From Detroit to Burma: The Story of a Clean Birth Kit


As a tech-enabled CSR company that prioritizes strategy first, many of our clients approach us expressing their desire to go global with their corporate philanthropy programs. And who wouldn’t? With a global CSR program, you can expand your company’s impact beyond your home state or national boundaries to include countries in which you do business and your employees live.

Naturally, expanding your programs internationally unfolds a plethora of challenges including: vetting international NGOs, disbursing funds, and complying with national laws. You aren’t alone if you haven’t determined how to plow through the murky waters of global CSR. According to the 2013 Giving Beyond Borders study, 50% of corporations indicated a need for vetting services. Furthermore, 46% indicated a need for a global employee engagement strategy. In order for your programs to prove successful, you must demonstrate the business value of your philanthropic donations. Furthermore, protecting your brand is crucial when donating to nonprofit organizations in the deepest, darkest corners of the world.

If you are contemplating initiating a global CSR program, you may find yourself asking these questions:

  1. How do we know our corporate and employee dollars will be used effectively?
  2. How can we effectively communicate the impact of our donated dollars abroad to domestic employees?; and most importantly,
  3.  When does CSR actually work and when does it negatively impact the native population?


It becomes a little less murky to navigate the global CSR field if you have the right partners in place. Think Global Giving, Tech Soup Global, and CAF America. However once those dollars leave your employee’s wallets, what does impact look like?

We at Good Done Great were ready to venture through the cloudy waters of global CSR to determine the real impact of employee volunteerism and giving. As I write this piece, I am gearing up for a trip to Kathmandu, Mandalay, and Ho Chi Minh City with the Detroit-based nonprofit, Global Health Charities (GHC.) GHC’s mission is to enhance equitable access to healthcare education in developing countries.

The main purpose of our trip is to deliver Clean Birth Kits (CBKs) to pregnant women in these under-served populations. The components of a CBK are simple: gauze, wipes, gloves but the health crisis we are tempting to combat is complicated and far-reaching. According to the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH), approximately 4.5 million infant deaths occur each year, the majority occurring in developing nations. Furthermore, every year, around 292,000 women die from preventable causes associated with pregnancy and birth. Ninety-nine percent of these deaths occur in developing nations. One of the primary causes of death is infection, and utilizing a clean birth kit will help protect mother and child no matter if birthing occurs alone or with a birth attendant.

The story of our clean birth kits began with the volunteer efforts of a Detroit-based auto manufacturer where over 30 individuals assembled 863 kits! Not only did these volunteers dedicate their time and energy to assembling these kits they also contributed their thoughts on how to improve the assembly process. Now it’s up to us, the Global Health Charities team, to successfully deliver the clean birth kits to the pregnant mothers. It’s up to us to successfully report back to the employees on the impact of their volunteer hours. It’s up to us to ensure that the CBKs are used effectively and appropriately for maximum impact.

We challenge corporations to start the conversation on international giving. We will gladly speak with you about how to donate legally to NGOs, but how do we move the needle effectively on meeting the Sustainable Development Goals set forth by the United Nations? What is our obligation, if any, to developing nations when individuals in our own backyard suffer from hunger, poverty, and oppression? Stop by the Good Done Great booth at the Charities@Work conference from March 28-30 to hear about the findings of my journey and join the conversation on international CSR. I am confident that through bold community action and cross-sector collaboration, we can dramatically and positively impact communities around the world.