Making a Social Impact (Part 2)

(Part 2 of 2)

In Part 1 of this article, we talked with you about Social Impact, and how this is an opportunity for you as a CEO. It can also be a major issue for you if you ignore it. We mapped out the 3 steps you can take now to listen to your team’s perspectives and act on their ideas in a thoughtful manner, and if handled successfully – will accelerate the trajectory of your business.

In Part 1 of this article, we outlined details for helping you to take steps to Listen to your team and redefine your Mission as a team.  We even offered you a one page meeting guide that would help you get the most out of your team meeting. 

In Part 2, we are going to help you make progress on the 3rd step to your success, Creating Acceleration


Acceleration has to do with changing how fast an object is moving; the rate at which an object changes its velocity.  One of the key factors to increasing acceleration is to establish a clear direction of where you are going (your mission).  Now that you have updated and agreed on the company direction with your team, let’s move to make the impact you wanted by focusing on allocating a part of your budget to making a direct social impact.


Can we direct some of our annual budget toward social impact and responsibility? I bet we can! We can’t do millions of dollars if we are a small business, but how much can we do? Let’s figure out a plan:

  1. Allocate a $ amount toward social responsibility
    Once you and your team agree that you will budget funding toward social impact in the coming year, how do we get this done? One approach is to allocate dollars to social impact like we might for new product development. For example, at my last 2 companies, we allocated 5% and 16% of revenues respectively to new product development. Most companies are between 2% and 10% – it really depends on the type of company you are, and the stage of development you are in. To start then, could we commit to allocating 2% of your revenues in the coming year to making a social impact? What number are you comfortable with?
  2. Re-allocate what is already being spent on contributions today
    Another option is to look at the pot of money you are contributing today as a company – and reallocate it to include your social and community impact $ target. I am sure your company contributed to worthwhile causes in the past year. Can you make a list of them? Now, using the same total $ amount in the coming year (if you cannot increase), can we discuss the organizations and $ amounts we will contribute to in the coming year, incorporating our target for social impact?


So we made a decision as to how much of our company revenues we are going to contribute to social impact, but where do we specifically direct this contribution? When you meet with your team to discuss their ideas around social impact, get their ideas on where to best invest. Here is my challenge for you: Can you focus the social impact budget toward your mission and customers? If you can, this would be optimal!

To give you and your team some helpful input, you can take a look at the examples of other respected companies who have already done something. I have assembled some examples below for you. Notice how some did an excellent job tying their contributions toward their customers, their markets, and their mission (e.g. Lego focused $ toward helping children).


The Denmark-based Lego Group said it will donate $4 million to organization dedicated to supporting black children and educating all children about racial equality. Lego has also requested that members of its affiliate marketing program pause the promotion of specific playsets, many of which have a police or law enforcement theme.

Disney said it would donate $5 million towards nonprofit groups that advance social justice. In addition, through the Disney Employee Matching Gifts program, employee donations to eligible organizations will be matched.

Amazon will donate a total of $10 million to organizations that are working to bring about social justice and improve the lives of Black and African Americans. Recipients—selected with the help of Amazon’s Black Employee Network (BEN)—include (see links on each): ACLU FoundationBrennan Center for JusticeEqual Justice InitiativeLawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under LawNAACPNational Bar AssociationNational Museum of African American History and CultureNational Urban LeagueThurgood Marshall College FundUNCF (United Negro College Fund)Year Up

Brooks Running has donated $100,000 to the Equal Justice Initiative, and the company has pledged an extra dollar for every person who signs up to run with Brooks for Global Running Day (with a cap on the total donation of $250,000).

WeWork said it was directing $2 million in grants to “Black-owned WeWork businesses”.  (note contributions are focused only at their customer base)

Lyft actually created a new organization called LyftUp.  LyftUp is a collaboration between Lyft and LeBron James to get free bikes in the hands of eligible 16-20 year old’s throughout the country. They hope to empower these young people by providing free, one-year memberships to Lyft’s bikeshare program.

I picked these examples to give you some ideas on what other companies are doing, and especially to show you how some are tying the cause to the company’s mission and current customers.  Can you be creative with your team in uncovering ideas that tie to your customers and your widened company mission? 

I am confident that by working with your team on the social impact budget – you will bring your team closer together.  You will feel better, your team will feel better, and you will be making a more focused difference with the causes that are important to you.  Once you make your decision, close this out by sending something like this to your team:

Dear Associates,

Thank you for your enthusiasm and ideas around our social impact giving program for the coming year.  I am confident that together we will create positive social and community impact with our new budget commitment!

By contributing a portion of our revenues to the following organizations – and along with your personal commitments – we  are going to truly raise awareness, help our customers, and make a real difference in our community:

(List your target organizations)


Getting visible is about commitment.  And you know the saying: ‘If you want to commit to something and make yourself stand behind it – tell someone else.’  You and your team have made some important and impressive decisions together.  Now it’s time to drive this to completion by getting the word out.  And the icing on the cake for your business if you do it well? You could bring in new customers who love what you are doing with your social impact focus!

Ideas for getting visible:

1. Send a follow-up letter to Associates explaining your program and commitment

The short associate note we gave you above is a great start.  Some companies have gone further.  McDonald’s President Joe Erlinger posted a public letter to McDonald’s employees on LinkedIn saying they have “tended to stay silent on issues that don’t directly involve our business” but that they will provide “opportunities to discuss these issues and our commitment to diversity and inclusion” and encouraged employees to write in with thoughts and ideas about how the company can reinforce its commitment to its communities.

2. Send a blog or post to your Customers explaining your focus on social and community impact

American auto manufacturer General Motors has announced that it has designated $10 million to support organizations that promote inclusion and racial justice.  GM CEO Mary Barra said, “Through today’s donations, GM is taking action in helping root out intolerance, and that means racism, bigotry, discrimination and any other form of hatred. We want to be part of meaningful, deliberate change and we will not allow ourselves the passivity of urging others to act. We are taking action.”

3. Add content to your website and communicate on your social platforms

Take some steps to add content to your website and communicate on your social platforms as you roll out your new social impact programs and commitment. In terms of where you put your message on your website, there are several opportunities – your home page, your blogs, or possibly as part of your culture, values or ‘About Us’ pages.  Also, you probably already have an environmental or sustainability page on your website now.  Can you incorporate your new social impact focus into that same area?  These means on your website you are highlighting your company’s Environmental Impact and Social Impact commitments.  This will be impressive to customers! 

Here are some examples of some other company’s social statements that you and your team could modify, to summarize your company focus:

“We will create positive change with our social and community impact budget around raising awareness, growing meaningful partnerships, and creating open relationships.” 

“We reject racism. We believe in inclusivity, equality, and justice for all. Today, we are reflecting on how to help make change and are encouraging our team to do the same.”

“There is no community without unity. We stand with our friends, family, co-workers, and community members against racial inequality and injustice.”

“We strongly support the calls for equality being demanded on behalf of our colleagues, friends, family members, and neighbors.”

Work with your team to come up with the messaging and content that fits best for you and the goals you have for your program.  Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in – but also understand the risks as well.

“Execution is all about what you actually end up doing,
not what you say you are going to do in the future.”

Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan


What can you do to hold yourself accountable?

First, if you have included your team in the process up to this point, they will most likely hold you accountable.  Your associates want you to take a stand and contribute to an important cause, and I am sure will help you to see it successfully executed.

Also, another important step is to get with your financial leader and ask them to incorporate the agreed $ amount into your budget for the coming year – this will ensure your contribution gets paid out as you have committed.

Finally, I’ll give you a really big idea: Why not create a Focus and Fun Team

The mission of the Focus and Fun Team is to make sure we are executing on our mission, and living up to the cultures and values that we committed to.  If possible, we have a representative from each department on the team. Then, each member can become the main channel of communication to associates in their department.  It is a creative way to involve your team in a leadership capacity, and gain their support in rolling out programs that affect and need your front-line associates’ involvement. 

The Focus and Fun team have budget responsibility around two specific areas: 

  1. The Focus – take responsibility to ensure our company focus areas are understood, being communicated, and working in every department.  This has to do with staying focused on – and getting excited about – executing our company strategy and mission in every department.  Communication of strategy, how each person can make an impact, and execution are the key here.  People should never say, “Where are we going as a company?” – instead, we want them to be excited and say, “I love where we are going as a company, and I want to be part of it!”

  • The Fun – take responsibility to ensure our company delivers on building the culture and values we want to have as a company.  This includes organizing and conducting company-wide activities that build our teamwork and culture across the company.  This team budgets and plans all the fun activities that we want to do.  You may already have an activity committee doing this for you today – so just start there.


The bottom line is this:  As a company leader, you are dedicating time and effort to social impact for this reason: To make your company a better place to work and to create a positive social impact for your customers and in your community. And by getting your team involved – and developing together your new social contribution program for the coming year – you are going to drive excitement and cohesiveness as a team, accelerate your business, and take it all the way to the top!



Ready to explore your potential?

  1. 1-on-1 Coaching: Gary has implemented the ideas above successfully with his own teams, and he is actively refining them today with his CEO coaching customers. Can we help you implement positive results in your company? Contact Gary directly:
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