Social Investment | Committing to Solving a Social Problem


Excerpt from the Corporate Grantmaking Program Guide

Social Investment

Paul Klein recently released a new book, Change for Good1, where he differentiates between ‘CSR Lite’ and the idea of social investment or ‘change for good’.

The idea of social investment is committing to solving a social problem, requiring the investment of human capital and financial capital. Companies and the community benefit from the solved social problem and this approach increases the likelihood of ensuring social change.2

This type of investment in making a difference and ensuring that social change results are measurable is more than making donations to effective charities. You will want to prove the value of your grants, volunteerism, and other philanthropic activities to your board and other stakeholders. You will want to make investment decisions that move the needle on the causes your company and employees care about, so you’ll need to set your programs up for success in measuring your CSR impact. 

“There has never been a time when so many people are aware of the need for social change and are taking action. By applying human capital in ways that make sense for volunteers and for the recipient of their service we can help solve the world’s most pressing problems.”

Three Ways to Accelerate Social Change3

All the varieties of corporate giving programs usually fall within two categories: Monetary Grantmaking and In-kind Donations.

Monetary Grantmaking

Arguably the most common form of corporate giving programs where companies provide funding or cash donations to causes. These can be managed through formalized 501c3 corporate foundations or given directly from the company to the cause or organization.

In-kind Donations

Any product a company donates from retail items, sports tickets, technology or even gift cards. Any company can benefit from being able to track those donations and tally up their value and impact.

We have seen a lot of unique corporate community investment grant programs over the years. Before we dive into best practices, we thought it was important to show some of the benefits of developing long-term commitments and measuring impact as well as discuss how to build flexibility into community investment to allow for a more impactful response during times of need like disaster.

Checkout our guide to continue reading and learning about community investment.


  1. Change for Good: An Action Oriented Approach for Businesses to Benefit from Solving the World’s Most Urgent Social Problems
  3. Three Ways to Accelerate Social Change