Ceres grew tremendously as an organization in 2016, as our work transforming the economy to build a sustainable future for people and planet gained steam.
Our staff expanded by one quarter, from 72 to 89 full-time employees, and financial support for the organization grew by nearly 20 percent. To accommodate this growth, we renovated and expanded our Boston headquarters into a modern, open space, complete with high-tech meeting spaces and sustainable design elements throughout the office.
Our financial growth was spread across our major program and issue areas; however, we especially expanded in one key issue area—sustainable food systems. This work focuses on driving large-scale changes in the way food is produced and sourced, by tackling challenges from deforestation to human rights abuses. It builds on our existing work on sustainable agriculture, water and palm oil, as well as our relationships with some of the largest global food companies.
In 2016, the Ceres Investor Network saw significant growth, adding 13 new members making it now a network with more than 130 members managing over $15 trillion in assets. The Ceres Company and Policy Networks also added new company members, and in California, the Ceres Connect the Drops campaign grew by 50 percent, from 18 to 27 company members.
Members of the Ceres 1000, our annual giving society for individuals donating $1000 or more, increased their giving by 60 percent in 2016, and the total number of Ceres 1000 members grew by 23 percent compared to last fiscal year.
Our digital media presence and reach has also been expanding. Through our social media channels, eCommunity subscribers and our website and blog traffic, we are reaching more than 100,000 people each month. In 2017, we anticipate to build more brand awareness and significantly expand our following and engagement with the launch of this modern, mobile-friendly website.
The Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability
Now in its seventh year since its release, the Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability is a powerful, strategic vision and practical framework for companies to integrate stronger environment, social and governance practices into core business strategies, and as Ceres has evolved, so too has the Ceres Roadmap.
With its set of expectations for governance, stakeholder engagement, disclosure and performance, the Ceres Roadmap is designed to help companies improve resiliency in their operations and supply chains to better prepare for a world with unprecedented sustainability challenges. But these challenges—and the political, economic, environmental and social context within which companies operate—are never static. So in 2016, we refreshed the Ceres Roadmap expectations to reflect global sustainability trends, emerging social and environmental threats, as well as our own evolved understanding of sustainability leadership.
In 2017, we will release our third assessment of more than 600 publicly traded companies in the U.S. and their progress toward meeting the Ceres Roadmap expectations. The assessment will show how companies and sectors are improving their competitiveness and resilience by effectively putting sustainability at the center of their business strategies.