Building, and then growing a company is not easy. It takes energetic and effective managers and employees, a detailed plan, strong fiscal management and usually, a little luck. Additionally, you want your company viewed in the best possible light by your customers (current and potential) and the community at large (both in town and on the World Wide Web). More and more companies are embracing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as not only the right thing to do, but a necessary part of business.
In the simplest terms, CSR means not only holding your company up against the highest standards, but also regularly engaging in actions or events- usually at a cost to your bottom line- that furthers social good or a cause. Participating in a fundraising drive for a local charity, allowing employees to volunteer (on company time), providing services free of charge, and straight monetary donations are all examples of CSR activities.
But what is the return on investment for these kinds of activities? After all, you’re presumably in the business to make money. There are numerous benefits that come from volunteer and pro-bono work: it gets your name out into the community; you’ll get to network with folks that you may not otherwise meet; it allows you to explore new work and perhaps, take a new, creative approach towards tackling a task; and last but not least, it will make you feel good about yourself and your company.
So, how do you leverage these efforts to make them a good return on your investments? While we strongly advocate doing volunteer or pro-bono work for “the right” reasons (i.e. helping out your neighbors and/or those in need), we are firm believers that not only is it okay to benefit from this work, it makes good business sense to do so. Just make sure you broadcast your efforts tastefully.
- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. allows us to disseminate information efficiently, effectively and interchangeably with a growing online audience. This ease of access makes social media outlets a great way to share pictures, videos and stories about the pro-bono and charity work your business is involved with. Social media enables your customers, clients and the community at large to become part of a conversation about your company’s activities beyond business.
- Clients, stockholders and community members appreciate hearing from C-level executives of a company. Create a blog written by a C-level executive and establish a schedule in which he or she will contribute details about your company’s charity work or pro-bono efforts.
- Keep in mind, however, social media channels are where company reputations are enhanced or torn apart. Be sure to monitor the activity in these channels and respond accordingly.
- Create a citizenship report that includes the names of organizations the company has supported, the hours spent on each initiative, the goals met and share a story of how someone’s life or business benefited from the company’s efforts. In the report, be sure to include information about how your customers/clients/shareholders might contribute to the organization.
- Be sure to distribute this report far and wide and post it in an obvious spot on your website for maximum exposure.
Your Own Employees
Make sure your own employees are well aware (and versed) in the CSR efforts of your organization. Many companies have employee-driven committees that determine the direction of the community support efforts of the year. Having engaged employees is crucial to a successful CSR campaign as they act as ambassadors for your company while they are out in the community.
Finding ways to promote your business’s charitable work requires a bit of effort. However, it will benefit you tremendously. Participating in CSR activities will position you as a valued and respected member of the community; one that strives to improve the livelihood and well-being of its residents. This will undoubtedly benefit you, your employees and ultimately, your business.