Defining Corporate Citizenship


“What do you do for a living?” is a conversational question that working professionals frequently encounter in social and business networking. For some, the answer is easy, “I’m a lawyer” or “I’m in sales” are statements that are readily grasped. For those in Corporate Citizenship or Corporate Social Responsibility, the answer almost always requires additional dialogue. The two or three words used to describe the profession and the scope of the work are not universally understood. In fact, they are often unclear, even to colleagues working in the same company.

As the Association of Corporate Citizenship Professionals, our members often say there is a need to improve the understanding of the work that they do within their companies and in their professional circles. While the people on the team grasp the magnitude and meaning of the work, many across their organizations do not.

Other professions encapsulate and communicate the breadth of an occupation by adopting a Body of Knowledge, and ACCP has done just that.

The Corporate Citizenship Guide: Defining the Profession is a collection of suggested knowledge and concepts that comprise the work of corporate citizenship professionals. Its function is to define the expertise of individuals and/or teams in corporate citizenship, and within a company’s overall corporate citizenship function.


Responding to feedback from our membership, ACCP’s Board of Directors charged its Education Committee to draft a Body of Knowledge in 2016. The process took over a year. ACCP’s Education Committee completed the first draft in 2017 and then convened multiple focus groups to provide feedback on the document. From there, ACCP opened a review period to allow individuals to make comments before the document was finalized and introduced at ACCP: The Conference 2018 in March. The completed Body of Knowledge now lives as The Corporate Citizenship Guide: Defining the Profession.

The Corporate Citizenship Guide: Defining the Profession is not a static document as the profession of Corporate Citizenship is growing and changing. As it changes, ACCP’s Education Committee will periodically review and revise The Guide to stay current. In addition to serving as a tool for citizenship professionals, The Guide will also inform ACCP’s decisions on content, programs and education for our members as we move forward.

The Guide is organized into five main categories:

  1. Corporate Citizenship Strategy & Management
  2. Community Investment
  3. Measurement
  4. Employee Experience
  5. Operations

Under each category are domains. Each domain contains a series of knowledge statements that make up the breadth of knowledge for that domain.

ACCP’s Approach

As you review the document and relate it to your team, your position, or to the overall citizenship function within your company, it is important to remember that there is likely not a sole expert in each domain. More likely you will recognize the responsibilities within each domain span various internal functions.

You will also find that different individuals within the citizenship team will have varying degrees of knowledge about each component. The Guide is relevant to your overall corporate citizenship approach and is structured to encompass individual professionals, the collective of the citizenship team, and the comprehensive potential of the citizenship function for the company.

How to Use this Guide

There are multiple ways for you to use this guide – for your own assessment, to evaluate the breadth of the citizenship team or to assess the overall citizenship function within a company. Below we’ve outlined some ways we see the field using The Guide. As you discover other ways to use it, be sure to share them with us to pass along to help others get the most out of this new resource.

Individual Professional

Professional Development Tool


Professional Advancement | Careeer Planning | Elevated Reputation | Greater Opportunities

Manager or Department Leader

Team Assessment and Capacity Building Tool


Better Training Decisions | Improved Team Performance | Gap Analysis | Improved Hiring Decisions | Superior Recruiting Outcomes

Senior Executive

Functional Assessment, Resource and Description of the Corporate Citizenship Function’s Role and Expertise


Leadership Buy-In | Increased Support | Elevated Reputation of the Department | Expanded Opportunities for Cross-Department Collaboration

The Guide for Corporate Citizenship

Corporate Citizenship Strategy & Management

  • Business & Society Integration
  • Corporate Communications
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Stakeholder Management (internal/external
  • Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion

Community Investment

  • Disaster Preparedness, Relief, & Response
  • In-Kind Donations
  • Cause Marketing
  • Sponsorships
  • Grant Management
  • Impact Investing


  • Data Analysis, Reporting, & Insights
  • Program Evaluation

Employee Experience

  • Employee Engagement
  • Employee Service & Volunteerism
  • Employee Giving


  • Foundation Management
  • Project/Event Management
  • Regulations & Compliance

Corporate Citizenship Strategy and Management

Business and Society Integration

  • Foundational understanding of the company business process and culture as a context for Corporate Citizenship
  • Role of the company in advocacy
  • The company’s goals and how to align Corporate Citizenship initiatives with them
  • The company’s unique assets and capabilities and how to leverage them to strengthen Corporate Citizenship efforts
  • Relative importance of environmental, social and governance issues to the business and how to use that to help inform the company’s Corporate Citizenship strategy
  • Where and how Corporate Citizenship and engagement in issues material to the company can provide value across the company and business lifecycle (e.g. business units, investors, customers, employees, supply chain)
  • The key role stakeholders play in informing Corporate Citizenship strategy
  • How to employ business competencies to generate economic value in a way that also produces value for society by addressing social and environmental issues
  • How products, services and Corporate Citizenship affect reputation and levers to enhance reputation
  • How to drive environmental and social impact through a business (products, services, operations, etc.)
  • How to make the business case/demonstrate ROI for Corporate Citizenship with specific focus on leadership support
  • Linkages between social and environmental issues and the role of business and government in addressing them
  • Global and cultural considerations and how to apply them
  • How to build a signature program that is the focal point of a strategy
  • Sustainable Development Goals and implications to the company
  • Key risks and associated mitigation approaches
  • Best practices, trends and benchmarking resources

Corporate Communications

  • Internal communication strategy to engage and inform internal stakeholders, such as company executives, boards of directors, employees and others about Corporate Citizenship goals and how to support them in their business units
  • External communication strategy to engage and inform stakeholders of Corporate Citizenship goals and progress
  • Formal and informal internal and formal and informal external communication outlets that can be leveraged to achieve Corporate Citizenship goals (e.g. traditional, social media, community partners)
  • Standards for Corporate Citizenship reporting (e.g. Global Reporting Initiative, Dow Jones Sustainability Index, Carbon Disclosure Project)
  • How to use storytelling to communicate data and impact in a more compelling way
  • How to cultivate and leverage employees as Corporate Citizenship ambassadors
  • Key risks and associated mitigation approaches
  • Best practices, trends and benchmarking resources

Environmental Sustainability

  • Ways to incentivize employees to support the company’s sustainable efforts, such as tracking, badging and recognition
  • Levers available to make change (e.g. operations, supply chain, public advocacy) integrating to appropriate business functions
  • Communication of expectations around sustainability to vendors and internal partners
  • Impact of your company’s environmental footprint (e.g. carbon, electricity)
  • Key risks and associated mitigation approaches
  • Best practices, trends and benchmarking resources

Stakeholder Management
(internal and external)

  • Recognition and management of the stakeholders and how they are connected to the issue and the company/industry
  • Recognition of the balance between building rapport/relationships and moving forward as needed
  • How to communicate to stakeholders how their points of view impact reputation/resources/ objectives
  • Strategic/intentional involvement of stakeholders and appropriate timing of these conversations
  • How to navigate corporate politics to garner support for Corporate Citizenship work, building allies
  • How to manage perceptions of the Corporate Citizenship function and staff internally and externally
  • Client relations/customer service
  • Key risks and associated mitigation approaches
  • Best practices, trends and benchmarking resources

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

  • Goals of the company’s equity, diversity and inclusion strategy
  • Differences between equity versus equality
  • Recognition of the current environment and cultural context of various stakeholders
  • Recognition of one’s own biases and how to mitigate them in Corporate Citizenship efforts
  • Recognition of bias built into systems and how to address that in Corporate Citizenship efforts
  • Definitions of equity, diversity, inclusion and other key terms
  • How to see things from different viewpoints
  • How Corporate Citizenship work can inform and reinforce equity, diversity and inclusion strategy
  • How to use data and community input in applying equity, diversity and inclusion to Corporate Citizenship strategy, programming and funding decisions
  • How to address equity, diversity and inclusion efforts through recruitment, retention and vendor/partner selection
  • How to engage, manage and/or best leverage employee resource/affinity groups
  • Key risks and associated mitigation approaches
  • Best practices, trends and benchmarking resources

Community Investment

Disaster Preparedness, Relief and Response

  • The company’s disaster lifecycle model used to guide their approach to disaster preparedness and response (e.g. mitigation, preparedness, immediate response, long-term recovery)
  • Types of disasters (e.g. natural, man-made, episodic, ongoing)
  • What different disaster types mean to a company and appropriate responses to each
  • The company’s assets and capabilities that can be mobilized to respond to a disaster
  • How to work within and manage internal and external expectations during a crisis
  • How to develop a company-wide response plan/framework to be used to guide decisioning and action
  • Possible local, national and global partners and how to select them based on disaster type and company goals
  • How to develop a system for gathering information during a disaster (e.g. employees impacted, community impact)
  • How to work across the business to coordinate a holistic communication and response plan
  • Ways a company can help employees impacted by a disaster
  • Key risks and associated mitigation approaches
  • Best practices, trends and benchmarking resources

In-Kind Donations

  • Goals of the company’s donation program
  • Types of in-kind gifts (e.g. goods/products, services/expertise)
  • Ethical considerations in handling of in-kind donations
  • Basic understanding of item(s) being donated (e.g. product lifecycle or other considerations unique to product and/or industry)
  • How to value in-kind gifts for tax purposes
  • Unique implications of data donations (e.g. data privacy and NPI standards and laws) and associated agreement needs
  • How to select a vendor handling in-kind donations
  • Key risks and associated mitigation approaches
  • Best practices, trends and benchmarking resources

Cause Marketing

  • The company’s goals for cause marketing
  • Types of cause marketing (e.g. transaction, point of sale)
  • The role of marketing and Corporate Citizenship in cause marketing
  • Potential conflicts of interest associated with cause marketing
  • Key risks and associated mitigation approaches
  • Best practices, trends and benchmarking resources


  • Goals of the company’s sponsorship program
  • Types of sponsorship (e.g. naming/signature, events— cash, in-kind, media, promotional, location)
  • Sponsorship budget development and management
  • How to evaluate sponsorship benefits
  • How to negotiate the tangible and intangible benefits and recognition associated with sponsorships
  • Managing the execution of the sponsorship
  • Exit strategies
  • Key risks and associated mitigation approaches (e.g. when/how to pull naming)
  • Best practices, trends and benchmarking resources

Grant Management

  • Goals of the company’s grant management program
  • Types of grants (e.g. financial, product, volunteer)
  • Solicited versus unsolicited grant proposals and how to determine which to accept
  • How to choose the right type of grants to support the company’s goals
  • Types of grant materials (e.g. guidelines, rubric, application, entry quiz)
  • How to administer the process and the technology needed to manage the grant process
  • Governance decisions of the grant management program (e.g. authority for decisions, centralized or decentralized, levels of authority)
  • Elements of grant agreements (e.g. intention for the gift, timeline for achievement of stated goals, responsibilities for reporting from grantees and use of marks and logos by each party to the agreement)
  • Training needed for non-Corporate Citizenship professionals on grants management
  • How to assess grants in relation to company’s goals
  • How to develop and manage grant budgets
  • How to employ due diligence when reviewing a grant (e.g. during site visits, interviews with staff, board of directors, research)
  • How to create partnerships with other departments to assist in grant management process (e.g. legal, government relations, marketing, human resources)
  • Types of funding partnerships (e.g. funding collaboratives, co-funding initiatives)
  • How to develop exit strategies from funding partnerships, communities or funding priorities and the impact of these strategies (e.g. on brand, community, organization)
  • Implications of international grant making (e.g. legal, tax, ethical, branding, compliance issues)
  • Key risks and associated mitigation approaches
  • Best practices, trends and benchmarking resources

Impact Investing

  • Goals of the investments / values discovery
  • Current social/impact investing approaches and vehicles (e.g. benefit corporation, social enterprise, PRI, MRI)
  • Choosing appropriate investment strategies and partnerships
  • Integration of environmental, social and governance into foundation decisions
  • Key risks and associated mitigation approaches
  • Best practices, trends and benchmarking resources


Data Analysis, Reporting and Insights

  • Align analysis with business goals
  • Statistical analysis (requirements, processing and modeling)
  • What information and market research is available and where to acquire it
  • How to present data effectively
  • Use of data for program design
  • Key risks and associated mitigation approaches
  • Best practices, trends and benchmarking resources

Program Evaluation

  • Goals of the company’s program evaluation
  • Types of evaluation methodologies
  • How to link the program design to evaluation method
  • Evaluation methodologies (e.g. summative versus formative) and how to select one that is appropriate
  • How to execute the chosen methodology
  • Community impact evaluation
  • When and how to use ROI assessment
  • Key risks and associated mitigation approaches
  • Best practices, trends and benchmarking resources

Employee Experience

Employee Engagement

  • Goals of the company’s employee engagement program in concert with Human Resource efforts
  • Types of employee engagement (e.g. skills-based volunteering, green teams, Corporate Citizenship rotations)
  • Partners involved in the company’s employee engagement program
  • How the company defines and measures employee engagement
  • How to select appropriate initiatives based on the company’s goals
  • How to identify and implement initiative goals
  • Program infrastructure to support employee engagement
  • Interconnectivity of employee engagement initiatives
  • How to manage stakeholders
  • Corporate Citizenship involvement in company orientation and training programs
  • Key risks and associated mitigation approaches
  • Best practices, trends and benchmarking resources

Employee Service & Volunteerism

  • Goals of the company’s volunteer strategy
  • Types of volunteerism (e.g. board service, pro-bono [professional services such as legal support], skills based [sharing knowledge/skill/craft with nonprofit], transactional [hands on], enterprise-wide [day of service], dollars for doers [volunteer hours are rewarded with grants to nonprofit in recognition of volunteer commitment], signature program, blended)
  • Selecting volunteerism type(s) that align to broader company goals and objectives
  • Technology options for managing volunteerism
  • Volunteer management strategies/tactics
  • Volunteer recognition and rewards strategies
  • Tracking, measurement and reporting the value and impacts of volunteerism
  • Branding of programs (internal and external)
  • Implications of international volunteerism (e.g. legal, ethical, tax, compliance)
  • Partnering with Human Resources – balancing work and volunteerism, volunteerism as wellness
  • Key risks and associated mitigation approaches
  • Best practices, trends and benchmarking resources

Employee Giving

  • Goals of the company’s employee giving program, including success measures
  • Types of employee giving (e.g. matching gift, federated/annual focused campaign, payroll giving, employee to employee relief, employee fundraising, crowdsourcing, board service requirements, Political Action Committee matching)
  • How to align goals/objectives to select employee giving initiatives
  • How to align goals/objectives in selecting technology solutions
  • Governance and policies needed
  • Implications of international employee giving (e.g. legal, ethical, tax, compliance)
  • How to track, measure and report giving
  • Key risks and associated mitigation approaches
  • Best practices, trends and benchmarking resources


Foundation Management

  • Types of foundations (e.g. private, public, defined class) and when to use them
  • Types of funding mechanisms (e.g. company funded annually, company funded endowed)
  • Foundation resource distribution
  • How to build an investment portfolio for a foundation
  • Investment committee and stakeholder management
  • Foundation board management
  • Foundation governance rules and best practices
  • Foundation fiduciary responsibilities
  • Foundation laws and regulations
  • How to conduct foundation board meetings
  • How to identify staffing needs, outside services and roles based on foundation purpose
  • The implications of using corporate versus foundation funds
  • Key risks and associated mitigation approaches
  • Best practices, trends and benchmarking resources (e.g. attorney general’s best practice guidance on foundation management, reporting and independence)

Project / Event Management

  • How projects/events support the organization’s Corporate Citizenship goals
  • How to lead a project or event
  • Organizational and planning skills
  • Project plan development and tracking
  • Process to oversee the project scope and assign project team roles
  • Project/event execution steps and milestones
  • Using events as leverage (a platform) to build staff’s professional skills (e.g. tie to HR, employee engagement, team building)
  • Key risks and associated mitigation approaches
  • Best practices, trends and benchmarking resource

Regulations and Compliance

  • Regulations (e.g. international, national, regional, local) and compliance and their impact on Corporate Citizenship
  • Recognition of the interplay between specific industry regulations and Corporate Citizenship work
  • Ethical considerations in Corporate Citizenship regulatory compliance
  • Partnership with internal stakeholders and subject matter experts (e.g. ethics, legal, compliance, government relations)
  • Partnering with HR to communicate and ensure regulatory compliance among employees
  • Key risks and associated mitigation approaches
  • Best practices, trends and benchmarking resources

Closing Thoughts

If you have chosen a career in Corporate Citizenship, ACCP, the Association for Corporate Citizenship Professionals, is your Association. The work that you do is vital to both society and to your company. It is our mission to empower you to improve the world and to strengthen your companies. We can’t think of a better way to close this book then to share some pictures of our members, your peers and colleagues, doing just that.

Thank you for what you do — you make a difference every day.

Thank you for your submission.