CSR: Why Do I Do It?

Friday, February 23, 2007 7:55
Posted in category Uncategorized

Last week while at the SCAA adoption happy hour I was asked “Why do you do it?

the question was asked while I was talking to someone about the fact that I am involved in NGO and CSR issues in China through my involvement with Hands On Shanghai and AmCham. This is not the first time I have been asked this question, nor do I expect it to be the last.

Since day one, people have questioned why I would do it, and many try to find ways that I am leveraging HOS to benefit myself…. I must be using HOS to gain access to new clients is the most prevalent… and the most offesive to me. However, what I realized is that this line of thought is not directed necessarily towards me, but is the result of a number of people previously using charity for other purposes (tax shelters, public image, business development, etc), and it is when pondering this that I realize how fine the public line is between doing good to do good and doing good to look good….

Typically when asked this question, there are three situations through which the question arrises: (1) I am being interviewed by a member of the media; (2) I am being asked by a HOS volunteer or corporate member as a part of an event; or (3) I am talking to a skeptic.

In this case it was 1 and 3 as she was a reporter (one that I know and think highly of her writing) and she was a skeptic (she thought I must have some for profit gain through my non-profit activities).

So, with this post, I will address her question publically:

Because I can and I should.

That’s it. It is that simple.

Because I can and I should.

I apologize to those of you who were looking for more, but there really isn’t anything else. It really comes down to that, and it is the reason why I started HOS, why I support AmCham’s CSR comittee, why I recently started Crossroads with 2 friends, and why I am always happy to work with companies to develop their understanding of CSR in China.

I recognized a long time ago that I could not cure the world of it ails. issues like AIDS, poverty, war, and hunger were just too big for me, and for most people (Bill Gates, Bono, and Warren Buffet excluded), but that there were ways that I could make an impact and affect change. Volunteering with Habitat 4 Humanity and Hands On San Francisco were two excellent examples of this for me…..

And it only took me 3 months in Shanghai to see that by combining my 2 years of experience with Hands On San Francisco, Shanghai’s glut of young professionals, Shanghai’s need, and my entrenprenurial drive that Hands On Shanghai would work. That the platform would bring to Shangahi a new platform that would have a postive impact on shanghai, and assist existing Shanghai based organizations develop their own capabilities to then affect more change through their own platforms.

Managing HOS has been the biggest challendge I have experience in life, and when things are going right it is my greatest source of pride. Of course, assisting for clients brings sense of acomplishment and reward, but the feeling is not the same, and I have found that I need both.

Often, even when I am dead tired, I will sacrifice sleep for HOS as I know that I am the bottleneck, that the ability of HOS to really assist the community depends on my abilitiy to manage growth, idenitify new partners, increase the size of our volunteer pools (corporate and individual), update the website, write the news letters, email HQ, and manage 100 other things.

Sound like running a busines? Well, it is, and anyone who thinks that anyone would willingly get involved at this level as a mean to develop their image, develop a for profit business, etc just does not uderstand what running an NGO involves. If they did, they would realize there are much cheaper, easier, and more effective ways of doing that.

So again. why do I do it?

Because I can and I should.

Of course, there are a number of benefits that come with my involvement: it feels good looking back at the progress, I get to be apart of change .. good change, I get to meet like minded people who are more pasionate about their work than most 9-to-5er in the corporate world, etc.

But I don’t do it for the side benefits. I do it

Because I can and I should.

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3 Responses to “CSR: Why Do I Do It?”

  1. China Law Blog says:

    February 24th, 2007 at 6:05 am

    Maybe I am strange, but I would NEVER ask the question (not even in my head) as to why someone engages in charitable actions and I think that is the complete wrong question to ask. I just do not see why the motive matters and I also see discerning the motive as impossible. The reality is that each of us does things for a million reasons (many of which we either do not know ourselves) and since actions speak louder than words and since actions can be discerned and motives cannot, I view this sort of navel gazing as nothing but a waste of time. You do the work and that is all.

  2. rbrubaker says:

    February 24th, 2007 at 6:48 am

    Hi Dan,

    You don’t even take Saturday’s off?

    You aren’t strange for not asking that question… I actually think being asked the question is strange….and I agree that actions should speak louder than words and that there are a million reasons that motivate us (although I have had a professor that said everything is done for food, money, and love)

    While I was attempting to address a question that I have probably been asked 100+ times in the last couple of years, I am also hoping to motivate more people who may not fully recognize that they two can help (lawyers can do probono work for underprivileged for example).

    Maybe that is too lofty of a goal for this blog, but next week I will be posting a “why you should .. and how you can do it” post …. that one may be more relevant to those who are looking to get themselves or their companies involved in their communities.

  3. China Law Blog says:

    February 24th, 2007 at 2:39 pm

    You are right that asking the question is strange and maybe people ask it to justify their not doing such work themselves. I think a post on how to do it makes great sense.