The $45 billion deal to acquire Texas utility TXU should be a wakeup call for nonprofits and charitable foundations that claim they cannot play an effective role in shaping corporate policy.
Based on input from environmental groups they had enlisted in their talks with the utility, the buyers agreed to a 10-point plan that included reducing carbon-dioxide emissions and support a $400 million energy efficiency program.
While critics might see it, at least in part, as a tactic to lend credibility to the buyers and boost TXU’s bottom line, the plan also shows that the bottom line can be measured in more than dollars.
Research continues to show that companies that do good are more attractive to investors, customers, employees and prospective employees.
By stepping up their advocacy work, particularly with companies in which they already own stock, foundations and nonprofits can be more effective in persuading corporations to change policies that affect a broad range of environmental and social issues.
Sadly, many charitable organizations do not believe or realize they can or should use their role as shareholders to advance the causes they care about.
But until charities start facing and embracing the realities of the marketplace, their efforts to make change happen will be only half measures.
What do you think?