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How to Transform Your Company’s Community Investment Program and Succeed at it

By Sabrina El-Chibini and Dmitri Kharitidi

Transformative Community Involvement™(TCI) is about companies moving away from transactional community investment to transformative involvement. This unique approach is designed to engage stakeholders, including employees and non-profits, in collaborating to solve societal problems (1).  Now in its 7th year, TCI has proven to benefit business (2, 3, 4).  In this article, The Collaboration Vector Inc. (TCV) shares the core concepts of the approach and presents 5 of its critical success factors. 
Core Concepts of TCI
Transformative Community Involvement™ (TCI) is about engaging stakeholders in a meaningful partnership or collaboration that creates community and business value (1).  By making a commitment to TCI companies essentially transform traditional philanthropy into long-term solutions-oriented initiatives.


The advantages and benefits of  TCI are significant - companies identify and develop leaders among employees,  improve the company’s reputation, attract talent and capital, and differentiate themselves from the competition (2,3,4).  TCI programs are inherently efficient and result in social transformation and unprecedented opportunities to develop people as effectively in the office as in the community. 
The approach is holistic, methodical, and requires nurturing.  Each of the parts of a successful TCI program is connected to a whole. This is in contrast to quick-fix, piecemeal solutions that loosely reference the term transformative, while in and of themselves being transactional.  These often result in improperly set expectations and risks for companies, which are otherwise entirely avoidable (5).
5 critical success factors of Transformative Community Involvement™?​​
1. Visionary Leadership 
A prospective new client once asked me what the top 3 critical success factors of TCI were.   I hardly paused before responding, almost instinctually:   The leadership ability of the CEO, the leadership ability of the program’s Executive Sponsor and the leadership ability of the employees at the grassroots.  Here are the top 3 executive and implementation attributes that lead to success in TCI.   
  1. Bold
  2. Thinks "out-of-the-box"
  3. Transformative
  1. Meticulous follow up
  2. Understanding of multiple sectors
  3. Collaborative
2. Outcomes-based design
One of the critical aspects of TCI is its outcomes-based design that continuously provokes thought about “what we are working to achieve”.  Coupled with a focus on outcomes is setting the stage for social and business impact measurement so as to ensure that evidence-based decision making guides program evolution. 
3. Careful selection of culturally aligned non-profit partners
Drawing on our experience in “dissecting” the most successful private-/non-profit partnerships so as to understand what led to their success, we identified the following factors:
4. Identification of each company’s “sweet spot”
Inherent to the TCI approach is the need for companies to identify their “sweet spot” for community involvement.  Each company, with its unique set of possibilities and limitations, has a “sweet spot” for both volunteer time and funds that it can sustain over time (5).  This is the spot at which the company provides maximum return for society and business at the lowest risk. 
5. Effective reporting & communications
TCI program communications should provide value for time to an increasingly astute audience of stakeholders.  Following are the top 3 attributes of effective TCI communications content:
Attributes of effective TCI communications content:
  • Transparent
  • Relevant
  • Meaningful​
As our research indicates, taking into account the success factors of TCI facilitates the implementation of the approach and minimizes risk for the company. Regardless of how ambitious your community involvement program is, these factors are game-changers when it comes to impacting business and society.    
To support successful implementation and a clear understanding of the path to TCI, The Collaboration Vector Inc. offers clients a small but critical first step in the process.  This critical step is about discovery, alignment and the building of a solid foundation for your TCI program.  It starts with your desired results and builds towards these.  At the end of this methodical and facilitated experience, you will have a move-forward plan that is just right for your organization:
  1. clear picture of what your program will look like
  2. executive decisions on shaping it  on multiple levels
  3. assessment and mitigation of short- and long-term risks
  4. critical success factor measures incorporated
  5. stage set for determining business and social impact
The Collaboration Vector Inc. (TCV) is a next generation strategy and service provider and originator of Transformative Community Involvement™ (TCI).  The company specializes in TCI strategies, transformative employee involvement programs, proactive stakeholder mapping and engagement, transformative partnership designs, partnership facilitation, and impact measurement, reporting and communications. TCV has a team of strategists, business professionals, and researchers in health and wellness, economic growth, education, poverty reduction, entrepreneurship, leadership and climate action. The company works with clients in the private, non-profit, and public sectors. 
©The Collaboration Vector Inc. 2011-2018.  All Rights Reserved.
  1.  “Transformative Community Involvement: What it Means, What it Takes, What it Gives”, Sabrina El-Chibini, 2016
  2. “How Costa Recicla and SeaLand Boosted Recycling in Panama: A Case Study of Business, Social & Environmental Impact”, John McCormick & Sabrina El-Chibini, 2017.
  3. Transformative Community InvolvementTM: How SeaLand and The Collaboration Vector Inc. Connected Business and Social Impact, Thiago Covre & Sabrina El-Chibini, 2017
  4. Putting an End to Dismal Employee Engagement:  How Community Helps.  Dmitri Kharitidi and Sabrina El-Chibini, 2017.
  5. Finding Your Sweet Spot for Community Investment.  Sabrina El-Chibini and Dmitri Kharatidi, 2018.
  6. “The State of Sustainable Business 2016”, GlobeScan report 2016


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