From Doing Good to Being Good: The Movement for Nonprofit Social Responsibility

NONPROFITS WORLDWIDE HAVE come under a sweeping movement for social responsibility. They are now engaging in all manner of prosocial activities that go well beyond their primary missions. Diversifying their boards by gender and race, paying their suppliers a fair wage, reducing their environmental footprint, and lending their voice to social causes from #MeToo to Black Lives Matter are just a few trappings of this surprising development.

As the movement has taken off, some nonprofits have formally broadened their missions to incorporate new concerns for social responsibility. In 2022, the American Hospital Association, which represents nearly 5,000 organizations in the health-care sector, revised its vision statement to insert language about justice and equity. Likewise, the Sierra Club is no longer focused narrowly on environmentalism; its “2030 Strategic Framework” also touches on antiracism, sexism, economic justice, and achieving work-life balance for its employees. Similarly, Goodwill Industries, which has a heritage statement from its founder, Rev. Dr. Edgar J. Helms, that acknowledges its history of creating employment
opportunities for those who are disabled, now stresses in its core values the broader objective of being “socially, financially, and environmentally responsible.”