Once strictly separate, the business and philanthropic sectors continuously are blurring as more people embrace the potential positive results.

As consumer demand for corporate social responsibility increases, companies without double or triple bottom lines can no longer compete, he said. In the nonprofit world, new profitable revenue streams increasingly are being implemented.

For a long time, many companies have been dedicated to corporate giving through associated foundations, for example.

People generally believe the free market is an effective and efficient way of achieving economic success, so that line of thinking carries over into the way of “doing good” in the world.

“That's been an argument for why capitalism and free market is good for society — if you allow the invisible hand of the marketplace and allow free markets to work, then they'll lift all boats,” Moody said.

But this has been changing gradually over the past few decades, most broadly culminating in the recent push for corporate sustainability — a business strategy that focuses on ethical, social, environmental, cultural, and economic measurements and impacts.

“What's different now is they don't separate the giving from the core business work,” Moody said.

Those same companies’ leaders with a passion for a cause often are creating other types of social enterprises rather than traditional nonprofits, he said.

While Moody said he believes there is value in blurring the lines between business and philanthropy, he said there could be danger in too much of it.

“If we blur them too much and philanthropy disappears, we will have lost something that's very valuable,” he said. The critics say corporate responsibility is just a marketing ploy. That could be true for some companies, he said, but not ones like Cascade Engineering. But, if philanthropy disappears and corporations are left to carry out their efforts alone, Moody said recognizing the difference between genuine responsibility and marketing ploys may become more difficult.

“Just because you say you're socially responsible as a company doesn't mean that you live that in the ways that we would want,” he said.

Read the full article about business and charitable sectors blurring by Justin Dawes at Grand Rapids Business News.