Clif Bar & Company, Conagra Brands, General Mills, Keurig Dr Pepper, and The Hershey Company are standouts when it comes to community-mindedness, according to nonprofit organization Points of Light. These five food companies made this year’s The Civic 50, which recognizes businesses with U.S. operations and revenues of $1 billion or more for their community engagement programs.

Now in its seventh year, The Civic 50 rates companies on four criteria:

  • Investment: How extensively and strategically the company applies its resources to community engagement in the United States, including employee time and skills, cash, in-kind giving, and public leadership.
  • Integration: How a company’s U.S. community engagement program supports business interests and integrates into business functions, or how it “does well by doing good.”
  • Institutionalization: How the company supports community engagement in the United States through its organizational policies, systems, and incentives.
  • Impact: How the company measures the social and business outputs and outcomes of its U.S. community engagement program.

The five food companies on the list have dedicated significant resources to engaging their communities. For example, since 2011, Keurig Dr Pepper’s Let’s Play initiative has provided $38.5 million in funding, equipment, and play spaces for children. Last year, Hershey provided more than 133,000 volunteer hours and $10.9 million to community nonprofits.

Natalye Paquin, president and CEO of Points of Light, said in a press release: “This year’s honorees of The Civic 50 collectively gave $2.3 billion to their communities – often giving 50% more than other companies, and volunteered for more than 10.5 million hours in 2019. These results exemplify exceptional corporate leadership in community and civic engagement.”

In the past, community engagement might have been a nice-to-have. Today, it’s business-critical. Study after study has found that today’s consumers expect more from the brands they purchase than a good product, and they’re putting their money where the mouth is when it comes to values. Here are a few examples:

  • 68% of consumers want to support companies that share their social, political, and environmental values (source).
  • 88% of consumers want brands to help them be more environmentally friendly and ethical in their daily life (source).
  • 84% of consumers say they seek out responsible products whenever possible, and 81% cite availability of these products as the largest barrier to not purchasing more (source).

It’s not just consumers who are interested in these things. The younger members of the workforce are, too.

  • 76% of Millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work, and 64% won’t take a job from a company that doesn’t have strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices (source).
  • For Millennials, participating in workplace volunteer activities is associated with job satisfaction, loyalty, and pride (source).
  • Almost one-quarter of employers now offer paid time off for volunteering (source).

Many food companies, especially big ones, are struggling to attract and retain both customers and employees. The combined results of these studies and others like them suggest that increased community-mindedness might help these companies better reach their target audiences.

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