Discussions about corporate social responsibility are often about how it could bolster the company's bottom line or offer a favorable image of the company. Although these objectives may be real, they can unwittingly create a divisive feeling between well-meaning corporations and the nonprofits they are serving.
However, companies like Box are taking a much more partnership-centric approach to social impact programs, as evidenced at its recent annual conference, BoxWorks. This fundamental shift involves a more thoughtful approach to aligning corporate values with the organizations that Box serves. Box has also joined the Pledge 1% movement, which is a commitment to give 1 percent of funding, products, or services directly to nonprofits.
Here are four ways Box.org advanced its commitment to social responsibility at its most recent technology conference.
1. Offer Scholarships to Nonprofit Employees to Attend the Technology Conference
Although the metric of success for a corporation or startup is revenue, and for nonprofits it's impact, they both face similar challenges. Understanding how to optimize your company or organization affects both revenue and measurements of impact. Many tech conferences offer viable solutions to some of these everyday problems.
However, tickets to these conferences are typically priced beyond a justifiable cost for most nonprofits — excluding them from access to fresh, innovative ideas and networking opportunities. Box.org offered 800 scholarships to nonprofit employees to attend the BoxWorks conference. These scholarships gave nonprofits the opportunity to join the conversation and avoid lagging behind when it comes to tech innovation.
2. Treat Nonprofits as an Important Sector
Segmenting conferences by sector can be helpful because it gives attendees the opportunity to network with peers and discuss challenges unique to that sector. BoxWorks had a dedicated nonprofit track and Box.org conference space that was side by side with other verticals. That setup allowed attendees the opportunity to see how each industry is approaching prevalent challenges.
Having this holistic insight gave nonprofit leaders the opportunity to learn and apply innovative ideas that technology companies are implementing. They could explore topics like cloud integration or the application of machine language and artificial intelligence.
In addition to integrating the nonprofit track in the main schedule, one of the keynote speakers was Kimberly Bryant. She's the CEO and founder of Black Girls Code, a nonprofit that focuses on providing technology education for African-American girls.
3. Have a Volunteer Station Where People Can Donate Labor to Nonprofits
Most conferences have an exhibit area where attendees can network, learn about new products, or check out product prototypes. A visit to the Box.org booth gave attendees the opportunity to volunteer on-site during their downtime by helping International Rescue Committee (IRC) assemble hygiene kits.
That volunteer work directly supported Box.org's and IRC's goal of helping 400 refugees. This station offered a constructive way for attendees to spend their downtime and drove awareness of IRC's mission.
4. Promote Texting to Drive Donations to Nonprofits During the Conference
Box set a goal of raising a matchable donation of $23,000 each that would be donated to Black Girls Code, International Rescue Committee, and Think of Us during the conference. It encouraged attendees to text "box" to a specific number that drove people to the Box.org Community Impact Center. From there, attendees were prompted to donate, with matching funds from Box.org and Box executives.
It was admirable to see Box taking impact into account at its recent conference.
Additional Resources: Box for Nonprofits
- If you are interested in learning more about the nonprofit sessions at BoxWorks, visit the Box Nonprofit Community page.
- You can find information about the Box.org Donation Program on TechSoup.org.