2023 CSR Outlook: Five Trends from Fidelity Philanthropic Consulting

Maeve Miccio
Vice President, Fidelity Philanthropic Consulting

The events of the past three years have led to substantial and accelerated shifts in how companies engage in corporate social responsibility. Given my vantage point leading Fidelity Philanthropic Consulting, I’m inspired by the trends we’ve seen and expect many of them to continue this year. Below are some of my 2023 predictions for trends in corporate citizenship:

Shifts in Impact Reporting and Communications – In 2020, we saw many companies adopt the practices of trust-based philanthropy. Companies are increasingly making grants for general operating support, investing in promising leaders, and waiving reporting requirements. We’ve seen companies shift their metrics from the resources and accomplishments of the company to doubling down on the impact of nonprofit partners. These are welcome shifts that will likely continue this year. However, corporate citizenship professionals must reconcile these changes against frameworks for annual ESG/CSR reports. Practitioners will need to focus on different and compelling ways to communicate the impact of corporate social responsibility programs as they make a case for continued investment.

Philanthropy as a Driver of Belonging My team utilizes a values-based approach to philanthropy. I believe philanthropy can be one of the most personal expressions of your values and lived experiences. We know that employees, customers, and investors expect companies to authentically demonstrate their values in nearly all business areas—marketing, supply chain, governance, operations, benefits, etc. Similarly, we are seeing companies emphasize and support the personal philanthropic efforts of their employees by offering generous matching programs, creating opportunities for employees to influence giving decisions, and in some cases, even offering donor-advised funds as a component of a benefits package. Philanthropy and volunteering offer employees an avenue to express what they care about most, and employee giving will likely continue to rise in prominence.

Investing in Nonprofit Sector InfrastructureIn recent years, we have seen companies invest in the operations, infrastructure, and leaders of the nonprofit sector. However, there is still tremendous opportunity to strengthen the nonprofit sector by investing in efforts that enhance the financial management capacity of nonprofits, invest in their technology, address racial equity within the sector, bolster nonprofit leadership development and governance, and strengthen their advocacy work. Companies understand the value of making these investments in their organizations and may be uniquely positioned to provide this capacity-building support to nonprofit partners. If you are interested in funding organizations serving the nonprofit sector, the Fidelity Charitable Trustees’ Initiative Impact Report highlights some incredible organizations working in the space.

Streamline, Streamline, Streamline – Practitioners are looking for ways to increase efficiency and streamline their work. Many are inspired by examples set by philanthropists like MacKenzie Scott, who are making more significant, longer-term grants and leveraging outsourced support to vet funding opportunities. Companies are using technology—like Fidelity’s Workplace Giving platform—to manage employee engagement initiatives. They are also increasingly using corporate donor-advised funds to alleviate the administrative burden of grantmaking and matching donations. Over the past three years, corporate social responsibility practitioners have managed through seemingly relentless current events requiring response and action. They can focus on building relationships and engaging directly with community partners and employees by streamlining their efforts.

Applying a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Lens to the Field of CSR A study of the corporate citizenship profession published by ACCP last year found that 58% of respondents stated that “none/few” of their team members came from the communities served by their company’s CSR programs. This study underscores the need to diversify the field of corporate social responsibility to ensure that the individuals working on these programs represent the communities they serve. Additionally, a study by the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship found substantial pay gaps for women and people of color in the profession across all levels. The tenets of DE&I work should also be examined and addressed within the field of corporate citizenship.

I’d be curious to hear if these predictions resonate or if other ideas are top of mind for you. Please reach out to me to share your thoughts on how you envision the continued evolution of our field in 2023 and beyond.

Fidelity Philanthropic Consulting is a division of National Charitable Services, a Fidelity Investments company. The Fidelity Investments name and logo are registered marks of FMR, LLC. 1066280.1.0

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