Toyota Changes the Philanthropy Game - CSR Minute for August 5, 2013
Toyota is changing the idea of corporate philanthropy with an innovative approach to giving. The company is sharing its core business strategy, not just funds, with nonprofits. In a recent initiative to help the Food Bank of New York City, the country’s largest anti-hunger charity, the company applied its main concept, “kaizen,” a Japanese word that means “continuous improvement,” to help the nonprofit deliver more food more efficiently to its 1.5 million customers. The bottom line of kaizen is to study current practices and make small changes that produce big results. In the Food Bank case, Toyota engineers studied Food Bank practices and suggested changes that dramatically reduced waiting times at soup kitchens and the time needed to pack boxes of supplies. Starting in the early 1990s, the Toyota Production System Support Center offered consulting services to auto parts suppliers, then to nonautomotive manufacturers and nonprofit organizations. Today, the Center works with 40 organizations, about half of which are nonprofits that receive the services for free. At a time of smaller budgets for nonprofits and higher demand for their services, operational changes, guided by the expertise of successful corporations, can make a significant difference in the delivery of vital help to those in need.
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