Social Responsibility

Corporate Volunteerism in the Internet Age

Internet PhilanthropyHow corporations are using technology to focus their philanthropic ventures.

By Peter Asmus

Ever since 9/11, the tsunami of late 2004, and Hurricane Katrina, volunteerism – particularly at corporations – has taken off in this country. But managing the volunteer process can be a drain on human and financial resources. In response, many corporations are turning to technology to increase their responsiveness, communicate corporate policies, and coordinate and track volunteer activities.

“Technology is transforming the landscape,” says Rayna Aylward, Executive Director of the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation. “The speed of communications enables us to quickly get information to and from our employees. We’ve developed an emergency response plan in which the company CEO and foundation director will evaluate the extent of the disaster, decide on the appropriate level of response, and then activate an employee network to discuss options for employee donations and volunteer efforts.

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The Gold Standard

Earthworks hopes to apply its success with the mining industry to oil, gas, and e-technology.

By Margo Alderton


Founded in 1988 by former Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall and others as the Mineral Policy Center, the organization was formed to advocate for reforms of mining laws and to help communities facing mineral development proposals. Its efforts have expanded to support communities outside the United States and to reach out to the private sector and increase public advocacy. The name was changed to Earthworks in 2004.

Recent Campaigns

No Dirty Gold. This initiative was launched two years ago in conjunction with Oxfam to change mining practices by targeting consumers and retailers through a public campaign focused on responsibly sourced gold jewelry. Earthworks met with jewelers, non-governmental organizations, and investors to highlight the issues. The result: Tiffany & Co.

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Getting Engaged


How Gap Inc. marries corporate responsibility with better business: A conversation with Dan Henkle, Senior Vice President, Social Responsibility

If you stop into one of Gap’s U.S. retail stores in coming weeks, chances are you will—quite literally—see red. In fact, you’ll see an entire line of red clothing, part of (Product) Red, a venture in which Gap and other companies are funneling a percentage of sales or profits from red products to The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Africa. “This isn’t charity,” Gap declares on its website. “It’s a new way of doing business.”

Charting new ways of doing business around the globe is a key part of Gap’s social responsibility program. Founded as a single outlet in San Francisco in 1969, the company now has 150,000 employees worldwide, with revenue last year of $16 billion.

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