A Renewal Strategy for Citizenship

by Risa Sherman

As President Obama and Congress go to work trying to breathe life into the economy, we thought it wise to take the pulse of causenation and see how it’s fairing in these strained times. We talked with dozens of folks from across the spectrum of professionals who have some skin in the Citizenship game.

What we’re hearing across the board – from foundation heads to corporate CSR teams, from corporate communications VPs to community relations and public affairs managers is this: Everyone is tightening their belts and trying to do more with the same or fewer resources. But the real challenge they are facing is how to meet the demands of the economy and continue to move the ball forward on their Citizenship efforts. Because no one we talked to is getting pushback that Citizenship is any less of a priority, in fact, just the opposite. The emphasis is great; the resources just aren’t the same.

So we’re asking, how can we continue to sow the seeds of Citizenship? How can we hold tight to the traction that corporate America has been gaining on critical business and social objectives at this time when the country needs stability and progress most? While few seem to be able to do anything new, we think it is precisely the right time to renew – commitments, assets, partnerships, and strategies.

  • Return to your values and let them ground you and your team. Find ways to demonstrate them internally and externally in small but profound ways that make sense and speak volumes about your organization’s character in the worst of times.
  • Maximize your assets, rethink how you are using them, and make them work harder against multiple goals. Search out opportunities in other parts of your organization and bring fresh perspective to your counterparts on how you can add value to existing efforts.
  • Focus. There is not an organization in America that isn’t looking at priorities through a different lens than six months ago. Think about your stakeholders, your initiatives, and your short-term goals. How can Citizenship work strategically in new ways?
  • Strengthen partnerships with stakeholders with whom you have been working. Be open, honest, and transparent about where you are as a company and how you have to prioritize based on the state of your business. Find creative ways to continue to support the efforts and ideals of which you have been a part.
  • Over-emphasize your commitment to your employees. Whether you’ve been through layoffs or not, chances are, every employee in your organization is worried about what is going to happen next. Citizenship means living your values through even the toughest of times. How you handle layoffs, how you continue to nurture and inspire your employee base, and how you maintain your culture amidst change speak volumes about your character and spirit.

While the foreseeable economic future is uncertain at best, we can’t help but notice the palpable undercurrent of optimism and fortitude of the American spirit. We are buoyed by the progress we have made as a causenation and the necessity to recognize that this important work is part of the solution that America is striving toward.

We will continue to take the pulse of causenation and blog about best practices in managing citizenship during difficult times.

What are you doing to weather the storm and push your citizenship agenda forward?

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