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Rise Against Hunger Chief Marketing Officer Tom Barbitta recently traveled to New York City to moderate a panel at the annual CECP Summit. CECP is a coalition of 150 CEOs that empowers corporations to be a “force for good” in society. Tom’s panel, “Prioritizing the Long Term, Strengthening Your Nonprofit Partners,” was an opportunity to create a conversation about the positive, lasting impact corporations can make when they team up with nonprofits. After the summit, we spoke with Tom about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), his thoughts on working in the nonprofit world and about Rise Against Hunger’s leadership in ending hunger.

Q: Corporations talk about making a positive difference in people’s lives, but what does that really mean?
A: Corporations are realizing that their social responsibility can truly make a difference, and that their moral code and values dictate that they do more for society as a whole. Boards and shareholders are applying positive pressure in this direction. CECP plays such a critical role in bringing this to the forefront of key decision makers. As the U.S. reduces its global aid, nonprofits like Rise Against Hunger must step in. Not only through aid distribution, but also through advocacy. Advocacy is rapidly becoming more mainstream, and our political leaders are realizing that this is a strong voice of the people.

As U.S. social programs become more restricted, more and more people will spill into the social safety net sphere. This represents an economic risk to our country, as fewer people with buying power translates to lower earning for corporations. I believe the political climate will create a swell of awareness and pride in taking action, giving voice to those that under different circumstances would remain silent. Now more than ever, nonprofits must position themselves as strategic outlets for corporations as outlets for CSR leadership and partnership.

Rise Against Hunger CMO Tom Barbitta moderates a CSR panel at the CECP Summit.

Q: When was your “ah-ha moment” when you realized making a profit wasn’t enough?
A: I have always felt that at some point in my career, lending my experience to the nonprofit world would be a milestone marker in a long corporate career. My desire to make this career move grew when I consulted in Southeast Asia and interacted with people in Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia. When I first traveled to Vietnam in 2000, I saw how happy the people were despite having what we’d consider by Western standards to be very little. It clicked! The true joy I witnessed is not a function of money or goods, but by our ability to help one another. At my son’s recent college graduation, I heard a quote that resonated with me: “What matters most is not the change in your pocket but the change you make in the world.”

Q: How does Rise Against Hunger position itself as a movement builder and leader in the fight against hunger, and how will strategic partnerships further this movement?
A: There are three reasons why Rise Against Hunger assumes the role of movement builder:

  1. Credibility in our people and our purpose: We are a mission-centric/purpose-led organization with over 18 years of credibility.
  2. Our focus is centered on a highly visible global issue involving ending hunger, U.N. Sustainable Development Goal #2. This issue has global awareness among key audiences, and we are poised to do our part
  3. Our loyal supporter base: We have created a movement, and we intend to build on that movement with a mission that masses of people can understand, align with and rally around. We fully intend to involve our donors, volunteers and strategic partners in our efforts to end hunger by 2030.

Ready to get your company involved in the fight against hunger? We would love to work together to make a lasting impact in the lives of people in need around the globe.  Visit our Engage Your Workplace page to find out how to get started.