For this latter reason, one of the potential challenges I see with using a continuum is that it does not make it easy to communicate some of the key differences between the examples of corporate social engagement you provide. In particular, the strength of the link between social and business value creation is very different at both ends of your spectrum. My experience and that of my colleagues at FSG, especially with a corporate audience, is that there is value in drawing a clear line somewhere to better spell out the characteristics of these different forms of corporate social engagement; in particular, why companies engage, what value is being created, how and at what cost for the business.
With shared value, it is possible to communicate information that is i) forward-looking (companies know what social outcomes they are after), ii) directly linked to business financial indicators (it is about increasing sales or market share or reducing costs, all of which will be showing in the P&L), and iii) data-driven (companies have usually invested a lot in quantifying the social opportunity as a market, and they should develop a measurement strategy to document value creation with hard facts). This is more difficult to do in the case of product donations for example, or compliance with a set of ESG standards. Companies are doing these for good reasons but the link to business value creation through such factors as increased employee engagement or brand recognition is more elusive and harder to quantify – as you implicitly point out.