Top Ten Tips - Developing a Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy

Top Ten Tips - Developing a Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy

Developing a corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy for your company can have a huge impact on society. But there’s also pay-back for the organisation too in enhancing public reputation, employee engagement and developing the skills of your workforce.

It can also help attract talented new employees to your organisation who want to work for a company whose values they believe in.

It can enhance business performance because consumers often buy from suppliers whose vision and values resonate with their own.

Here are our top tips for developing a CSR strategy.

1. Know your business

A good CSR strategy will be aligned to the type of business you deliver. It should complement the kind of work you do already and be linked to the values and causes your customers also believe in. For example, if you are a pet food supplier then fundraising for an animal charity like the RSPCA, the Dog’s Trust or a local animal shelter would work brilliantly. Or, for example, if you sell beauty products or women’s clothes, then supporting female-friendly causes like a breast cancer charity or a women’s refuge would help inspire your customers/clients to back you.

2. Make sure you’ve already for the basics right

There’s no point investing time, financial and staff resources into good causes if you haven’t got your own company’s affairs in order. For example, you need to make sure you’re doing what you can to reduce environmental waste and boost recycling, to source products in a sustainable way, to reduce your carbon footprint, to boost local unemployment and pay a living wage.

3. Involve your colleagues

Developing your CSR strategy with your colleagues, whatever level they work at, is incredibly important. It needs to be something that not only reflects the company’s values and goals but which everyone feels passionately about. By discussing how you can give something back to your community, a charity or cause with the people you work with, you could find a creative way of developing your CSR programme.

4. Think about what you can offer

You need to reflect on what key skills you have within your organisation. What can you offer better than other organisations? You need to combine this skill-set with what you’re passionate about. How do you see your company making a difference? For example, charity work forms a big part of UK bakery firm Greggs. The Greggs Foundation raises money to fund the Greggs Breakfast Club, which contributes food to school breakfast clubs across the country.

5. Look for opportunities

Once you know how you’d like to make a difference and to whom, you need to keep track of local, regional and industry sector news to ensure you can act on opportunities when they arise. For example, if you have pledged to support a local children’s charity, why not keep track of their news by signing up to their newsletters or arranging to meet the fundraising manager regularly? This will ensure your company is able to help sponsor an event, fundraise for new equipment or take part in a charitable event as soon as they crop up.

6. Partner with experts

A successful CSR programme will enable your company to showcase the impact your time, research or financial investment has had. By working in partnership with experts, whether locally or nationally, you can have a bigger impact. For example, if your CSR programme aims to reduce the impact the packaging your product has on the environment, why not team up with stakeholders from your local recycling plant, the council, or even product design students at a university?

7. Manage your resources

Once you have decided what you want to concentrate your CSR programme on it’s important to manage what resources you have to dedicate to the project. You need to determine what time your workforce can dedicate to CSR-related projects and what budget is available to fund activities.

8. Think about the impact on profits

Your CSR strategy will of course be about harnessing good will and making a difference. But if it’s marketed well, it can also have a positive impact on the perception of your business and generate new customers or clients. For example, if you’re a law firm providing pro bono legal advice to people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it, paying customers may consider you more favourably.

9. Lead by example

Having the right leadership in place is essential to the success of any CSR programme. Developing your CSR projects shouldn’t be a rainy day project. The projects, charities or organisations you support should inspire you every day. To do this well, you could set up a CSR Steering Group, you could have CSR Champions or ambassadors throughout the firm.

10. Tell people about your good work

Helping charities, organisations and good causes achieve their own goals – whether through your manpower, finances or fundraising – also makes good news stories. The added bonus of having a good CSR programme is that it can also improve the reputation of your company. Don’t forget to collaborate with your stakeholders to tell the media, and wider community, about the impact your investment is having.

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