In Pro Bono We Trust (from The pARTnership Movement)

Posted by Tim McClimon On November - 15 - 2012

Tim McClimon

The week before Hurricane Sandy turned the East Coast upside down, American Express and other companies joined the Taproot Foundation in celebrating Pro Bono Week.

We participated by hosting a Scope-a-thon, an effort to engage our employees in helping to scope projects from nonprofits in order to prepare them to more fully benefit from pro bono consulting in the future.

We had 35 American Express employees in our New York office assist 11 nonprofits in a three-hour marathon Scope-a-thon. The nonprofits included:

  • Brooklyn Public Library
  • City Parks Foundation
  • Creative Alternatives of New York
  • GallopNYC
  • God’s Love We Deliver
  • Historic House Trust
  • Japan Society
  • Neighborhood Housing Services of NYC
  • New York Blood Center
  • Reel Works Teen Filmmaking
  • Studio Museum in Harlem

The Taproot Foundation did a terrific job of structuring the conversation around these four questions:

1. First, what hurts?
2. Next, what are some ways to fix it?
3. So, what’s the specific prescription?
4. And finally, what’s the treatment plan?

The response from both employees and nonprofits was extremely positive. 100 percent of employees said that they would participate again and refer the program to a colleague. One employee went so far as to say that it was her “best day” at American Express. Read the rest of this entry »

It Only Takes One: How an Emerging Arts Leader Can Impact a Community

Posted by Angela Harris On March - 27 - 2012

Angela Harris

When I received the call from Americans for the Arts saying that I had been selected to receive the 2011 American Express Emerging Leaders Award, I had so many emotions.

I was thrilled that the panel appreciated the impact that I was making in the community. I was proud that all of the hard work and countless hours that I had invested into starting a nonprofit and growing from the ground up were being recognized; and I was nervous about the future and committed to making sure that I lived up to the honor of the award.

2012 has been a wonderful season of accomplishments for both me and my organization, Dance Canvas. Since June, when I received the award, I have cultivated a new choreographic partnership with Kennesaw State University, which will be developed into a new track and choreographic options for the students of the dance department.

I also began a new partnership with Career Transition for Dancers, and worked in conjunction with the Los Angeles-based organization to provide career training to dancers and choreographers in Atlanta.

Artistically, Dance Canvas partnered with the Rialto Center for the Arts to provide creative connections to involve the community in educational outreach and residencies. These community connections allowed Dance Canvas to work with The Trey McIntyre Project, and with the French Consulate of Atlanta to present a master class by Pierre Rigal’s production, Asphalte. Read the rest of this entry »

Partners in Preservation (from The pARTnership Movement)

Posted by Tim McClimon On February - 2 - 2012

Tim McClimon

Historic Preservation may not be the first thing that pops into your mind when you think of the arts or corporate philanthropy, but the preservation, restoration, and reuse of cultural assets like historic buildings, monuments, and parks can revitalize neighborhoods, stimulate tourism and local economies, and preserve our natural resources by conserving energy and reducing our carbon footprint.

American Express has a long history of partnerships in historic preservation.

We made our first historic preservation grant in 1974 to the National Park Service to assist with the planning for the renovation and restoration of the Statue of Liberty as part of the U.S. Bicentennial Celebration in 1976.

The company went on to sponsor the first national cause-related marketing campaign aimed at restoring the Statue of Liberty in 1983. (Our first corporate involvement with the Statue of Liberty actually dates back to 1885 when American Express asked company employees to contribute money toward the construction of the Statue’s pedestal–our first employee giving campaign!)

Our first international grant in historic preservation was made in 1977 to help save the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. American Express was the first private organization to donate funds to UNESCO for this restoration. We went on to work with the World Monuments Fund in the establishment of the Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in 1996, and we were the corporate sponsor of this list for the next ten years, helping to preserve 126 historic sites in 62 countries. Read the rest of this entry »

Five Trends to Watch in Corporate Social Responsibility

Posted by Tim McClimon On August - 8 - 2011

Tim McClimon

Much has been written about the current state of corporate social responsibility (CSR), and depending on your point of view, its waxing or waning influence inside the world’s largest corporations.

While it may be true that some companies have de-emphasized their CSR programs while they were fighting for survival or focused on maintaining some semblance of order, I think corporate social responsibility will continue to grow in importance inside most major publicly traded companies – particularly those who are interested in enhancing their reputations with stakeholders (and isn’t that just about every company?).

Here are five trends in CSR that I think are worth watching in 2011 and 2012. These aren’t new – most of them have been around for years – but I think they will gain more attention in the coming year.

1. Responsibility as a company value

While you would expect to see words like “responsibility,” “sustainability,” “respect,” and “citizenship” in mission statements and corporate values at companies like Ben & Jerry’s, Tom’s of Maine, and Starbucks, these concepts are showing up in statements of companies like Adobe, PepsiCo, and Walmart as well. Read the rest of this entry »