How Businesses Can Make A Social Impact

How Businesses Can Make A Social Impact
While most companies certainly strive to continuously expand, grow and increase their profits, a cutthroat approach to making money is simply no longer advisable. These days, your clients, employees, stockholders and even governmental authorities expect that companies will consider the impact that they make on the community at large.

This caring about corporate social impact is a trend that gaining momentum. In the United Kingdom, for example, a Social Stock Exchange has been created. This allows investors to find companies with strong financial forecasts but also companies that focus heavily on their social impact. These days, social responsibility is one of the key building blocks for creating a positive reputation and legacy in our world.

How do you identify ways to enhance your company's positive impact on society while still striving to grow and be profitable? Creating a corporate responsibility plan is a way, but this plan must not be implemented until you have developed a strong strategy that emphasizes efficiency and clear goals.

You can certainly begin with some creative giving, and there are many different options. The best CSR programs will incorporate at least two, if not more, of the following creative giving options:

Consider The Environment - Make an effort and commitment to becoming a sustainable, eco-friendly business. This means using sustainable materials, creating a recycling plan, improving energy efficiency and limiting the amount of pollution produced at your place of business.

Corporate Donations - Donating company products or services to worthy causes, including planned monetary donations through a corporate foundation.

Employee Volunteering - Create opportunities that allow employees to participate in volunteer activities, such as paid time off for their work or even organizing a charitable activity during work hours.

Staff Donations - If donations are complicated and many forms must be filled out, this is a huge deterrent so make the process easy. Automatic payroll deductions each month are one option or you can provide an easy one-time donation option.

A Gift Matching Option - When employees donate, the company can match those donations up to a set amount. This can be a great incentive.

In addition to these creative giving suggestions, you need to think about strategic giving. We all want to do some good, but your program of corporate responsibility won't help anyone if runs counter to the goals and culture already established in your business model. You need to ensure that your giving program aligns with the mission and goals of your business in order for it to succeed.

You need to have a balanced and well-planned approach to a strategic charitable giving program, so ask yourself these types of questions:

Is a successful program addressing a particular cause viable financially?

Will the company's involvement have enough of a positive impact to justify the cost of the project and the investment of time and resources?

How will these efforts be used to improve our business in general? (There is no reason not to publicize your charitable efforts and use these endeavors as a source of public relations or for the recruitment of new talent.)

Is our business set up to fully help and support the charitable cause?

Is there already a culture of philanthropy present at our company or does this need to be established?

Are the top-level managers visibly supporting these efforts?

Efficiency, however, must be a priority as well. Again, a CSR program - even with excellent intentions - will not make a significant social impact if it is run inefficiently and cannot be sustained over the long term. The financial, personnel, management and organizational considerations that play into a successful CSR program are many and complex.

In many cases, the best way to ensure the entire process is being handled as efficiently as possible is to work with a trusted partner organization that can professionally manage many - if not all - of the administrative aspects of your CSR program. This allows you - as a CSR manager or executive - to concentrate more fully on participating personally in the CSR program and encouraging others to do so.

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