How to Start a Corporate Social Responsibility Program

More and more companies are beginning to take notice of the importance of social responsibility today, and are realizing how much it matters to both their employees and customers. While many larger companies do offer some form of corporate giving or philanthropy, many organizations still don’t have a formal program in place, and lack any kind of employee-led initiatives.

If your organization doesn’t provide any formal opportunities for volunteering or charitable giving, have you ever thought about taking the initiative to start a program yourself? Some of the best corporate programs were originally started by an employee who wanted to make a difference.

What is corporate social responsibility?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) allows businesses large and small to enact positive change. When companies practice CSR, they’re contributing positively to society and their inititiaives often includes an economic, social, and/or environmental component. Companies practicing CSR consider their impact on people, the planet, and their purpose.

There are four main types of CSR programs:

  1. Supporting volunteer efforts
  2. Philanthropy
  3. Environmental conservation
  4. Company diversity and labor practices

The benefits of corporate social responsibility

The point of CSR is to make an impact on the communities and people a company serves and to build a better tomorrow. But there also are some profit-driven reasons companies embrace CSR:

  • Recruiting and retaining talent. Establishing a CSR program helps organizations attract and retain the best talent globally. In fact, 76% of millennials (the largest employee group today) consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work. 
  • Customer loyalty. Socially conscious companies often see higher levels of customer loyalty. Research shows that 68% of global consumers will remain loyal to a brand that practices social responsibility.
  • Revenue. People will pay more if a company is socially responsible. 73% of millennial consumers are willing to spend more on a product or service if it comes from a sustainable brand, and 87% say they’d purchase a product because the company advocated for an issue they care about. 

Building a corporate giving or volunteer program

While you may have little control over your company’s carbon footprint or hiring practices, you can participate in or even spearhead charitable giving or volunteering programs within your organization.

Choose initiatives that align with your mission & values

One way to identify opportunities for your company’s CSR program is to explore opportunities relevant to your mission. There are many worthy causes out there to support, but the more you can align your initiative with what the company already does well or particular skills your group has, the more impact you can make and the more likely the team will be to jump onboard.

Find causes that matter to your customers or members

According to a Cone Communications CSR Study, 87% of consumers would choose to purchase a product from a company that supports a social or environmental issue they care about. If there are certain causes your customers or community seem more drawn to, consider those as you evaluate different opportunities for your program.

Impact your local community

Every community has organizations working hard to make a difference. Consider supporting causes in the communties where your team lives and works. Your local United Way can be a good place to start to find volunteering opportunities in your area. 

Growing and promoting your CSR program

Chances are, you’re already pretty busy with your day job, so unless your full-time gig revolves around developing a CSR program, you probaby don’t have a ton of time to commit. That’s okay! Every little bit of effort helps and you’re not going to develop a robust initiative overnight. Start small and shoot for steady growth. What matters most is getting buy-in from others in the company and getting more people involved with the cause.

Get support from leadership 

Getting executive support from your CEO or other company leader can make or break your efforts. Without their support it can be more difficult to get funding or resources for your initiatives. But with a champion from the top ranks of the organization, you’ll see greater momentum and be more likely to get the financial support you need.

Generate buzz within the company

Communication is key to getting your CSR initiative going. Align your messaging with the company culture and get the team involved. You can use internal communication tools like Slack or Teams to generate buzz. Get friendly with your company’s social media manager as well, so you can leverage the corporate social channels to promote events and other things happening. 

Help people connect with the cause

Your teammates will be more likely to get excited about your program if they know more about the cause(s) they’re supporting. If you’re able to, have a representative from the organization you’re looking to support come and talk to your team. Have them share their mission and real stories about how they’re helping the community.

Interested in volunteer opportunities with AKPsi? Learn how you can get involved!