As originally published on 

The new decade ushers in fresh opportunities for social impact to evolve, deepen and expand. While no one has a crystal ball into the future, savvy social impact agencies and practitioners can provide insights into where corporate social impact programs may be heading in the future.

We’ve reached out to some thought leaders in our space asking 1) what they’ll be counseling their corporate and nonprofit clients to focus on in 2020 and 2) what social impact trends they’re keeping an eye on.

What will you be counseling your clients to focus on in 2020?

Be Bold, Think Differently

Corporate giving is growing five times faster than individual giving. This presents a lot of opportunity and pressure for nonprofits to remain competitive. The theme in 2020 is to be bold, think differently and build partnerships that create solutions. Gone are the days of blank checks and transactional sponsorships. Corporate Fundraisers will turn into social enterprise specialists, solution-finders, and drivers of collaboration in 2020. 

-Accelerist’s Brittany Hill

Environmental, Social And Governance (ESG) Reporting

Increased focus on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Investing. We know consumers want to align their spending with their values. In 2020, they will continue to do that through their investment portfolios. Companies need to focus more than ever on ESG scoring and reporting in order to stand out.

-Brodeur’s Scott Beaudoin

Alignment and Integration Of Values Across An Entire Organization

Invest in deeper integrations in partnership work. Consumers today, especially Gen Z and Millennials, want to see true connections and meaningful impact beyond one-time campaigns. Causes and companies will need to work harder than ever before to ensure cause efforts are ‘authentigrated’ by all partners and not at risk of being seen as cause-jacked promotional stunts. ‘Authentigration’ is a new term I’ve coined to represent the trend of consumers and employees demanding closer mission and brand alignment throughout a company’s purpose-driven activities. 

-For Momentum’s Mollye Rhea

Looking at the interconnection and alignment of a company’s various efforts. Given that private decisions and public actions are merging, companies need to think about the impact of their actions (or inactions) across the business. It’s why rankings like Just Capital’s Just Companies is growing in stature because it looks at how a company prioritizes fair pay, equal treatment, strong communities and a healthy planet. We have always counselled our clients on this but not with the same urgency and leadership as we will in 2020.

PUBLIC Inc.’s Phil Haid

Impact Reporting 2.0

The definition of unrestrictive funds and how a nonprofit defines the use of those funds will have to evolve. As companies feel more pressure to clearly define their social and environmental commitment, more and more they will want to define what areas of impact they are funding and specifically how those funds are used. Call it Impact Reporting 2.0. It doesn’t mean that unrestricted funds cannot be secured, it just means there needs to be an evolution in defining funding intent and goals, and then reporting on the use of those specific unrestricted funds. 

-OnPurpose’s Maureen Carlson

What social impact trends will you be closely monitoring this year?

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

How companies and nonprofits will collaborate to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through their corporate partnership and CSR efforts. The UN has recognized that achieving sustainable development requires the active participation of all sectors of society, including businesses and non-governmental organizations. The SDGs, adopted by all UN member states, aim to achieve peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future, to build a better world and provide a globally adopted framework for companies and charities to apply as they work achieving long-term, positive social impact.

-Perlman & Perlman’s Karen Wu

Board And Investor Demand

Board and investor demand for companies to define their social and environmental efforts and impact. Pressure is not just coming from employees and customers anymore, its coming from boards and investors. I will be following how that pressure accelerates social good plans in corporations that were idling in their social impact commitment.

-OnPurpose’s Maureen Carlson

Commitment To Climate Change

Consumers making purchasing decisions based on a company’s commitment to climate change.  2020 will be the year consumers reward brands who commit to being carbon neutral or carbon positive and who make it visible to them. Organizations like Climate Neutral will make it easier for brands to do this. The nonprofit organization aims to help brands reduce their carbon footprints and provide them with a certification label to put on their consumer products.  More than 70 brands have signed up so far and likely many more to come.

-Brodeur’s Scott Beaudoin

Artificial Intelligence

I’m very passionate about creating and using technology to make great change in the world, so I will be watching how brands, nonprofits and social enterprises continue to use AI for good. It’s fascinating to live in a world where robots could help eradicate disease, support poverty-stricken communities, and deliver the information we need to find solutions for the homeless epidemic! 

-Accelerist’s Brittany Hill

AI. It is impacting every aspect of our lives and I want to better understand how it can be leveraged for social impact and profit with purpose. 

-PUBLIC Inc.’s Phil Haid

One thing’s for certain: 2020 will be an action-packed year for the corporate social impact community as companies and causes continue to refine their approach to partnering together to build a better world and the bottom line.