This piece was published earlier today on Fox Business.
On September 26th, more than 1,000 new and returning members from the public, private and non-profit sectors, including some of the world's largest corporations, will come together at the 11th Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting in New York City to address some of the world's most pressing challenges.
We're proud that this year's CGI Annual Meeting is being supported by 33 new and returning sponsors, including some world's largest corporations and most effective foundations -- Procter & Gamble, The Coca-Cola Company, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, Cisco, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Ford Foundation, Gap Inc., NRG Energy, Swiss Reinsurance Company, the Rockefeller Foundation and Western Union. In addition, Apple, GlaxoSmith Kline, Xerox and Cardinal Health will participate in CGI as members for the first time.
In 2005, when President Clinton launched CGI, his goal was to turn ideas about how to improve the world into tangible action. He asked each GCI member to make a “Commitment to Action" - a new and measurable plan to tackle a global issue - often collaborating with other CGI members across sectors to assist with the design and implementation. Since inception, CGI members have answered President Clinton’s call by making more than 3,200 Commitments to Action which have improved the lives of over 430 million people in more than 180 countries - many of these by our corporate members and sponsors.
At CGI, corporations not only provide funding, but also apply their expertise in management, technology, manufacturing, distribution and research to help non-governmental organizations and foundations be more effective. These corporate commitments are providing better access to education and healthcare in the developing world, creating jobs and improving infrastructure in the U.S, and protecting the environment.
Procter & Gamble, the world’s largest consumer products company, has been a key partner, making several CGI commitments to provide safe, clean drinking water to millions in the developing world. P&G has scaled up production of clean water packets and is distributing them around the world with the help of NGOs working in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Through these commitments, the company has already provided 7.5 billion liters of clean water at no cost to those who need it most in more than 70 countries worldwide. Separately, the Inter-American Development Bank is working with corporate partners, including Microsoft, Caterpillar, and Walmart, to implement an employment program across ten Latin American countries. This CGI commitment will help 500,000 disadvantaged youth enter the workforce over the next five years.
CGI’s unique model of cross-sector collaboration has helped change the way many corporations approach their corporate social responsibility efforts and mirrors a shift in how foundations and NGOs are adopting best practices of management and measurement from the corporate sector, so it shouldn't be a surprise that organizations that care about being good global citizens choose to support CGI in a non-partisan way.
Despite our mission, some have characterized the turnover of a handful of CGI’s sponsors as “trouble” for CGI and "abandoning" the Clintons, but this is just another example of critics trying to politicize philanthropy, and the facts don’t bear out the argument.
Sponsorship revenue for CGI is up over last year, and more than half of the 30 companies listed in the Dow Jones Industrial Average are current CGI members or sponsors. This includes companies recognized as among the most innovative and socially-conscious in Fortune’s first listing of companies that change the world. In addition, some of the most influential global executives, such as Unilever CEO Paul Polman, Xerox CEO Ursula Burns and Cisco Executive Chairman John Chambers will be part of the program.
Similar to other thought-leader events such as the World Economic Forum, every year some sponsors leave, new sponsors sign on, and the overwhelming majority choose to continue their support. In fact, our turnover rate was lower this year than other years. And even those who aren't returning as sponsors continue to implement the commitments they launched through CGI.
President Clinton often says that no one sector, organization or individual can solve the world's seemingly intractable problems alone, and that in an increasingly interconnected world, it takes collaboration to make meaningful change. CGI’s first decade has validated this approach. It wouldn’t have been possible without the corporate world embracing our model.