Companies across the world are increasingly focused on making a social impact to help eradicate poverty, fight injustices, and create a peaceful and prosperous planet for all of us to live in. But in order for these ambitious goals to be realized, more organizations must step up and get involved.

“It’s critical that corporations play a role in creating social change and development across the world,” said Rachel Tonge, vice president and general manager, UK, American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT). “They have the ability to tackle poverty and inequality. Without corporations playing a role in social change, we wouldn’t be able to create sustainable growth and increase prosperity across many countries.”

Picking a social cause your company can get behind

There are many ways your company can make a difference. One popular path is donating to a humanitarian organization.

With so many different organizations out there, finding the right one can be a daunting process, but you cannot go wrong if you choose a partner that has a strong connection to what your company does and its core values.

“That’s when you can really generate the passion across the company for employees to get involved,” Rachel said.

In our case, we wanted to partner with a charity that aids people during crises as that’s what we do for our clients through our risk management solutions. As Amex GBT has a presence in 140 countries, we also wanted to choose an organization that makes a difference on a global level, one that could make an impact on the ground no matter where there’s an emergency.

These criteria helped us whittle down the choices. In 2019, we forged a partnership with UNICEF USA and launched our flagship charitable cause, Helping Children Get Back to School in Times of Crisis.

Over the past 75 years, UNICEF has helped save and meaningfully improve more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization by providing healthcare and immunization, safe water and sanitation, nutrition, emergency relief, and education in more than 190 countries and territories. We have pledged a million dollars over five years to help UNICEF create and restore education for children during times of emergency – including those whose schooling was disrupted by the pandemic – and we recently have extended our partnership until 2023.

“In addition to its expertise and experience, we chose UNICEF for the extremely high ratings it has received for accountability and transparency,” Rachel said. “For every dollar spent, 84 cents goes directly to helping children.”

And here’s a tip: When doing your own vetting process, there are several online tools you can use to compare charities in terms of transparency, accountability, and the impact they are making.

Think beyond financial donations

Money isn’t the only way a company can contribute to a social cause. It can also donate its time and expertise.

That is how we supported Miles4Migrants, a nonprofit organization dedicated to using donated frequent flyer miles to help people impacted by war, persecution, or disaster relocate to safe communities, with its efforts to help Afghan families who fled to the United States after the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in 2021. Thousands of evacuees were put in temporary housing on military bases across the United States, and Miles4Migrants helped the Afghans secure flights to their final destinations.

The key to success – employee engagement

To maximize the impact your organization could potentially make, it’s essential to involve employees every step of the way.

Communication is key to driving enterprise-wide engagement. The more you can get the word out about what the organization is doing, the more likely you’ll motivate colleagues to participate. Highlighting the program and progress on the intranet site is one way to make people aware of the good work being done and create enthusiasm. Demonstrating how the cause connects back to the company’s purpose can also stoke people’s passion for a project – as we experienced with our Miles4Migrants program.

“Being in the travel industry, nothing really resonates with us more than flying people from harm to safety. So it really hit home for us and our employees were all super excited,” said Alison Tonet, vice president of our Traveler Care team.

“The initiative went so well that we’re continuing our partnership with Miles4Migrants,” she added. “Our next mission in partnership with Miles4Migrants will be to support its effort to utilize donated flight miles and bring Ukrainians leaving Europe to Canada.”

Because so many employees have raised their hand and asked how they can get involved, we are broadening our efforts globally, looking for other opportunities to help a nonprofit that could benefit from the services of a travel management company. It is not only crucial to the growing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) work we are doing but also to creating a culture that invigorates our people and fulfills our purpose.

“Now more so than ever, employees want to feel like they’re making a difference in their roles. That’s why as an organization, we are striving towards becoming purpose-led, making sure that every trip we book and every ticket we fulfill, we’re also engaging our employees around what that means in terms of supporting world economies and societies,” said Rachel. “It’s critical to what we do and gives our employees a reason to get out of bed in the morning and feel like they’re contributing to a more just and fair society.”

To learn more about the work we are doing to elevate our communities and create a better world, check out our ESG report.