06/06/2012 09:02 am ET Updated Aug 06, 2012

Framing CSR Through Product Philanthropy

Corporate. Social. Responsibility. -- Three commonly used words that when standing alone don't have much impact, but when woven together, have the ability to sustain, influence and engage. Good360, the nonprofit I recently joined as board chair, has been making corporate social responsibility (CSR) both accessible and advantageous through product donation since 1983. As a former CEO of a Fortune 20 company, I know that CSR isn't just a trending catchphrase. Good360's philanthropy model can improve your bottom line, build employee engagement and improve sales as a socially responsible company all by donating merchandise you might otherwise be paying to store, destroy, or liquidate for pennies on the dollar.

On June 5th, the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) announced Good360 as the recipient of its Directors' Award -- part of the 2012 Excellence Awards in Corporate Philanthropy. Since 2003, CECP's Board of Directors has presented the award and corresponding grant to a nonprofit demonstrating an exemplary partnership with a corporation. We received this high honor due to our work with The Home Depot and the innovative program we created together -- Framing Hope.

The Framing Hope Product Donation Program was born out of the desire of The Home Depot's (THD) associates to donate products -- set to be returned to a distribution center or thrown in a landfill -- to help the communities where they work and live. Executives at The Home Depot recognized the importance of responding to the grassroots plea of their employees to give back. They saw the benefits of donating over liquidating or destroying, and invested time and money to effectively engage employees in stores across the country to partner with local nonprofits.

More than 1,000 Home Depot locations across the country currently participate in Framing Hope and distribute product donations locally, allowing recipient nonprofits of all shapes and sizes to stretch their budgets further and enhance mission-focused programs. Good360 ensures marked-down inventory, buy-backs, returned merchandise and end-of-season items are placed with qualified organizations that are working to make their communities better.

Looking to analyze the true impact of this program, in 2010 Good360 and The Home Depot Foundation worked with Indiana University to measure the program's environmental and community impact. The research concluded that almost 500,000 low-income families were reached within one year of the program and within its first two years, Framing Hope diverted 2,500 garbage trucks of compressed waste from landfill. In addition, the energy-efficient usage of products from Framing Hope products saved enough electricity to power 294 homes annually and the energy already saved is equivalent to the carbon sequestered by 90,138 tree seedlings grown for 10 years.

The Framing Hope program is a terrific example of how two organizations can collaborate to positively impact the triple bottom line -- people, planet, profit -- and deliver measurable results to communities in need. Thanks to the partnership with Good360, The Home Depot was able to achieve their strategic goals to meet zero waste initiatives, cut costs and drive supply chain efficiencies, engage employees and give back to the community. Good360 was able to continue supporting nonprofits serving communities, small and large, that make up the nation's safety-net programs. We envision a world where like recycling, product donation becomes a habit and we are thankful for responsible companies like The Home Depot who have already adopted our win-win philosophy.