Organization

The Business of Giving Visits the Offices of CECP

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The importance of corporate culture is overlooked by too many nonprofit organizations. Their belief that the mission and cause is enough to motivate employees is misguided. There are a number of nonprofits, however, who understand this and have invested time and resources to develop a robust and healthy work culture.

Better Than Most is a feature of the Business of Giving program that examines what makes these places so darn special. We kick off this series with my visit to CECP –The CEO Force for Good. In the podcast below you will hear from the staff on what makes for a healthy work environment.

One of the most important things they address is Clarity. Culture is simply clarity magnified….from the shared stories of why Paul Newman help found CECP to how everyone in the organization has a stake in the outcome of their work. There is a crystal clear and concise sense of expectations, priorities and accountability. When an organization has that they minimize the chance that confusion, chaos and internal sniping will occur.

Listen to this and the other observations made by the exceptional staff of CECP. My thanks and gratitude to those who participated: Daryl Brewster, Sara Adams, Jessica Albano, Jinny Jeong, Erin Peirson, Andre Solorzano, and Lauren Kahn.

Transcript

Daryl: I think CECP, the Corporate Force for Good, really plays at a powerful intersection between where business is and for-purpose or nonprofit organizations are. Founded by Paul Newman, the actor/salad dressing maker and leading CEOs with the belief that business can and should be a force for good in society.

Jackie: I have never had a chance to work for any company, nonprofit or for-profit that has been so concise in what is expected of us–from deliverables and priorities to just a general sense of the attitude that you bring to work. That is extremely helpful in knowing what I need to do to be successful at CECP. The sense of accountability is also very concise: you know what you are suppose to do everyday, you what you need to do and how to get there. But you also know who you can talk to if you need help. And you know that you have to be a responsible person. Things in that other people holds you responsible to deliver on.

Andre: I was having a discussion with my best friend and he’s looking for a new job because one of the things he’s totally hating at the place where he works is that he doesn’t know what’s going on at his company. He doesn’t really know what are his supervisor’s goal or what’s the roadmap–that doesn’t create any sense of stability for him. So that definitely is not the case at CECP and I’ve mentioned to him we indeed have a weekly staff meeting which we can share our priorities, what everybody’s working on and ask for help if you need it. So that’s something that I really appreciate.

Sarah: In some of the other organizations I’ve worked at, you’re very much in a silo. You’re very much just working on your own team; not really sure what’s going on on another teams, but and it might be a product of communications where I’m on that team. We have to know what’s going on in every other team, but we do really a good job of not only the Monday team meetings but we do quarterly planning. We do an annual retreat. We’re thinking about the big goals of the company together. We’re all very invested in the strategic planning of the organization. We understand the mission and the vision.

Lauren: I would say that I’ve really, out of everywhere that I’ve worked, I’ve had the chance to blossom here. From the work life fit balance that we have, from having the freedom to be able to discover new projects and also the myriad of opportunities to explore professional development. Programs has really changed me and turned me into a really well-rounded professional and I’m so happy to be a part of the organization

Erin: What do you brag about? I think the single biggest thing that I can brag about is being able to rub shoulders with people like the President of the Ford Foundation or the CEO’s of Walmart or UPS. I’ve never thought that I would have that kind of opportunity and it’s fun to be able to talk to a friend who works for that company and say, “I’ve met your CEO”. So it’s a real testament to the importance and stickiness in CECP that we’re able to have these substantive conversations with some of these amazing amazing individuals.

Jinny: And what inspires me to succeed everyday. I believe that the confidence in what CECP is able to deliver in terms of our knowledge and our expertise in the field helps to insure that we’re being inspired everyday. We know that CECP is the only one that’s able to deliver specific data or specific knowledge. Harnessing the experience of the staff as well as our former interactions in our everyday communications with different companies. It’s that confidence that we’re the only ones out there who can excel, who could deliver, who can produce specific results that companies need.

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Also, hear my recent interview with Daryl Brewster, the President and CEO of CECP. CECP is a coalition of CEOs united in the belief that societal improvement is an essential measure of business performance.

In this interview from The Business of Giving, Daryl Brewster, CECP’s chief executive officer and the former president of Nabisco, discusses what influences companies’ decision on what causes to support. He also shares advice on how nonprofits and corporations can partner more effectively offers thoughts on the future of corporate social responsibility.

Interview Transcript: Andrea Jung and The Fastest Growing Microfinance Organization in the US

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Andrea Jung, President and CEO of Grameen America

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Grameen America is the fastest-growing microfinance organization in the United States, giving very small loans to women in poverty to build businesses.  They have helped over 70,000 women and have a remarkable payback rate of 99.6%, according to Andrea Jung, their President and CEO.

In this segment from The Business of Giving, Ms. Andrea Jung, who previously served as the CEO of Avon Products for 12 years, discusses the importance of social capital and outlines how to take a nonprofit to scale.  She also shares how she is going about making Grameen America a sustainable enterprise and what inspired her to move from the corporate world to the nonprofit sector.

Denver: The United States has been very reluctant to take ideas that have shown great promise in the developing world, and with a little bit of tweaking, see whether they just might work here. But one organization that has broken with that convention and with remarkable success is Grameen America. It is indeed a great pleasure to have with us this evening the President and CEO of Grameen America, Andrea Jung. Good evening, Andrea, and welcome to The Business of Giving.

Andrea: Good evening, Denver. It’s great to be here with you.

Denver: Give our listeners a brief overview of Grameen America — the mission and goals of the organization.

Andrea: Grameen America is, today, the fastest growing microfinance organization in the United States. We are in 11 cities. We have 18 branches and essentially, we give non-recourse, very small loans to women and their families in poverty. They have to use them to build entrepreneurial businesses,  and we help them be banked. For the first time, many women are not banked in poverty in the United States, and we also help them build a credit score. (more…)