Emerging Leader Nominee
Submitted by Lucy Beadnell, Director of Advocacy at The Arc of Northern Virginia, www.thearcofnova.org
1. Why do you believe CSR is an important part of your personal brand?
As a non-profit organization, we are mission focused in all that we do. We were founded by families desperate to make futures for their children with developmental disabilities, and have dedicated all of our work to advancing the human and civil rights of people with developmental disabilities. Over our 55 year history, we have done this is many ways, always following the needs and wishes of people with disabilities and their families. Each time someone visits, writes, or calls to tell us that we helped them find the key that unlocked a world of options for their loved ones, we are spurred onward. Our commitment to people who need us, and to find corporate and other partners who can help us meet that need, has kept us flexible, helpful, and relevant for more than half a century.
2. Do you believe that the CSR work you participate in should be affiliated with the work you/your company does? For example, should an Oil company’s CSR be in cleaning up oil spills?
We all have a duty to give back, to create a supported community, and to share our gifts. As long as we do that and our guided by our conscious, I think we are still on course. Tying CSR work to the fundamental work of an organization makes sense and is a tremendous way to support our community, but never miss the opportunity to find causes that are just as meaningful as you talk to staff about the causes that influence their lives and to partners about what they see as broad community needs.
3. Do you believe contributing back to the community allows you to have a deeper connection with your clients/customers?
At The Arc of Northern Virginia, I really feel like our clients, customers, and families are the community. Every community event we attend, we meet a family personally in need of our work. In working with those families, we find new doors to other people in need and new community opportunities. I feel like we operate in a beautiful loop where with each community engagement brings more families to us and each family links us back to a part of their community.
4. What are some events or causes that inspire you?
Every day, I am inspired by the people with developmental disabilities I meet at The Arc of Northern Virginia. I work with people who were told, as children, they weren’t eligible to go to public school, yet they learned and persevered. I know people who spent decades of their lives in institutions, yet leapt at the chance to move into their community, where they now thrive. Too many people we care about are told they aren’t smart enough or can’t work and be successful, but every day I meet someone who proves the naysayers wrong and who struggled to be given the same chances most of our population is given without question. I work with every day heroes.
5. What advice would you give to individuals trying to find a cause in which to participate?
Corporations should not have to look any further than their own staff to find a cause that is meaningful to their mission and team. Staff members often have tremendous suggestions for groups that have helped them, or their families, directly and need greater support from corporate partners. At The Arc of Northern Virginia, some of our greatest partners are corporations whose staff talked about the value of The Arc’s services and how we were there when their family needed us. Those bonds really create the feeling of a community where everyone gives what they can.
By Carlos Cruz
It is in a corporation’s best interest to strategically push their value-driven corporate messaging whenever and wherever they can. Here are the reasons why:
Corporate Messaging reinforces your target audience's identity.
People like to associate themselves with others who have the same mindset as they do. It’s like being friends with someone because they like the same hobbies you do.
Corporate messaging builds a community around the same set of values you cherish. In the case of AirBnb, their strategy was to send a message that acceptance of everyone (regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or other external factors) is a common human value that most can agree upon (however, at times we may need to be reminded of this).
Create corporate messages that make your target audience proud to associate themselves with you.
Corporate Messaging reinforces brand identity.
When a corporate message is done well and communicated often, those tactics boost brand identity. When a corporate message is value-driven, it often creates a positive association with your company.
Corporate Messaging told as a story, stick better.
Why is it that you are more likely to remember childhood stories like “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” or “The Three Little Pigs” than a 30-page report on whatever it is you specialize in? For 27,000 years, humans have been telling stories to communicate information with one another. Stories connect people. Often, you will find a company’s background explaining why they choose to carry certain values. Blending your corporate messaging with a story will make your company memorable.
Remember, values are what brings all of us together. Make sure that your corporate messaging has a value-driven approach.