Do you think that CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) is meaningful only for big corporates and will steer you away from your core activities? Do you think doing good for the society and environment always needs money?
Think again! You do not need to get your “house in order” and generate sustainable revenue before thinking about giving back to the society you live in.
Contrary to popular belief, developing a relevant and genuine CSR campaign is a key ingredient to accelerate growth and improve ROI. Including social responsibility, where you give time or monetary donations to further social good and/or sustainability efforts, in the business plan from the very beginning is good for your company’s bottom line.
The lesson that many businesses have learned the hard way is that there is not just a single bottom line, but triple bottom lines also called the three Ps – People, Planet, and Profits.
In today’s economic world, you shouldn’t be thinking of CSR as just a giveaway with no returns. It actually serves all your bottom-lines and is about more efficient employees, more loyal and engaged customers, and improved overall profits, all while working for a good cause. When people feel proud to work for you, it boosts their morale and results in better employee retention as well as talent acquisition.
Strong corporate strategies and meaningful values are considered important by investors who look at your company too. Here are a few tips for small startups to weave CSR along with core values into their organizational fabric.
Match your brand with a cause
A strong alignment between your brand’s goals and the cause you are supporting is very critical to the success of your CSR initiative. If the match is poor, the CSR programme will end up confusing your consumers, make them feel disengaged, and result in your values slowly falling off the radar.
An easy way to ensure that CSR matches your vision is to check if there is a logical tie between operations at business and your cause. For instance, if you are a green beauty product company, it is best to invest in reducing carbon footprint and increase the usage of sustainable packaging.
Another way to develop an authentic CSR programme is to engage your employees in the ideation process. This will also be helpful in boosting employee engagement and thus retention.
Connect with consumers
Consumers like companies that make the world a better place. According to a recent Aflac survey, millennials are 66 percent more likely to buy from a company that not just sells a quality product but also gives back to society.
The survey also found that using social media platforms to create awareness for a cause is highly effective, and also for attracting donations. But beware – consumers easily lose confidence if you are not true to your cause or regular in your efforts.
Partner with other organizations
Partnering with organizations that are aligned with your brand’s vision and goals is the fastest way to generate more results and goodwill. However, one should have clear intent and budget in mind to make it work.
If you are partnering with an NGO that is innovative in their approach or solution to tackle the cause, that will inevitably give you an edge.
Many small organizations struggle to correctly measure the outcome of a CSR programme as it involves a wide range of metrics. However, it should not be difficult to measure if you focus on the outcome and not just money/time spent.
Determine an organization’s level of commitment to a cause by determining how the programme has changed the lives of the community stakeholders and employee volunteers and made the world a better place. Listening to your stakeholders about what they value most can help you choose better metrics.
Build to last
Millennial groups are smart enough to understand if you fully committed to the social cause or just checking off a box on your to-do list. CSR is a strategy for the long-term health of your organization and should be designed to make an impact over an extended period of time. Social media results or end-of-year donations should not be your reason to start off a CSR programme.
Embracing CSR will not only solve the world’s problems and make you feel good but is also a wise corporate strategy that will give your business a competitive advantage. With time and a financial budget in mind, you can do social good at any level of your business growth. At its core, businesses should give back via CSR because it’s our moral responsibility.
Namrata Kothari is the Founder of Upword Media, which helps startups communicate with their customers and audience better.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)