These days, it’s highly understood that doing good is good for business. Many businesses engage in corporate social responsibility programs for different reasons, but whatever the motivations may be, statistics have proven CSR to be a good choice. The CECP’s Giving in Numbers survey found the following to be true of socially responsible companies:
- Among companies giving at least 10% more since 2010, median revenues increased by 11% while revenues fell 3% for all other companies.
- Employees are the most important stakeholder influencing decisions to expand community investments.
- The percentage of companies offering paid time off for volunteering increased from 51% of companies in 2010 to 59% of companies in 2013, translating into 37% more volunteer hours in that same time period.
- (check out this infographic for more stats)
Generally, the objections to implementing Corporate Social Responsibility involve questions of time, money, or the size/type of business you run. The CECP’s shows that time and money will probably have a positive ROI. If you’re objecting to CSR programs because you don’t think your company is the right size/type to do so, or if the social programs you’ve tried have lost steam and fizzled out, then I suggest you take a look at what else the CECP uncovered: Companies have begun to consider the specific skills of their staff to help improve their CSR efforts.
CSR isn’t a one-size-fits-all. If you’re trying to copy someone else’s CSR model or doing social programs just for the monetary benefits, then I suggest you remember something that you probably tell all your potential customers: your company is unique. The way you engage with your community should also be unique. Our own company has been reforming its outreach program lately. Business-as-mission has always been an essential part of our company vision, but at the U.S. office we’ve found ourselves in a rut of late; for that reason, we’ve started restructuring our CSR plan. We’re hoping that a firmer understanding of what we have to offer the community results in more focused efforts. We went through a process like the one outlined below… Here are some things to think about as you rebuild your CSR program:
1. Consider your skills
Like I said, every company is unique. If your company does construction, maybe you could volunteer with a place like Habitat for Humanity. If it does advertising, maybe find a non-profit or charity that could use some marketing materials. Aligning efforts with goals, abilities, resources, skills, and areas of expertise increases efficiency and allows individuals and corporations to best benefit those they help. We have a small office in the U.S., and everyone has their own set of skills. We decided that instead of trying to fit all of us into one box, we would approach non-profits with a “proposal” which outlined our specific talents and what we could commit to. So far, this includes business consulting time, website front-end design, and video production. Everyone participates and feels invested in the organization because their specific skills are put to use.
2. Consider your passions
You don’t have to stick with your professional talents; you have a lot more to offer. Our office in India is much larger than our office in the U.S., and almost everyone is a software developer. They could donate development time, but many of the employees are passionate about having a more community-oriented donation of their time and money. Rather than using software expertise, our developers use their skills as parents and siblings (India has a very family-oriented culture) to brighten up these children’s lives. EC Group has a love for the underprivileged and disadvantaged in Indian society, and a passion for those who provide them with education and homes. Over the years, we’ve formed relationships with a few schools who are doing wonderful work in the community. Don’t just consider your professional talents when building your CSR strategy, consider other skills/passions that you and your fellow workers might otherwise have in common.
3. Where do your skills, your passion, and the world’s needs meet?
Next step, find some partners. A good match for you and your company will be where your skills/passion, and the world’s needs meet. For us, that’s schools for the underprivileged and non-profits looking to expand their reach and capacity. For you, it could be anything. A few broad categories that organizations focus on are the environment, philanthropy, and ethical labor practices. Cash giving, volunteer hours, employer-matching programs and in-kind services are just a few all are ways in which companies accelerate corporate social impact. They’re a good place to get started, and as you get into the swing of things and develop relationships you can start to find a good partner fit.
4. Make a commitment
Remember, you’re trying to focus your efforts, and part of that is done by making a lasting commitment to your non-profit. Set some goals for your company to reach, maybe even integrate your CSR efforts into your normal business plan. Our outreach efforts are now included in our normal quarterly goals.
5. Stick to it
Remember to stay humble in your efforts–corporate social responsibility has its benefits for your company, but the real heroes are the organizations you’re volunteering with or donating to. It’s not about the warm fuzzies you might get, or the increased employee retention, or the increase in business; it’s about creating positive change, and empowering those in need. So stay humble, and stick to it!