Saturday, September 26, 2009

PUMA outruns the pack in carbon footprinting

Going for a run ? Quick jog in the park? Got a new pair of PUMA sports shoes? Know anyone who has ? Then you might be interested in the PUMA Sustainability Report covering 2007/2008. Even if you wear a rival brand of sports footwear, you may still be interested in above-mentioned report. Why all the fuss ? I will let them tell it:

QUOTE from report:
In 2008 PUMA commissioned a diploma thesis to investigate the carbon footprint of the PUMA shoe Van Slobbe Logo Lux. Taking into consideration that no universally accepted standard on carbon footprint mapping was existent, we followed the methodology of the Carbon Trust and used the software Umberto as well as the data bases Ecoinvent and Probas. Product carbon footprinting is a relatively new method. Therefore, we had to make certain assumptions for our calculations. Although inaccuracies have to be taken into consideration, the results are quite surprising. For example, 57% of the 41 kg CO2 emitted per pair of shoes originate from cattle farming and another 37% from pig farming .This means that the overwhelming carbon emissions of our shoe can be traced back to leather production, while transport emissions are rather low in comparison. Taking into account the erroneous or missing data, the result is a carbon footprint of 41.08 kg for the PUMA “Van Slobbe Logo Lux” shoe." UNQUOTE

So, now you can blame cows and pigs for the fact that your running gear is causing global warming. Oink!

Another interesting thing about this analysis is that several countries are involved in the supply chain of this Van Slobbe Logo Lux shoe (couldn't they have chosen a shorter brand name ?) This involved shipping from Cameroon, transport between Romania and Italy, shipping from China, resources in Germany and shipping from Argentina. Looks like these shoes started running long before you did!

Removing the livestock data for the leather processing elements, the key impacts are :
*   24.39 % derived from all transportation processes
*   34.69 % derived from incineration (not sure excactly what they incinerate)
*   21.33 % derived from manufacturing processes
*   19.42 % derived from producing electricity

OK. Stop. Pause. Chunky Monkey. Think.
Why is all this so exciting?

First: PUMA is one of the only reporters i know to have gone to such lengths to calculate the carbon footprint of their product and report it transparently. Thumbs UP!
Second: The insights from this exercise provide the basis for taking action to reduce carbon footprints and climate change effects.Indeed, they provide the basis for an industry-wide methodology and set a standard for others to follow. Thumbs UP!
Third: It provides material for a really fascinating blog post (Modesty is a strong point with me). Fingers and thumbs UP!

The next time you go running in your snazzy PUMA Van Slobbe thing shoes, remember this: cows and pigs are the reason you feel so hot and sweaty.   

elaine cohen is the joint CEO of BeyondBusiness, a leading reporting and social-environmental consulting firm . Visit our website at:

Friday, September 25, 2009

An Ode to #CSR reporting

Some people accuse us CSR Reporting pros of lacking creativity, fun, humour and wit. I guess that's because of the really really boring CSR reports that we write year after year. I am all in favour of dispelling this myth, and to prove it, i offer you the following Ode to CSR Reporting: 

CSR is not simply a game
Or a way to stop critics and blame
For stakeholder support
Just write a report
It's your route to success and to fame

A report is a way to explain
The csr work you maintain
If you've nothing to say
Report it anyway
Don’t expect anyone to complain

A CR report's a foundation
For building trust in your corporation
If it doesn’t quite work
And you feel like a jerk
You can always go on vacation

Three thousand reports every year
Show reporting is quite a sincere
Attempt to expose
The cons and the pros
Of the ethics to which you adhere

You can choose to report GRI
Indicators on which we rely
Don’t forget the index
Of all the subjects
No data? We'll turn a blind eye

Carbon footprint is key to disclose
GHG's averages highs and lows
If emissions increased
And offsets decreased
The numbers you can just transpose

On diversity you shouldn’t fall short
Women managers you must support
There are none on the Board
By the CEO they're ignored
But on that you don’t have to report

If you want your report to attract
And encourage stakeholders to react
Make it very very long
This can never be wrong
Length does from the content distract

Your report of course you must assure
Credibility so as to ensure
But if this costs too much
A very nice touch
Is to make all the language obscure

Your report you should publish online
With a swishy interactive design
They'll think you are cool
Over your report they'll drool
This year, you won't need to resign

To sum up, reporting is attainable
CSR is totally explainable
Do not be deterred
Follow the herd
It's your passport to being sustainable!

(PS: I deliberately left Chunky Monkey out of this Ode, just in case you think i am a little obsessed. Well, actually, you try finding something to rhyme with chunky monkey....)

elaine cohen is the joint CEO of BeyondBusiness, a leading reporting and social-environmental consulting firm . Visit our website at:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sustainability flies! Lufthansa reports.

Lufthansa and sustainability in the skies. I returned today from Germany where i was presenting to a large business on Corporate Responsibility Reporting. I flew Lufthansa between Tel Aviv and Frankfurt. Lufthansa crew do not usually speak Hebrew , so imagine our surprise when this flight attendant gets on the loudspeaker and proceeds to give us the landing blurb in Hebrew. He explains that he has been learning the language for three weeks, and he rounds off with  "Maccabi Tel Aviv are the champions!" Passengers on the flight smiled and clapped enthusiastically! (Myself, I prefer Manchester United ) Kinda reminded me of what i hear about Southwest Airlines. Southwest Lufthansa. This guy generated such a positive reaction, passengers loved it and will remember this small but thoughtful gesture of friendship towards Hebrew-speakers on the flight . And several will tell their friends. This is how positive reputation is built, not only via press-releases. Well done to this Lufthansa guy!

Pleasing to note, the tales-of-Lufthansa  broadcast on the in-flight screens includes a mention that passengers can read about the airline's social and environmental initiatives in the airline's Sustainability Report. Nice touch, though i suspect that a one sentence plug flew (bad pun!) over the heads of most of the aircraft passengers. But, aha! It didnt escape me. Let's read it ....

It's called Balance. It's a heavyish 124 pages short and  selectively covers the year 2008. It's not GRI and its not assured (humph) . In scanning the ATR section (About This Report, for the non-pros amongst us) , which i always do to know what's included and what's not, I noticed a rather anachronistic statement referring to the scope of the report which excludes "third-party services, as Lufthansa has no influence either on their  performance or on the aircraft operated". Aren't those days over, when we refused to be accountable for the actions of our suppliers? Isn't it generally accepted that companies DO have a degree of responsibility AND an influence over service providers? Does Lufthansa REALLY mean they have NO influence ? And does this mean that there is NO attention paid to the kind of third party services are employed in the name of the German aviation giant, with 108,000 employees, 515 aircraft and a $3 billion balance sheet? Perhaps they hadn't read their Chairman's intro which says : "As always, we strive to convince through quality and performance. This applies to all companies within the Group, and we also bring our influence to bear on partners, suppliers and the framework of conditions in which we operate". Nothing much else is written about the thousands of suppliers i expect supply Lufthansa with meals, equipment, spare parts, overflow flight services, paper, services and whatever else it needs to transport millions of passengers and freight all over the world. (humph again). But, there is GOOD NEWS. Lufthansa has been running the HelpAlliance for the past 10 years, which has supported over 60 projects supporting underprivileged children in the world's poorest countries. Passengers are engouraged to donate cash or airmiles. Perhaps i could donate Chunky Monkey?

elaine cohen is the joint CEO of BeyondBusiness, a leading reporting and social-environmental consulting firm . Visit our website at:

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The catch 22 of CSR reporting and the paradox of trust

The purpose of a CSR report is to build trust. By operating transparently and responding openly to stakeholder concerns and aspirations, through a "fair and balanced" presentation of the material issues relating to your organization's sustainability and corporate responsibily efforts, you build trust. Trust, so that stakeholders can hold your Company's integrity  in high regard and make educated decisions about whether they want to invest in you, work for you, buy your products or services, supply to you, collaborate with you, complain about you to the regulators, approve your license to operate in their neighborhood or simply recommend you to their friends. But quite often, reports are met with cyncism and mistrust. Why should we believe what is written in CSR reports. And more importantly, why shouldn't we believe what's reported? 


CSR Reports are just a form of marcom or PR - self-gratifying do-gooding self-promotion.

i.e. you cant trust CSR reports and you can't trust reporting companies. People may be right. CSR reports look like  PR. They are  full of superlatives and positives and superlapositives (like that ? It's a hybrid. Using one word instead of two is sustainable best practice... or bractice. Less typing energy, less server power, less carbissions). 

Which is why i find it interesting that so very few PR professionals are actually involved in managing CSR communications in their businesses, or in leading the writing of CSR reports. See some examples from reports published in September 2009:

Corporate Express Austrailia's 2008 report :  CSR is led by a CSR manager reporting to the CEO. There is a CSR Steering Committee with representation from all functions including the New Zealand person who reports to the Head of Marketing. But there seems to be no dominant PR or comms-related presence.
WestLB AG 2009 report : The Sustainability Department, which is responsible for planning, steering and controlling all sustainability activities, is a part of the Group Development business unit and reports to the Chairman of the Managing Board. Do you detect a mention of Marketing or PR in this structure ? Nope. Me neither.
Teck 2009 Report :The Safety and Sustainability Committee  of the Board of Directors provides policy direction and monitors  environmental, social and safety performance. The Corporate Environment and Risk Management Committee is a senior management committee that sets priorities and direction for EHS programs, tracks performance and measures results. No PR stuff here.
MTR Corporation 2008 Report : The Corporate Responsibility Steering Committee is chaired by the Legal Secretary and members from different parts of the business are on the team. Sounds pretty PR-less. 

Now, in an outstanding piece of research by Sherie Winston of Georgetown University, in which she charts the positioning of CSR in a business, 125 CSR jobs were studied and only half had some form of CSR communications content. When hiring CSR people, companies dont' look for communications specialists. "Few are pure communications jobs, and most fall under administrative, managerial or business development categories."  

Logic might dictate that if companies were intending their CSR reports to be PR brochures, they would have PR people leading their CSR report publication. Does that make sense? I mean, in any business i have ever worked in, the Finance guy counted the profits and the IT person decided when to upgrade my laptop. So why would a PR-motivated CSR report not be led by the PR person, arguably the most competent person to produce PR content ? 

Do you have kids ? What happens when someone asks you about your kids? You dont start off by listing all their bad points (well, unless your kid is Dennis the Menace). You dont spend all your time saying what they dont do well. You start off by saying how wonderful they are. Perhaps you might throw in the odd comment about the fact they total-lossed yourcar again last week, but on the whole, you stay with the good stuff. They are not bottom of the class, they are 28th from the top. They are not hyperactive, they have lots of energy. Most mom's are natural PR agents for their own kids. Mom's  tell the REAL truth about their kids (my son is two rungs short of a ladder) only  when they are with their closest family members or friends. The people who they trust the most.

And it's a bit like that with CSR reports. Each report is someone's kid. No CSR reporter wants to scoop up the dirt when writing about the organization in whose success he has a vested interest. So fair and balanced reporting is acually counter-intuitive, requires a degree of maturity and confidence that most corporations have not yet achieved.

Actually, it requires trust. It requires the organization to trust that the stakeholders who read the report will do so with a fair and balanced mindset, and not look for the first opportunity to beat the company about the head for everything that it admits is not perfect.

and here we have it, the CATCH 22.

To engender trust, you have to show trust though balanced reporting.
But balanced reporting is risky, as stakeholders might react negatively to anything that is less than perfect. If you dont trust them, they wont trust you.  If you don't trust your stakeholders, your CSR report will always lack authenticity. Because you will always be too scared to present your Company in a balanced way.

Like mommy (above), a corporation will have greater trust in those stakeholders that it is closest to. Those the company has invested time in getting to know, in engaging and dialoging with. The corporation will feel safe in providing with a balanced picture to this greater critical mass of stakeholders.

and here is the PARADOX

Paradoxically, despite the fact that stakeholder engagement is crucial to building trust and therefore balanced, trustworthy reporting, most Companies do not pay much attention to this. We can see this evidenced in the brief one-pagers in most reports which do no more than pay lip-service to stakeholder engagement. Not many corporations realize how core this is to their entire CSR program, and to building trust through CSR reporting. 

At this point, you are wondering how Chunky Monkey fits with reporting, catch 22's and paradoxes (gotcha!) . Here's the thing: I did a Free Astrology Destiny Reading on for Chunky Monkey , and this is part of what what is says: ...... chunky monkey, if you are a business person, you may feel that your employees and customers (especially the loyal, long time ones) are your family and try to take care of them as such. You care about their personal lives and feel for their troubles, and can like a good mother you see them through tough times.   Get that ? Chunky Monkey is all about values and stakeholder engagement. Phew. That's a relief!

elaine cohen is the joint CEO of BeyondBusiness, a leading reporting and social-environmental consulting firm . Visit our website at:

Saturday, September 12, 2009

27 ways to make your CR report BUZZ

So you wrote a CR report! Big deal! What next? Make it BUZZ.
The thing about writing CSR reports is that they take a helluvalotta energy. The reporting process takes months, involves many internal and external stakeholders, and creates a reporting frenzy in the organization which bypasses none but the most unengaged employees. In theory, that is. Sometimes reporting is an intensive process for a just small group of individuals in the organization. Whatever the format, it's intense. There's a build-up. A deadline. Many hurdles to defuse. (is that as mixed metaphore?) Then. It happens. You send the report to print (or upload it to your fancy new html flash mini-site for viewing by the general public) and that's it. B-I-G sigh of relief. Mop your brow. Stare into space and feel the release. Off to the bar for a celebratory drink. Sit back and wait for the compliments to start flowing in.
I suspect this is how it happens in most organizations. The report is a certain end in itself, an achievement to be recognized, a tangible result of months of effort, challenge and hard, hard work. Once it's done, a nicely deserved pat-on-the-back can be justified.
Or not.
Because the report is just a milestone . It's not an end in itself and should not enjoy splendid isolation from csr processes in the business, or from the reporting continuum. For the day you finish work on one report, is the day you start work on the next. So what do you do when you have published your report? Here are 27 things (disclosure: I didn’t count them. But as list journalism is so popular, 27 seemed like a good number – actually I wish it was my age):

Public Relations: This should start before your report is published. Prior to the report publication date, certain facts, figures and stories that are worthy of highlight can be discerned. You could plan a PR build-up to a report publication using focused teasers, so that your PR mileage starts early, publish a headline referring to some worthy achievement soon-to-be revealed in the CSR report, or respond to a current issue in the press by referring to your upcoming report. Once your report is published, you could:

  • Hold a press conference
  • Issue a press release to
  • Get your report hosted on
  • Tweet it, Retweet it, Retweet Retweets, #FollowFriday it, #EcoMonday it, #SustainabilitySaturday it, Twitpic the cover, you get it. right ?
  • Announce it on, DevelopmentCrossing , CSRwire, LinkedIn, Facebook and anywhere else
  • Get it added to the GRI Reports list (if it's a GRI report)
  • Use the GRI's new report announcement service (if it's a GRI report)
  • Send posts to all the available social media
  • Make a short video about the report and post it to YouTube
  • Put up a slideshare presentation
  • Blog about your report
  • Tell your friends and family
  • Add a thumbnail of your report cover to all Company business cards

Engage Internal stakeholders: As soon as the report is published (and ideally some time prior to publication) you need to brief your employees. They need to know (a) the report exists and (b) details of the content, so that they can be effective reporting champions in their interface with all external stakeholders including customer and suppliers. There are many ways to do this:

  • post a CEO letter on the corporate intranet
  • hold communications meetings to present and discuss the report
  • send an Executive Summary to all employees
  • supply a Q&A brief for assistance in how to respond to feedback received
  • share a video presentation for employees by the reporting team to be screened on company plasmas
  • hold a report quiz in your intranet and offer a prize for winners.

Whatever the form of internal communication, a key advantage can be gained by seeking employee feedback and generating dialogue, rather than just creating awareness. Seek responses, insights, suggestions for improvement, address issues that arise, and log all interactions for your next report. Make sure your employees know what you expect of them in promoting the report.

Oh, and don't forget to THANK the employees who contributed to the report. Hold a report party. Order in a few tons of Chunky Monkey. A beer or two. Say thank you.

Engage External stakeholders: As with employees, the more external stakeholders you engage after your report is published, the more trust you will create, the more useful insights you will receive. Group your external stakeholders into meaningful categories (perhaps the ones you engaged in your materiality assessment, if you did this) and select the best way to approach them – personal letters, surveys, on-line polls, panel meetings, one-on-one discussions, initiated discussions on social media sites. Several reporters issue a hard copy to wide groups of stakeholders (sorry environmentalists!) and include a feedback questionnaire. Encourage responses, offer an incentive to provide feedback, a small prize, a daily supply of Chunky Monkey until the next report, for example. Engage your business partners in promoting the report – especially those, such as customers or suppliers, who you may have profiled in the report. They can also be ambassadors for your reporting efforts which support their own PR efforts.

Whatever the form of external activity, a key advantage can be gained by seeking feedback and generating dialogue, rather than just creating awareness. Seek responses, insights, suggestions for improvement, address issues that arise, and log all interactions for your next report. (You may have noticed I repeated that paragraph. Intentionally. Why? I thought it was important and you might have skipped it…. haha cant fool ME!)

On-line presentation: Your online report presentation is critical to creating awareness and generating engagement. One Company who specializes in getting your report effectively on-lined is See their recent analysis of on-line visibility, accessibility and interactivity of CR reports. This of course has to be planned and established in advance, but the benefits are gained after the report is published. Make sure you have someone in your team responsible for gathering, collating and analyzing the stats and relevant input from this process. Some reporters include an on-line survey on their HTML site, some have a forum for responses.

Conferences and seminars: Take the opportunity to present your report at the many many international and local conference, workshop and venues where people talk and learn about CR. Talk about the challenges in the reporting process, not just about the report itself. If you are Cadbury, and you give out slabs of Dairy Milk together with your report, you are sure to get strong interest. (it worked with me!)

Reporting awards:

  • Enter the CRRA Awards if you are anywhere in the world (it helps to be SOMEwhere).
  • Enter the CERES awards if you are in the US, Mexico or Canada.
  • Enter the ACCA Awards in the UK and many different countries around the world
  • Even if you don’t win, your report gains exposure.

Ensure your report creates positive impact
Finally, if you really want your report to be a BIG HIT and create true positive impact, you need to do something really creative and engaging. Here are some off-the-wall ideas:

  • Ask Madonna to do a benefit concert called Like a Virgin - our CR Report
  • Give a lottery ticket to each person who sends feedback and see who becomes a millionaire
  • Get Disney to produce a movie entitled : Mickey Mouse and the CR report
  • Ask Coca Cola to do a special edition CR Report Coke just for your company
  • Photoshop Barack Obama engrossed in page 48 of your report and publish to Flickr
  • Ask Ophrah Winfrey to do a prime-time show called: My husband betrayed me because of a CR report
  • Ask Al Gore to do a CR report roadshow for you called The Convenient Truth
  • Have Twitter put up your CR report banner on that page which comes up 24 times a day "there are too many tweets, please try again soon"
  • Wrap your corporate Christmas gifts to clients in pages of your report
  • Create a CR report meditation room in your head office, and have the Dalai Lama come meditate
  • Have McDonalds create a CR Report Happy Meal
  • Create an iphone app for your report which places calls to stakeholders reminding them to read it
  • Hide a bunch of CR reports in non-obvious places and run a viral cause-marketing campaign promising a modest contribution to Oxfam for each one found
  • And you guessed it… Have B&J produce a special edition CR Report Chunky Monkey flavor with extra chunks and fewer monkeys.

And now that you know, I hope to see lots of CR reports BUZZING from here on in….

elaine cohen is the joint CEO of BeyondBusiness, a leading reporting and social-environmental consulting firm . Visit our website at:

Friday, September 4, 2009

8 reasons non-profits should write sustainability reports

BSR – Business for Social Responsibility – a leading light in the field of professional non-profits (they might prefer to be called an NGO) produced their second public report earlier this year, which you can download here. I won't take up your valuable time by analyzing this report, excellent though it is. I will however express my respect for an NGO who adopts a policy of public disclosure and reporting.
Far too often in the non-profit world we see a reluctance to adopt professional practices of social and environmental responsibility and transparency. NGO's, who are often so critical of business, and who campaign businesses to improve their impacts, often feel that this doesn't apply to them. "We are promoting a social cause, why should we be transparent?" is the cry.""How better than this can you get? is the implication. I fail to see the logic here, of course. All organizations, for profit, not-for-profit, for a better world or for a better environment, for better or for worse (or for chunky monkey) should behave sustainably. One could argue that non-profits should be even greater models of transparency than we might expect of business. In the case of an organization whose mission is to promote sustainable business practices, such as BSR, this an absolute necessity. Similarly, one cannot fault the Global Reporting Initiative for not behaving with integrity. Their Sustainability Report for 2007/2008 is proudly presented and follows GRI methodology to the letter. The Global Compact produces an annual report which can be found here for 2008.
Why is it important for non-profits to report? Is this not a duty (and a privilege?) reserved for corporations? Corporations report because they have a responsibility to account for their impacts on stakeholders, and in doing so hope to enhance trust, relationships, engagement and improve business processes to yield greater overall sustainable impact. Are these objectives equally valid for non-profits ? Of course. So why is reporting branded corporations only?

I looked for non-profits who produce a sustainability report (i excluded academic institutions, professional assosiations and governmental bodies from this analysis in order to focus on social and environmental cause-based non-profits only).

The UK based World Wildlife Fund published its latest an Annual Review in 2008. This is a great overview of their emvironmental impacts covering issues such as Earth Hour, climate change, sustainable investment and the way we all live as earth people. But it says nothing about internal procedures such as governance, budget allocations, people management, people diversity, community involvement, purchasing policy. Governance is covered on the website, in headline terms, and their 2008 annual financial report covers management , strategy, performance against targets and financial statements. All in all, a pretty good disclosure. There are gaps, mainly relating to their internal policies and decision making processes, support for human rights, human resources management and policies etc, and the fact that you have to read two reports to understand the totality of the organization's non-financial impacts is a minor inconvenience.
Oxfam International , another UK based non-profit which brings together 13 country Oxfam organizations, has its 2007 Annual Report available on their website ,an accountability section with some further detail and a 125 page report assessing Oxfam's social impacts. But all this falls far short of a sustainability report. Very little on governance, ethics assimilation, the way they employ people or the way they impact on the environment. I couldnt find a number of how many people are employed by this organization. And what about their purchasing budget ? Any ethical purchasing? How do they manage suppliers ?
Thumbs up for
Save the Children, also a UK registered charity, you can read their Annual Report for 2007/8 - this comes very close to sustainability reporting with a strong section relating to internal governance and processes, people management, equal opportunity employment, disclosures related to ethical investing, risk management and more. They also have a Global Children's Panel, a kind of stakeholder dialogue process made up of a panel of 14 young people between the ages of 12 and 17 from 9 countries. 46% of the leadership team are women (go girls!). A great report !!

Enough with the UK, I say to myself , let's look at the USA , I answer myself. Fast forward to Feeding America. Nothing more than financial statements on this website. Yet this is a massive organisation which oversees an enormous network of foodbanks, logistics, trucks, people and more. Environmental impacts here are significant. And also environmental benefits with the amounts of food waste they avoid or reclaim . Another neat non-profit came accoss my radar in the form of StrongWomen , Strong Girls. Surely a feminist organization would be more transparent, right ? Wrong. Nothing, not even financial reports.Come on, girls, lets show 'em how its done. Global Giving is a great organization improving our society. We are treated to detalied biographies of the 22-strong executive team, and an annual report for 2007, which covers the projects GlobalGIving supports, but no additional details. How many staff are employed at this non-profit? How do they manage their carbon footprint ? How do they select, hire and fire people ?

So far, i find my search for reporting non-profits to be rather disappointing. Then i had a brainwave. I waved back. I zoomed off to the GRI reporting website and downloaded their Reports List. Of the 454 GRI reports listed as published in 2009, 9 are non-profit (one of these is the GRI itself, mentioned above.). 2 % of the total . I had a look at one of them: The Ruah 2008 Community Services Accountability and Sustainability Report. , whose mission is to
"To redress disadvantage and enhance the human spirit. Based in Australia, Ruch provides community mental health services, housing and homelessness services, and works with issues of domestic violence, addiction, employment, and family support."
What a delightful report!!! It is a self-declared C level report and meets the requirements for the UNGC Communication on Progress. They have 160 staff, use Bokashi bins for composting waste in their office locations, they have assessed their human rights compliance and developed an improvement plan, they spent 1.4% of salary budget on training, and employees receive annual performance reviews. This is an organization which is focused on their overall impact and not just the social mission which is their core "business".

The GRI has produced a NGO sector supplement, now in final draft form for public comment. The rational for NGO sustainability reports is stated as : " The public benefit nature of the NGO sector creates an additional responsibility to demonstrate that operations are consistent with the values represented." One additional indicator for NGO's for example is the issue of ethical fundraising policies and practice.

Anyway, to sum up what has become a rather long post (NB: Now is the time for ChunkyMonkey, helps keep you focused) the 8 reasons for non-profits to engage in sustainability reporting are similar to for-profit organizations:

  1. build trust with stakeholders and manage reputation proactively
  2. create a tool for structuring the process of stakeholder dialogue and engagement, and defining materiality
  3. understand, manage and improve their economic, social and environmental impacts as an organization (in addition to the effectiveness of their social/environmental programs which is their "core" mission and which they currently addressss to some degree)
  4. drive internal employee engagement
  5. support recruitment of employees and volunteers
  6. operate transparently - they have a responsibility to do so
  7. gain competitive advantage in the fundraising war
  8. ensure their own sustainability through robust internal governance, ethics and risk management practices

All these are relevant whether the operational profits are directed to the pockets of investors, or back into the community for the benefit of all. But this sector is largely unaware and unengaged in the true meaning of sustainability and the need for transparency beyond compliance and marketing.
This is why we decided, as CSR consultants with a mission to drive awareness and transparency, to offer one non-profit in Israel a FREEBIE sustainability report which we hope will start a REVOLUTION in this sector. (you can't fault us on optimism!).

elaine cohen is the joint CEO of BeyondBusiness, a leading reporting and social-environmental consulting firm . Visit our website at:

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