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Campus Social Responsibility

Higher education institutions are part of the ecosystem of good that helps shape a better, more just, and more sustainable future. Advancement organizations must prioritize these ideas just as much as their community does.  

But social responsibility is more than simply responding to a movement with a statement or donation. It is a mindset that permeates an institution and infuses every aspect of its work. It must be woven into the fabric of the entire culture, involving faculty, staff, students, and alumni at all levels.  

Embracing ESG, DEI, and Social Justice

Environmental Social Governance (ESG) programs are not a new concept, but they are being adopted more widely. Originally, ESG frameworks were outlined so that investment companies could integrate these issues into investment analysis. Now, ESG isn’t just for public companies or consumer-driven industries. Nor is it just for companies that directly contribute to environmental concerns. ESG can be for everyone, no matter what industry your organization falls into. Many higher education institutions are adding ESG measurements and practices into their social responsibility efforts. 

Recent social movements have also pushed institutions to learn even more about their role and obligation to add their voice to the call for social justice. Colleges and universities have already demonstrated their commitment to social justice through scholarships, financial aid, outreach and service programs, and need-blind admissions processes. Leaders are now going even further by learning how to talk about race and acknowledging the role that enslaved people played in establishing institutions. Some colleges and universities are renaming buildings and removing statues, reviewing tenure programs, and examining race and ethnic studies, among other initiatives.  

Modern organizations are finding that improving their governance procedures did not strain budgets or dampen financial performance; on the contrary it maximized productivity, ensured efficiency, and led to recruiting and utilizing superior management talents. 


Employee Giving

Faculty and staff make tangible contributions. They provide routine support to students, they serve as committee members, they are student advisors, they create campus communities, they contribute to shared governance, and they influence your school culture. These contributions, whether they are formally recognized or not, should underpin your strategy for employee and workplace giving. Employees who give beyond the expectations of their role are the embodiment of academic citizenship.  

Charitable giving is intrinsically driven, and it often shows that employees give back because their values harmonize with the philanthropic values that your institution holds. Employees should feel that they are giving more than just a donation and that their gifts are investments in the future of your institution and the community it serves. Here are a few tips as you shape your employee giving program: 

  • Engage your faculty and staff appropriately. Recognize the contributions they’ve already made by being a part of your academic community. Recognize that each employee-given gift, large or small, is likely a representation of a significant gift for that particular donor. 
  • The campaign should focus on your employees and should emphasize their endorsement of your institution and their support of your mission. Your work should communicate that every contribution and every contributor is important. 
  • Include your employees in your annual campaign. In your annual appeals, make sure to include two messages: 
    • First, remind your employees that in the face of uncertain state and government funding, additional support is needed to help your university maintain its excellence.  
    • Donors are more likely to contribute if they are offered giving opportunities that align with their personal interests. Let your employees know that their donations can go to a program of the employee’s choice, so that faculty and staff feel that they can have a direct impact by re-investing into his or her area. 
    • Assign ambassadors to your employees. Energize them by giving them progress reports and saluting their efforts. Mid-way through your campaign, check in with ambassadors to determine what additional support they may need.  
  • Meet employees where they are by providing a mix of giving channels: an annual campaign with year-round giving with multiple ways to give, payroll deduction, credit card, debit card or check. 

For more information on this topic, please visit: Corporate Giving