If your firm hasn’t instituted a corporate social responsibility program (CSR), it may be time to start. CSR is becoming de rigueur, thanks to changing perceptions among consumers and business leaders alike. In one recent large-scale study by Cone Communications and Echo Research, 94 percent of respondents said they are more likely to trust companies that support charitable causes. Below are basic guidelines to help you find the right causes to embrace.
- Consider your firm’s core values, staff, clients, and location. Are specific charities or causes a natural fit? Perhaps you want to be known as an environmental leader by encouraging clients and fellow businesses to take advantage of green tax credits. Maybe you’d prefer to focus on education by providing scholarships for underprivileged students in your city.
- Get senior management’s approval and support for the idea of a CSR policy, then determine which causes to support. Will they be local, national, or global? How much money will you contribute? Are there cost-free choices you could make? Simply switching from Styrofoam coffee cups to reusable mugs, for example, costs about the same and sets your team on a path toward a greener workplace.
- In what way do you want to participate? Consider donating set sums or getting your team involved in volunteer activities like walkathons or fund-raisers. Make participation easy and appealing. King Arthur Flour, for example, provides employees 40 hours paid time off to volunteer annually. Dansko shoes, meanwhile, provides monetary incentives for employees to use low-environmental-impact commuting methods, like walking or biking to work.
- Find responsible charities to support. Consult watchdog groups like CharityWatch, which track how different charities spend the money they receive.
Finally, don’t forget to keep track of your accomplishments and share them with your staff, your clients, your community, and your industry so everyone can see how you’re making a real difference.