Good Competition

Get your game face on because this summer, companies, government agencies and nonprofits are all offering big bucks for game-changing ideas that contribute to the greater good. Conscious consumers and innovators are suiting up to compete for the opportunity to make an impact.

  • This week, GE announced the Ecomagination Challenge, which invites inventors, entrepreneurs and startups to compete to develop the next-generation of power grid technologies. The $200 million in prize funding will be doled out in $50,000 to $500,000 increments starting this September.
  • The EPA recently announced a National Building Competition, where commercial buildings will compete to shed the most energy waste. Fourteen buildings across the country have been selected to contend for the winner’s title.
  • Pepsi extended its Refresh Project by issuing a special Do Good for the Gulf Initiative. Starting this week, participants compete for part of the $1.3 million in grants the beverage giant has set aside for projects that help Gulf residents.
  • Also seeking to aid the Gulf crisis, the X PRIZE Foundation is developing a multi-million dollar competition for ideas that will help alleviate the effects of the BP oil spill. Although planning is still underway, oil-cleanup innovators are ramping up for what will likely be a fierce competition.

A little competition never hurt anyone, especially when the ultimate outcome is for a worthy cause; however, don’t assume such programs to be the end-all-be-all solution to your responsibility efforts. To drive ongoing consumer awareness and, ultimately, reputational benefits, competitions must stand the test of time. Consider integrating a competition into an existing cause or corporate responsibility program, or extending your present contest into an annual event.

Leading companies know corporate responsibility is more than just handing over a check. If some friendly competition is what it takes to captivate stakeholders and foster a sense of shared responsibility to solve pressing social and environmental issues – then game on!


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