MC4T Blog


Permanent link for Corporate Social Responsibility Employs Many Models to Strategically Align Business and Philanthropy on May 5, 2020

     By Patty Janes and Olivia Rau

While there are a variety of terms in use to describe an organization’s social giving (corporate citizenship, triple bottom line, etc.), corporate social responsibility (CSR) is often used as an overarching term. CSR can be defined as actions outside an organization’s normal scope of business that seek to address the needs of the community beyond pure economics (Carroll, 1999). These activities seek to align social good and ethical obligations with business objectives. CSR is a function to meet — and hopefully exceed — stakeholder expectations.

Throughout this last decade, CSR in various shapes has taken deeper root. A 2015 KPMG Survey of Corporate Responsibility Reporting estimated that 92% of the Fortune 250 took action toward a larger social mission and produced an annual report summarizing their actions and impacts. These activities vary widely, but share the intent to benefit both the “organization” — through motivated employees and increased profits — and the“community” it serves — by addressing relevant social issues. Further, 82% of the S&P 500 produced reports detailing their CSR initiatives in 2016, a significant increase from less than 20% reporting their CSR efforts in 2011 (Coppola, 2017).

CSR Models. Definitions and models attempting to explain the CSR phenomena have evolved significantly over the years. The early analysis focused on the obligation of businesses to consider how their decisions impact surrounding communities and meet public expectations (Davis & Blomstrom, 1966). Archie Carroll’s (1999) CSR Pyramid sought to reconcile four categories of business responsibilities — economic, legal, ethical, and philanthropic — stating that organizations’ philanthropic responsibility didn’t begin until profitability occurred. Newer models attempt to situate CSR and market value within a single conceptual framework (García-de-Madariaga & Rodríguez-de-Rivera-Cermades, 2010).

Another recent approach by Tracee Keys, Thomas Malnight, and Kees van der Graaf (2009) is to use McKinsey & Co.’s matrix, which pinpoints CSR’s primary objective: to align successful business practices while pursuing benefits to society. Ultimately, this model leads to “strategic” CSR that results in high benefits for society and for business, recognizing that organizational practice’s range and subsequent benefits to society and the organization also vary accordingly.

The matrix (Figure 1) demonstrates that some efforts have a higher benefit to society than to business. At the low impact, “pet projects” level, employees may ask those in the workplace to adopt a family during the holidays. More significant giving occurs in “philanthropy,” where the organization may identify a charitable cause to support throughout the year. These examples could be classified as corporate philanthropy.

What Keys and colleagues label as “propaganda” are efforts in which the benefits to society are low but high to the organization. For example, a hotel asking guests to help save the environment by not having linens washed daily during their multi-day stay may or may not benefit society. However, the financial savings to the organization is significant.

Finally, those actions of high value to both the organization and society are defined as “strategic.” These include practices that center around the organization, from employee volunteerism in human resources to fair trade supplier relationships; or practices that are externally focused, from energy and waste saving practices to disaster relief.

SMEs strategically embracing CSR. Although more and more companies are engaging in and reporting on their CSR activities, commitment levels are wide-ranging, and thus the benefits are too. What also varies is the size and types of organizations taking strategic action.

While top performers in the private sector are the most documented, the CSR trend isn’t limited to only the largest of organizations. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are embracing CSR, however, some scholars suggest fewer are producing annual reports and engaging with CSR as a strategic initiative (Perälä & Saukkonen, 2017). Yet, small businesses account for nearly half of the U.S. workforce and over 30 million organizations (Giese, 2019). Further, of the 5.6 million employer firms in the U.S. in 2016, “the vast majority (88%) of employer firms have fewer than 20 employees, and nearly 40% of all enterprises have under $100k in revenue” (JP Morgan Chase & Co., n.d.). In fact, 98.2% of firms have fewer than 100 employees (SBE Council, 2018). Despite their undeniably large part in the U.S. workforce, the Global Reporting Initiative found that only 10% of SMEs conduct annual sustainability reports (GRI, 2016). As such, SMEs are not reaping the same CSR benefits as those that have strategically implemented and publicly report their philanthropic initiatives.

In 2020, CSR will continue to evolve strategically for SMEs as they too will benefit their communities and help solve social issues while, in turn, more successfully achieving their organizational objectives.

11 Trends in Philanthropy - Full Report

Permanent link for The Mitten Brewing Company on May 5, 2020

     By Olivia Rau

The Mitten Brewing Company is a vintage baseball themed microbrewery located in a historic firehouse, Engine House #9, in Grand Rapids’ West Side. Since its opening in 2012, the Mitten has built a unique reputation for pairing high-quality craft beers and gourmet pizzas with community involvement. Giving back to the local community is a core value of the Mitten—they have given more than $300,000 in charitable gifts to local nonprofits since 2012. While the brewery’s commitment to their community through volunteerism and charitable giving has been evident from the beginning, the organization further bolstered their philanthropic capacity by forming their own nonprofit foundation in 2017, Mitten Foundation.

The mission of the foundation reads, “Mitten Foundation exists to enhance and elevate our community by utilizing the resources of The Mitten Brewing Co. and partners.” The simplicity of this mission feeds into the foundation’s criteria for selecting its nonprofit partners: 1) it must be a local organization, and 2) it must be small enough that the donation will make a measurable difference. The foundation’s care in selecting truly local organizations that are in the greatest need helps them to connect each dollar donated to the effect it has in the community.

In 2019 alone, Mitten Foundation gave $10,000 to offset in shelter costs for survivors of domestic abuse, $4,100 in sports equipment for inner city youth, $2,266 in classroom supply grants for teachers, and much more. They also utilized their resources to help alleviate the burden of local food insecurity by supporting 60,000 meals through Feeding America in West Michigan food pantries, 10,000 meals through Kids’ Food Basket, and by providing and serving over 2,000 slices of pizza. Given the Mitten Brewing Co. and Mitten Foundation’s impressive philanthropic track record and community involvement accomplishments of 2019, we are excited to see what’s in store for 2020!

Permanent link for 10 fun things to do when homebound frustration sets in (aka avoiding coronavirus/COVID-19) on March 24, 2020

By Patty Janes, Ph.D.

In 55 years of life, the only experience that remotely prepares me for what is happening with the Coronavirus pandemic was two months of bed rest during a difficult pregnancy. I was unable to support those I was used to caring for and scared something bad would happen to my beautiful baby. Doctor’s orders were to stay put, lay on my left side, and do everything I could to keep us both safe.  Day one was survivable, day two was not.

Communities around the world are facing this test, magnified on an incomprehensible scale.

While COVID-19 is affecting the world in more complex ways than I experienced those eight weeks, I feel a similar concern today.

As I sit at home, preparing to teach university students online, I’m reflecting on how my bed rest became a gift. I kept both my daughter and myself safe by doing what I was supposed to. Twenty-two years later she is about to graduate from the University of Michigan and we are facing a different kind of bed rest.

We all need to do our part to keep people safe. While I worry about small business surviving, families staying afloat financially with reduced hours, etc. I try my best to do what I did many years ago: to not be all consumed by the negative, and control what I could, doing my part to keep us safe.  I had to do what was needed, and then I had to reframe

What can you do to reframe? 

Think of all the things we can do during this time to safely care for others (e.g. a neighbor in need). Think of all the things we always want to do but never find the time (e.g. clean out closets or the garage). Then, think of all the things we can do to have unique fun. Finding ways to enhance your life during this stressful time will be vital.  American’s spend so much time on the television (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states near 3 hours – ½ of available leisure time), don’t let that get the best of you.

So many organizations have released ways to stay connected remotely, and many are mentioned in my top ten list below.  We’ve put this on the fridge to find new things to explore and stay connected.

Play. Board games at home or tech games with others. Keep being social. We broke out Clue last night (thanks USA Today article), and set the goal to play everything in the game cabinet at least once.  Our other family favorites Telestrations or Jackbox.TV!

Learn. To knit, draw (Michigan native Butch Hartman created Fairly Odd Parents and he teaches you how to draw Danny Phantom), paint, or play an instrument etc. Thanks to outlets like YouTube, we can learn so many things from home.  There are a number of sites providing FREE ways for children to learn including Netflix sources, education companies, and Grand Valley State University’s Charter School office sharing resources. 

Drive. Take a day road trip around Pure Michigan and sightsee. Pack a picnic or go through drive-thrus along the way. Take advantage of gas prices under $2/gallon. Pick any Lake MI lakeshore - no one is more than two hours from these natural beauties. Trip Advisor’s top beaches in Michigan.

Plan. Your next vacation. You will need a break after this experience and whether a staycation or travel more than 100 miles from home. Have kids and adults alike investigate great things to do, see, learn, etc.

Tour. Take a look of interesting museums or dairy farms.  So many great organizations are pulling together FREE ways to explore from home including NASA.

Face time or Skype. People you’ve been meaning to catch up with. Research indicates staying connected with families and friends is so important.  If you don’t believe it, here are 82M posts in Google about it. 

Walk /Exercise. Get fresh air and open windows, walk around the house. If your environment allows, walk outside, in the neighborhood, on a trail, in a yard. 6’ of distance is easier outdoors and fresh air is healing.  Organizations from Planet Fitness to Lulu Lemon are providing FREE ways to get exercise at home (e.g. yoga). 

Cook. Try a new recipe with food items on a back shelf or in the bottom of the freezer. Share items with neighbors to try something new and help each other. Create a communal living environment where everyone helps with meals. It’s social. It’s helpful. And, someone learns something new. Guaranteed. Thanks to my InstaPot, I didn’t ruin the corned beef on St. Patty’s Day for the first time!

Meditate. Download an app to start or end your day in peaceful, contemplative thought. It works. Great FREE App: Waking Up

Live. Don’t let this situation keep you from learning, growing, and building relationships. Life doesn’t stop, use free conference calling services to have regular large family chats, club or hobby meetings, or continue your volunteer work. Keep moving forward. We need each other more than ever.

Which of these will you do or have you done? What would you add to the list?


Permanent link for Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau on March 10, 2020

    By Aubrey Sochacki

Lansing is often known for being the capital of Michigan, the home of the Spartans, and a growing community. The city strives to be supportive of all members of the community, including local businesses and those who call the city home.

The Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) encourages each of their staff members to serve on local boards and committees. Through this encouragement, they have made it possible for CVB members to work with these boards and committees to organize local events. One of the events that many staff members help with is planting flowers on the capital lawn each year. This event brings the community together and helps promote Lansing as a tourist destination.

One of the major initiatives that the Greater Lansing CVB is working on is promoting attractions with sensory activities for individuals with disabilities. At these sensory attractions, the CVB provides each volunteer with training to help them provide better services for individuals with disabilities. Each attraction has a CVB staff member that works directly with it, in order to best serve the community. 

Another part of this initiative is Lansing’s annual event, “Be a Tourist in Your Own Town.” This event started 25 years ago and has created a way for community members to interact with over 100 attractions. This event “opens” the community each year and encourages Lansing citizens and others to visit the area and support the state’s capital.

Lansing is not just the home of Michigan’s government; it is also home to an inclusive community.

Permanent link for Pictured Rocks Boat Cruises on March 10, 2020

     By Megan Heynen

If you live in Michigan, there is a good chance that you have heard of the Upper Peninsula’s (UP) Pictured Rocks. However, there is less of a chance that you have had the opportunity to go up to the UP and see them with your own eyes. Pictured Rocks is located on the South shore of Lake Superior and is a strip of unusual sandstone formations that goes on for miles. Pictured Rocks has always been a popular tourist destination. Over 50 years ago, Pictured Rocks Cruises, LLC began offering boat rides around the rocks to allow visitors to see them up close and personal. These cruises run from mid-May through mid-October, as those are the warmest months in Michigan.

As the years have passed, these cruises have grown in popularity. Pictured Rocks Cruises has different cruise options for guests, two of them are the “classic” and the “sunset.” These cruises are about 2 hours and 35 minutes and cost $38 for adults. Another type of cruise offered is the “spray” cruise. Spray cruises are generally 2 hours and 15 minutes and costs $45. The spray cruise follows the same course as any other, but they continue further and encounter an extra waterfall called Spray Falls. Since these cruises have been getting more popular over the years, they wanted to make sure the residents of the UP were being involved.

John Madigan, General Manager of Pictured Rocks Cruises and a native of Munising, along with his team discovered that most people who live in the Upper Peninsula (also known as “Yoopers") had not been on the cruise. Madigan decided they were going to do something about this. In 2012, the organization created a day when the first 600 Yoopers who showed their ID could ride for free. After their first year of doing this, more businesses and people got involved. The event has grown from 60, to 1,000, and last year 3,000 people attended. Not only have they had a great turnout of people, but the number of vendors has grown as well. In 2019, they had over 100 vendors present. It has also turned into a multi-day event with music, food, crafts, a petting zoo, and so much more. Madigan stated that the benefits from this event have been huge. When asked about the benefits and drawbacks, Madigan said the only drawback is the amount of work it takes to put it together each year, but that it is 100 percent worth it and they plan to continue it for years to come.


  • 3,000 Yoopers attended last year’s Pictured Rock Days event.
  • Prior to this initiative, most Yoopers had not been on a Pictured Rocks cruise.

Permanent link for Flint and Genesee Convention and Visitors Bureau on March 10, 2020

    By Caitlyn Witkamp and Claire Zuwala

Imagine being a tourist in your hometown, kind of a wild idea, right? You have lived there for most of your life, so you should know everything there is to know about your sweet little town, where everything is, the places to chow down, and the best places for entertainment or fun… but, can you market your town to others? The Flint and Genesee Convention Visitors Bureau (CVB) is trying to change that.

“Be A Tourist” is a program that the Flint and Genesee CVB put in place to help change the way the local residents, future residents, and visitors to the community see Flint and Genesee. Director of the Flint and Genesee CVB, Alaina Wiens shared, “The CVB thought what better way to make residents aware of what is happening with all the development downtown and throughout the county than by having a day when they can see a bunch of new buildings, attractions, and historical venues, while providing the transportation to them all for $1.”

When the “Be A Tourist” program started seven years ago, it was a one-day event that showed the best things about Flint and Genesee. Now it is a five-month event that encompasses so much more. Weins said that the transformation into a larger event “says great things about our community. That we have enough things going on throughout Genesee County that we would be able to provide an experience based on certain activities of interest.”

Another benefit of the program now being five months is that people don’t feel like they have to pick-and-choose what activities they want to do. With the longer program, people have all the time in the world to experience the best things about Flint and Genesee. The community around Flint and Genesee can talk about their city with much more pride, knowledge, and passion. They fall back in love with their city, all thanks to the Flint and Genesee CVB.

The CVB also has the opportunity for their local community members to become a Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA). When asked how the need for a CTA program was identified in Flint and Genesee, Weins responded, “The Flint & Genesee CVB strives daily on changing the perception of the area, which helps the community grow and prosper. The CTA Program demonstrates our dedication to promoting the destination as one of the best, with a high level of commitment to visitors and people that work, live and play here.” This certification is beneficial to the community members because they get to learn about their city in new ways, and learn how to encourage others to check out everything that Flint and Genesee has to offer. This certification builds upon the pride that the residents already feel for their town and helps prepare the community for the long-term as well. As Weins puts it, “As Flint and Genesee County increases in popularity, thousands of people will be experiencing the area for the first time. The CTA Program is the perfect way to prepare and welcome these changes, and visitors, and offer an experience they’ll remember forever… the program helps us all prepare for the future.”


  • “Be A Tourist” is a program to help change the way the local residents, future residents, and visitors to the community see Flint and Genesee.
  • The “Certified Tourism Ambassador” program offers a chance for the community to promote their love of their hometown.

Permanent link for DoubleTree by Hilton, Port Huron on March 10, 2020

    By Megan Hartmus and Mary Minogue

The DoubleTree by Hilton in Port Huron was recognized for its commitment to the community and passion for involvement as winner of the 2019 Governor’s Service Award for the high level of service the business and its employees provide year after year. General Manager Amber Burch and her team routinely go above and beyond in their support for local groups and projects in their efforts to be a positive force in their neighborhood and beyond. 

Beginning when the hotel opened in 2013, community outreach has always been a priority for DoubleTree Port Huron, with support projects playing a critical role in its mission. The team at DoubleTree formed “Care Committees” to focus on community and guest relations. These programs gave associates the opportunity to actively engage in their neighborhood and find new and exciting causes and events where the DoubleTree team could volunteer.

In 2019, DoubleTree Port Huron volunteered with more than 12 organizations, getting involved in countless projects. Some of these organizations include Habitat for Humanity, The Blue Water Area Humane Society, Adopt-A-Highway, Lighthouse Park Cleanup, and Adopt a Family. In order to make these projects a success, employees have the opportunity to sign up for projects that interest them the most. DoubleTree Port Huron encourages employee involvement by compensating for their volunteer time. Burch explained that “the majority of [employees] volunteer at least once or twice a year.”

Looking forward, DoubleTree Port Huron plans to remain ambitious in its community outreach. They would like to expand their horizons in order to incorporate a bigger project across the state of Michigan. Burch hopes to become involved with Michigan Cares for Tourism as well as larger initiatives within Habitat for Humanity, per the request of employees. DoubleTree Port Huron is excited about the growth of the program and the future of the community outreach impacts.

Burch stressed the importance of having the associates of DoubleTree Port Huron involved in choosing the organizations and projects they participate in. The involvement in decision making drives passion and creates motivation for the employees to give back. This involvement, paired with excitement to give back, facilitates a strong community outreach program, which is why the DoubleTree Port Huron was the perfect recipient of the Governor's Service Award.

The associates have enjoyed their community outreach efforts and have become passionate about creating their own volunteering experiences. Burch stated, “some [employees] have begun to volunteer at local animal shelters, nursing homes, and soup kitchens” on their own time. This personal initiative by employees has created a ripple effect of positive community outreach in Port Huron and around the state of Michigan. The DoubleTree Port Huron is an outstanding example of businesses getting involved and giving back to the community.


  • DoubleTree Port Huron participates in community outreach and volunteer opportunities at least once a month.
  • They find employee's interest integral in volunteer project selection.

Permanent link for Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau on March 10, 2020

     By Aubrey Sochacki

A couple of years ago, the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) created an engagement committee to better equip themselves to be involved in the local communities they serve. Within this committee is the volunteer committee.

The volunteer committee has created endless opportunities for the Detroit Metro CVB staff members to participate in. Through the committee, the CVB has been able to give each staff member volunteer time off up to eight hours per year to volunteer.

A few of the volunteerism activities that the Detroit Metro CVB participates in are collecting mittens for Detroit, a cereal drive, a collection drive for school supplies, and donating food to those in need for Thanksgiving. This past year, the Detroit Metro CVB collected over 300 pairs of gloves and mittens for the Detroit area. This drive was done internally with members and clients of the CVB. The CVB also partners with local charities to provide food and other needs to those in the community.

The Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau is not just focused on bringing tourists to the area, but also on caring for those who call the community home.

Permanent link for Circle Michigan on March 10, 2020

   By Olivia Rau

Organized in 1981, Circle Michigan pioneered the very first organization in the country focusing on the promotion of group travel. Since then, numerous other states have followed their leadCircle Michigan is dedicated exclusively to helping professional tour planners and Circle Michigan member suppliers meet the challenges unique to the group travel industry.

During the late 1990s, Circle Michigan lost two members to death from car accidents: Katherine Schmidt in 1997, who was with the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Scott Brazil in 1998, who was with Kewadin Casino of Sault Ste. Marie. Money in the form of memorials was given in their honor, which was placed into a Michigan scholarship held by the National Tour Association (NTA), located in Lexington, Kentucky. Over the next 15 years, the fund grew to over $20,000.00. NTA no longer desired to retain the monies it was holding so turned the funds over to Circle Michigan. With this, the Circle Michigan Foundation was formed on March 23, 2012.

Circle Michigan members volunteer their time to serve on the Circle Michigan Foundation to oversee two programs (listed below) and plan fundraisers. 

  • Circle Michigan Scholarship. The Circle Michigan Foundation awards an annual college scholarship to a student attending a Michigan higher education institution, who is enrolled in a Hospitality and Tourism program. Full or part-time students may apply.  Since 2013, the Circle Michigan Foundation has awarded $3,500 in scholarships.
  • Circle Michigan Field Trip Transportation Grant. The Circle Michigan Foundation also awards a transportation grant to any K through 12 educational institution within the State of Michigan. This grant is to be used for transportation for field trips. Any attraction being visited by the school group must be a Circle Michigan member attraction. Since 2013, the Circle Michigan Foundation has awarded 20 Michigan schools Field Trip Transportation Grants totaling $4,253.

One of the 2018 Field Trip Transportation Grant recipients was CLK Elementary in Calumet. With the grant, 92 second grade students visited Fort Wilkins State Park as second grade social studies curriculum focuses on the local community. On this trip, the students learned why Fort Wilkins was built and what it was like to live there. Joan Darnell, second grade teacher at CLK Elementary, reported “the second graders learn and remember a lot better by actually being able to be at Fort Wilkins. As the school year continues, there are many times I am reading a book, showing a picture, or discussing our area’s history and now I am able to bring up something we saw on our trip to Fort Wilkins.”


  • This year’s Field Trip Transportation Grant Application period is April 1 – June 20.
  • Since 2013, the Circle Michigan Foundation has awarded field trip transportation grants to 20 Michigan schools.

Permanent link for Blissfest Music Festival on March 10, 2020

   By Rosemary McCollom

Blissfest Music Festival initially developed from a small arts club called the Spectrum Center, which was located above the Grain Train in Petoskey, MI. The club was a gathering point for local artists, folk musicians, dancers, and movie buffs. The idea for the Blissfest Music Festival started as a joint fundraising idea between the Spectrum Center and an alternative school in Bliss, Michigan, called the Bliss School. The first Blissfest was held for one day under a tree in a potato farmer’s field in the summer of 1981. Now, in 2020, Blissfest is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

When asked about Blissfest and its commitment to its community, sustainability, giving, and what the future has in store for the festival turned community focused organization, Sarah Reinfelder, the Blissfest Operations Manager, has this to say; “First, what most people don’t know, is that we are a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization focusing on sustainability, education, and community connections through music. Apart from the big festival, we hold events all year round!” She enthused, “We aren’t just a festival; we host some form of an event every month.” There are over 1,000 volunteers that assist in organizing and facilitating these local events.

A unique way Blissfest assists the local community is by going to Emmett County schools to teach music workshops and special education communication through music classes. Sarah relayed one instance that displayed how these music education programs are positively impacting the community:

“We were teaching a special education music class and there was one individual in the class who was non-verbal. Their mother had never heard them speak in their 16 years of life, nor had they looked her in the eyes more than a handful of times. This individual initially wanted nothing to do with us while we were there, just sitting in the corner. Then after the second or third class, they joined our circle. They began playing along with us, playing the egg shaker every class. One day the mother spoke to us after class, sharing that her child had begun to look her in the eyes and communicate using music. Those are the life changing impacts our programs are bringing to our community and will continue to do so.”

Sarah also spoke of the organization’s sustainability efforts during the annual Blissfest Festival. Local sports teams take part in collecting the cans consumed during the festival weekend, taking them to be recycled and then the funds going towards their group. Other teens volunteer for weekend passes and, in turn, learn about food waste and how to separate the festival’s food court garbage, which allows for a very miniscule amount of waste to go the dump. Sarah joked, “and then those kids take that information home with them and drive their parents wild with composting and going green. I’ve heard the stories.”

Looking towards the future, Blissfest hopes to utilize the land that the festival takes place on throughout the year, adding in camping music, educational cultural workshops, and related events that carry on the ‘Happy Bliss’ mentality.


  • Blissfest engages over 1,000 volunteers that assist in organizing and facilitating these monthly local events.
  • Volunteers are able to apply composting and recycling lessons to their everyday lives.

Page last modified May 5, 2020