Three Corporate/Social Sector Partnership Conversations I’m Having Right Now

By Diane Knoepke, Vice President, Alford Group

Over just the past few months, we have been the beneficiaries of an absolute embarrassment of riches in terms of high-powered convenings and insight-filled reports related to corporate/social sector collaboration and investment. I dare say we are seeing an unprecedented level of research and conversation about the role of companies in driving social sector outcomes and vice versa. While digesting it all can feel like sipping from a firehose, I’m finding that so many of my partnership conversations right now are coming back to three themes, all of which are supported and driven by these great insights coming from all corners of the corporate social innovation and philanthropic worlds.

#1 Heightened consumer expectations, and how companies are responding

Sixty percent (60%) of Americans now expect companies to play a greater role in society, particularly given the new administration. Tina-Marie Adams, Midwest Managing Director of APCO Worldwide, shared this data point at last month’s Social Innovation Summit, drawn from research her firm had recently completed. This is further borne out by data from Cone Communications’ 2017 CSR Study, which found that “millennials are putting their faith in companies to ignite change,” with 71% of millennials hopeful that business will take the lead (compared to U.S. average of 63%). Continue reading “Three Corporate/Social Sector Partnership Conversations I’m Having Right Now”


Welcome to the Alford Group blog – a forum of ideas, concerns, opportunities and challenges facing the nonprofit sector in North America and other nongovernmental organizations around the world.

My name is Tom Mesaros and I am the President & CEO of Alford Group.  Founded in 1979 by Jimmie R. Alford to strengthen the nonprofit community, we provide consulting services to the sector from our three offices with 30 experienced, talented and creative individuals.  Our firm’s blog will provide you an opportunity to reflect and comment on issues affecting all of us working daily in education, health care, social services, religious organizations, cultural institutions and many other nonprofits serving our communities.

I began my career working for the Chief Seattle Council, Boys Scouts of America in 1975 and my initial thought was that I would work for the Boy Scouts for a year or two and then go get a “real job.”  What I discovered was that community organizations like the Boy Scouts were doing wonderful things for youth utilizing a small staff and a very large volunteer corp.  I already had a “real job” with great career opportunities doing small things with several other quality staff people that culminated into even bigger things.

Now as a member of Alford Group, I see these “bigger things” played out across America and around the world everyday as our clients impact the lives of people locally, nationally and around the world.

Recently, I was discussing the nonprofit sector with an individual as I traveled home from LA.  His view of the industry was very small and he wondered how I could possibly make a living serving this sector, let alone have a firm of thirty individuals all focused on quality client work.  When I informed him that the nonprofit sector comprised 10.4% of the GDP and that budgets for 501(c)3 organizations ranged from hundreds of dollars to hundreds of millions of dollars, he was amazed.  For many in our society, there is an under appreciation for the breadth and depth that the nonprofit world brings to our everyday lives.  This blog will bring insights, ideas and invite additional comments from all of you and occasional guest bloggers so that there is a greater appreciation for what we do – day in and day out – and a greater understanding for how we could do it even better.

So….how do you see the nonprofit sector?  How do others perceive your work in this sector?  Is it a “big impact view” filled with an importance for everyday life or are your friends and family wondering when you will get a “real job”?

I will be adding my thoughts and ideas every week or every other week, and checking in more often than that.  I, or other Alford Group consultants, will respond to every question and comment you post to keep the discussion moving forward.  Let me know your thoughts, ideas, experiences and comments, and please subscribe to receive updates when you can find new reflections here on our blog.

All the best,