League of Corporate Foundations gives life to Corporate Social Responsibility
When corporate social responsibility (CSR) was initially synonymous to corporate philanthropy, business entities supported organizations whose goals focused generally on improving the lives of individuals and of society at large. This was done usually through corporate contributions to their own foundations, or through partner organizations espousing various causes.
Realizing the different challenges and dynamics of corporate foundations from other kinds of development organizations, this sub-sector of the Association of Foundations — 12 corporate foundations at that time — decided to establish a non-profit association to better address the needs of its small group. Thus was born the League of Corporate Foundations (LCF) in 1996.
LCF defines CSR as a corporation’s continuing commitment to perform as a responsible member of society by behaving ethically and contributing to economic development while improving the quality of life of its workforce, the community, and the environment. As such, the League has worked to become the driving force in the formation of a highly committed business sector – starting initially with its members – working effectively with communities and partner institutions toward the attainment of equitable and sustainable development.
Since its birth 15 years ago, the League of Corporate Foundations has opened its membership to corporations that undertake CSR activities. Many more corporations have joined the League in support of its vision to promote CSR and provide its stakeholders with effective and strategic corporate social investments.
“Our goal is to keep on increasing awareness of CSR, and we can do that by offering our members timely and accurate information on the standards and benchmarks of CSR,” said Cecile Alcantara, League of Corporate Foundations president.
Now with over 70 members, the League of Corporate Foundations seeks to help its members achieve satisfactory social investment scorecard ratings. “We also provide our members with guidelines on capacity-building, networking, and partnerships that can help them achieve their goals business-wise while maintaining their CSR initiatives,” added Alcantara.
The League of Corporate Foundations consists of six committees namely, arts and culture, education, environment, enterprise development, health, and communications. These committees, aided by the League’s secretariat, organize events within the country that are participated in by its members and other CSR practitioners.
Because the League of Corporate Foundations’ CSR promotion is a nationwide campaign, it does not only work for its members. When the first week of July was declared as National CSR Week through an administrative order in 2001, the League of Corporate Foundations organized its first week-long CSR celebration, starting with a photo exhibit of the work of its members. This modest gathering of members, partners and friends from the business sector and civil society was followed by the “enrolment” of different CSR activities by various corporations to highlight CSR in action.
Since then, the celebration has evolved into a major Expo-Conference where various CSR practitioners and sector representatives share knowledge and insights on how CSR can be effectively practiced so that it continues to serve the common good. Aside from CSR knowledge sharing and CSR promotion, the CSR Expos of the League have become a venue to influence more corporations to really take CSR to heart.
Now on its 10th year, the CSR Expo 2011 will take CSR to new heights. “The League aims to take CSR a level higher because for years, we have been talking about CSR updates – new trends, new practices – but we haven’t been focused on how to bank on these developments to achieve our primary goal,” explained Alcantara. She further stated that this year celebrates three major events in CSR: the League’s 15th anniversary, the CSR Expo’s 10th year, and the International Year of Volunteerism.
Aside from its annual CSR Expos, the League of Corporate Foundations also runs a CSR capacity-building program that aims to professionalize the practice of CSR of its members and other business entities that wish to strengthen their CSR initiatives. This program, in effect the “CSR Think Tank” of the LCF, also conducts workshops and forums on how to achieve business goals and still practice CSR, has helped craft a CSR curriculum for the tertiary level, and produces CSR-related research studies and publications.
“We will continue blazing the trail to sustainability as we go further,” stated Alcantara. “With the support from different CSR practitioners, we can work more efficiently and effectively for a better tomorrow.”
The League of Corporate Foundations is a network of over 70 operating and grant-making corporate foundations and corporations that promotes and enhances the strategic practice of Corporate Social Responsibility among its members and the larger business community, towards sustained national development.