04/05/2011 05:15 pm ET | Updated Jun 05, 2011

Starbucks, HandsOn Network Host Global Month of Service

Community service is changing. It is now strongly reliant on active strategic involvement by the private sector. Multinational organizations are now expected to participate in creating the common good and to do so in ways that leverages their people and core assets. It's the cost of doing business. And that's a good thing.

At Starbucks we've always valued community service. A commitment to creating moments of connection within our stores -- among our partners (employees), our customers and in our neighborhoods -- has been core to our culture since our inception. This year marks Starbucks 40th year in business and as part of our anniversary celebration, we're renewing and strengthening this commitment to community service. Our vision is simple, yet significant and ambitious -- we will help create thriving neighborhoods wherever we do business. Thriving neighborhoods depend on people lending a hand to their neighbors and working together with shared purpose.

Points of Light Institute, through its HandsOn Network volunteer-focused arm, is the largest volunteer network in the United States. Our Corporate Service Council, of which Starbucks is one of 60 leading corporate members, is focused on leveraging the power of employee volunteers to increase civic impact through innovation, best practices and human capital. Partnering with leading corporations, our goal is to take service beyond the traditional views of corporate social responsibility to drive greater scale and results.

Together we believe that corporations have an opportunity and an obligation to leverage the power of people for good. Throughout the entire month of April, Starbucks and leading nonprofits -- HandsOn Network here in the U.S. -- are hosting a global month of service. With service events around the world, our goal is to reach 200,000 hours of service from our partners and customers in 30 days. It's more proof that through close collaboration between corporate and nonprofit entities, each party is able to contribute in a unique way. The nonprofit assesses community needs and leverages their expertise to design meaningful service opportunities that address those needs. The corporation provides human resources along with the business and financial muscle to increase awareness and success of the program. The power of combining these forces is exponentially greater than embarking on these efforts alone.

Corporations must provide opportunities for people to get involved, and demonstrate that giving back is a priority. It is possible to achieve a balance between profit and social conscience. But to truly make a difference, companies need to do more than just write a check. Monetary donations to organizations that do good works are incredibly important, but companies also have a responsibility to use their scale and core assets to drive meaningful change, starting with involvement from their employees and customers.

Marrying the reach and footprint of large corporations with the experience and know-how of nonprofits like Points of Light Institute and its HandsOn Network is a powerful example of how this can be done successfully. We see the impact of this power demonstrated every day as companies provide the resources in capital and people power needed to help fuel efforts to create solutions to critical issues, such as youth, education, environment, and the economy, working hand in hand with community organizations.

What we've learned is that the positive impact of community service is mutually beneficial -- to the communities that receive much-needed attention, to the employees who have an increased sense of value and self-worth, and to the supporting company who sees increased morale from employees and visibility in the communities where they do business. Companies that do the right thing will be rewarded, and we shouldn't underestimate the importance of fostering a "culture of good" in our workplace. Ultimately everyone benefits when we enable our greatest resource -- our people -- to be change makers.