Connecting nonprofits to corporations — Introducing the CSR-Nonprofit Summit

Written for the Periclean Newsletter, which I redesigned and edited in 2011-2012. This was for the October 2012 issue, while my Periclean Scholars class was planning a long trip to India to shoot a documentary and host a conference.

Jack Dodson for the Periclean Scholars Newsletter

It’s been a few months now since it was official that the Class of 2012 was hosting a conference in Pune, India on January 20 and 21. But the details on things like this change frequently, as we’ve learned recently.

So we thought we’d take this opportunity to talk to you about what we’re actually doing. The CSR-Nonprofit Summit is about connecting the corporate social responsibility side of businesses to nonprofits in India that deal with rural development and women’s empowerment.

This theme — focusing on the importance of educating girls in rural areas to support community enrichment on the whole — is an idea we learned from the Comprehensive Rural Health Project (CRHP), our partner and one of the co-hosts of this conference. It wasn’t until we got to work with them and see hands-on how their approach was affecting the girls who came to their campus that we really understood the importance of women’s development to the whole of rural development.

What this conference hopes to do is address all of that. We want nonprofits, invited by CRHP, to talk about the issues they face every day and the ways they could use support from corporations. We’ll achieve this by not only giving them the opportunity to speak, but also by providing built-in times for networking, chats over tea and activities that are meant to engage the guests.

So a little backstory to how we ended up here: in the spring we grappled with what the conference would actually be about. We argued for scientific confer- ences over networking ones, while others pushed for a strictly academic conference. At one point, the conference was going to be simply a celebration of CRHP.

The reason we decided to go this way was simple: it gave us the opportunity to set up sessions that guests would actually learn something from, while basing the conference in an idea that would be the most practical to everyone involved. The discussions of the conference will be academic in nature, and will provide in- sight into serious issues; the conference on the whole uses this as a backdrop for connecting corporations to nonprofits that engage with these issues every day.

We’re trying to essentially push CSR wings of businesses to support the development of rural areas and the education and empowerment of girls in India—not only because we’re closely connected to those issues, but because they can inspire across-the-board change in a culture.

While our speakers are still being announced, we’re already beginning to draft the schedule of the conference and figure out how it will run. Be sure to check our conference website.



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