Last week’s cover story in Capital Business described how nonprofits are acting more like corporations. Interestingly, there’s a flip side to that trend: corporations that are acting more like nonprofits.

In the parlance of the business world, this is known as corporate social responsibility, or CSR. The practice differs from traditional corporate philanthropy in that it does not merely involve donating money, time or other resources to a worthy cause or causes. Instead, CSR seeks to align a company’s business mission and practices to the larger interests of society.

Any savvy business executive will tell you that CSR is increasingly becoming a contemporary business imperative. Why? Americans are demanding more and more out of the companies they patronize and even work for.

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