Cause Countdown

In last Saturday’s New York Times, reporter Stephanie Strom featured nonprofits that close shop when the cause they set out to address no longer exists. “Mission accomplished,” the article said. And I replied, “Right on!”



Nonprofits often say they want to put themselves out of business, and I’ve long admired organizations that are truly working towards that goal. Strom’s article highlights Malaria No More, which is determined to end malaria deaths in Africa by 2015, and I would add UNICEF (Believe in Zero) and the National Breast Cancer Coalition (Breast Cancer Deadline 2020) to the list of nonprofits that are counting down to end their causes.

So why are corporate cause programs counting up? Sure, global causes are massive and no one company can do it all on its own – but companies can focus on smaller, yet meaningful targets that drive replication and yield significant results.

Global health is a great place to start. Just as March of Dimes achieved its original mission of eradicating polio in the U.S., Gates is now working to end polio worldwide. And companies who invest in health can end epidemics, too. Like polio, diseases that are preventable and long gone in developed nations are often major crises in emerging markets. Pfizer* is one company that’s not afraid to take a stand. It’s partnering with the World Health Organization to eliminate blinding trachoma by 2020.

But where are the other cool corporate examples? The truth is end goals for cause are rare – especially in the private sector. Let’s hope that is going to change. We must refocus our impact on solving problems as opposed to merely reporting beneficiary results. After all, isn’t that what sustainability is all about?

We’d love to hear your examples of corporations with specific commitments to solve issues. Share them here.

- Jillian Wilson-Martin, Account Supervisor

*Pfizer is a former Cone client.


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