the global and local communities to address major problems of poverty simultaneously: health, food production, education, access to clean water, and essential infrastructure.? Sponsored by individuals and companies like CareerBuilder, the project aims to make these communities self-sustaining (another selling point for corporate donors) and the results thus far have been impressive.
But is all corporate aid used so effectively? We suspect the answer is a resounding “no.” The world has spent $2.3 trillion (measured in today?s dollars) in aid to developing nations over the past five decades and one child still dies every five seconds from hunger-related causes. The challenge then, is using employee expectations to drive international corporate giving in an effective way. ?