Bringing companies and charities together to maximum effect.
There's no stopping Manny Amadi. The founder and head of the CSR consultancy Cause & Effect is on a roll. The day before the interview, Amadi had stunned delegates at the Institute of Fundraising's corporate partnerships conference by delivering a whirlwind presentation.
Amadi's turbo-charged philosophy on hooking a corporate partner, complete with macroeconomic trends and complex diagrams, was condensed into a half hour in which he hardly drew breath. "I'm very, very ambitious," he told the conference.
The day after the interview, he spoke at the Black Fundraisers Network as a personal favour to its chair, his brother Paul. And having touched down from New York only last week, he is already preparing to fly back across the Atlantic in June to tell a Unicef business summit about international corporate-charity partnerships.
He has been made an MVO (Member of the Royal Victorian Order, awarded for personal service to the Queen) for his work at youth charities, but until now he has hovered at the edges of the voluntary sector. Suddenly, however, he's popping up everywhere. Perhaps his biggest coup was his recent appointment as a trustee of the implementation body for the new Russell Commission youth volunteering charity, to be launched next Monday.
Amadi has also been named a Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum. "I'm passionate about realising potential," he says. "Whether that's for young people, for my business, for the school where I'm a governor or for my four young sons."
He has worked across the private, public and voluntary sectors and wants to see potential realised when the three areas meet. "I want barriers broken down so that companies don't see charities as amateurs and charities don't see companies as devils in the corner," he explains.
The consultancy Amadi founded in 1999 boasts the cream of corporate clients, from BSkyB and Microsoft to both Vodafone and its UK foundation. His consultants, who currently work with, among others, Macmillan Cancer Support and Greenpeace International, advise and coach on the best strategies for partnerships.
With competition intensifying, firms are keen to look for something that could give them an edge. "It's hard for a business to compete on the product alone," he says. "Companies want to link themselves with the passion and brand values that charities can bring."
Amadi's view, which many others share, is that the CSR agenda for companies is increasingly about diversity and human resource issues as well as the more traditionally understood environmental impacts.
"Companies take their behaviour more seriously because of the voice that activist NGOs have on how bad practice can damage a company's reputation," he says, citing the recent collaboration of Oxfam and Unilever, in which the former reviewed the latter's business practices in Asia.
He says changes are also afoot at community investment level, where firms "are looking to support charities in strategic rather than reactive ways.
They've become more disciplined."
But it's when he talks about youth volunteering that Amadi glows most.
He has been asked to maximise the corporate muscle at the Russell Commission, which has already won strong backing from the private sector.
"One challenge is to make youth volunteering sexy and relevant to young people," he says. "Organisations such as MTV and T-Mobile are already involved - they are youth-savvy brands that have an important role to play in communicating the joy that can come from volunteering."