Entrepreneurs and business owners often juggle a host of challenging responsibilities. On the one hand, they’re expected to drive growth and ensure the long-term viability of their organisation. On the other, they face pressure from consumers and investors to act in a way that benefits society.
You’ll be pleased to hear these obligations aren’t mutually exclusive, however. As demonstrated by our handy list of corporate social responsibility (CSR) stats, brands that support good causes and strive to make the world a better place are often more popular among consumers. What’s more, 73% of investors consider businesses’ CSR credentials when making investment decisions. In a corporate landscape increasingly concerned with noble causes, you’d be foolish not to jump aboard the CSR trend.
So, how can you build a winning CSR strategy and ensure your brand resonates with the public? We’ve put together a quick guide to get you started.
What is CSR?
CSR comprises all the actions your company takes to align with the prosocial values of your stakeholders and customers. Broadly speaking, CSR can be divided into four distinct subgroups, including:
- Environmental CSR: This encompasses all efforts to reduce your company’s environmental impact through, for example, investing in eco-friendly packaging or switching to sustainable production processes.
- Philanthropic CSR: This form of CSR involves donating money or other valuable resources to worthy causes, such as charities or community initiatives.
- Ethical CSR: Business ethics can be tricky to navigate, particularly if your supply chain is multi-layered. Ethical CSR is all about maintaining open and fair practices in all areas of your business, ensuring contracts are fair and employees at all pay grades are treated with the respect they deserve.
- Economic CSR: Economic CSR refers to the profit-boosting activities that support business growth while benefiting the wider community.
Naturally, these subcategories can overlap. When designing your strategy for CSR, it’s a smart idea to think of initiatives that encompass two or more of these values, as you’ll maximize the positive effects on your brand!
What are the key benefits of CSR?
Some business leaders approach CSR as an exercise in managing public relations. While the prospect of being cancelled by hawk-eyed Twitter users may be a good enough reason to engage in CSR, there are tons of benefits other than damage control, including:
- Enhance your relationships with regulatory bodies: Agencies such as the Equality and Human Rights Commission or the Food Standards Agency may sound a bit intimidating, but they’re designed to protect the public from unlawful business conduct or dangerous products. By strengthening your CSR strategy, you’ll boost your reputation with lawmakers and (more importantly) avoid costly fines.
- Improve your company culture: Generation Z is finally entering the workforce and bringing their progressive values with them. According to a recent survey, 75% of workers aged 18-34 want to work for businesses that make the world a better place. By supercharging your CSR strategy, you can motivate workers, reduce turnover rates, and ensure your office culture is rewarding and welcoming.
- Save money: Did you know that adopting eco-friendly business practices could actually save money in the long term? It’s a win-win!
- Improve your marketing strategy: Ethical messaging could improve your marketing strategy and help you build a strong customer base. As consumers become more committed to issues surrounding social justice and philanthropy, promoting your CSR efforts will help you to outpace competitors.
- Snap up vital financing: Companies with spotless reputations are more likely to be approved for loans and win money from investors.
- Make a difference: This should go without saying, but corporate gifting has the potential to transform people’s lives for the better – that’s enough to get super excited about!
How to create a winning CSR strategy
Now for the bit you’ve been waiting for. Here are our top tips for designing a winning CSR strategy:
- Get the senior leadership team on board: Securing unanimous support from the C-suite is vital for CSR, particularly if you want to add their names to pledges and initiatives. If you have trouble convincing anyone, remind them of the benefits listed above (and feel free to be a little emotive – they’re probably softies deep down!).
- Build CSR strategies that align with your strengths: Try to develop initiatives that align with your company’s key offerings. Let’s say, for example, you run an online bookstore. Partnering up with a charity that delivers free books to underprivileged kids will appeal to bookworms and demonstrate that you’re committed to spreading the joy of reading – not simply turning a profit.
- Do your research: It’s not always easy to know what your customers are thinking. Conducting surveys and generating customer personas will help ensure your messages are on point.
- Get the whole company involved: Enlisting the help of employees will ensure they feel part of something larger and could improve your brand image. A heart-warming picture of your employees helping the local community will look fabulous on social media!
- Set clear goals and track success: CSR strategies require meticulous planning and tracking, particularly if you’ve got numbers-oriented stakeholders to impress. At the end of the year, it’s a good idea to take stock of your successes and failures and make improvements based on reliable data.
Helpful resources for getting your CSR strategy off the ground
Before you get stuck into your CSR planning, you may wish to do a bit of research. If you’re unsure where to find resources, we’ve got you covered. Here are some of our favourites:
- Take the Good Business Club ‘Is My Business A Good Business?’ Quiz
- Deloitte’s latest sustainability survey contains heaps of actionable information about how consumers are spending their money right now.
- Want to get to the heart of what matters to your customers? Check out this guide to generating effective customer surveys.
- Use our free charity discovery tool if you’re unsure about which causes to support.
- New to the world of project management? Ace your CSR initiative with this guide to project management.
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What if you could raise funds for worthy charities while boosting leads and conversions at the same time? We’ve got fantastic news for you – Views for Change is the platform you need to build CSR into your marketing strategy. For more information about how we work, why not book a demo today?