May 6, 2020
Thoughtful and relevant corporate social responsibility (CSR) programming can be a significant benefit to your business in normal times. But as we all know these are not normal times. Right now, more than ever before, putting in place a meaningful and impactful CSR plan is not just good for business – it is essential to the wellbeing of your company, your employees and your community.
Research has found that 72% of Americans say they feel it is more important than ever that the companies they buy from reflect their values, and 76% say supporting companies that are addressing social and environmental issues helps them feel they are doing their part. Nearly nine out of ten consumers say they’re likely to purchase from purpose-driven companies.
Therefore, identifying your values and putting them into action in a thoughtful and impactful way is crucial to reaching your target audience and giving back to your community. Start with a look at your company values and the interests of your stakeholders to identify the need you are uniquely positioned to fill and then build out a plan to channel resources into that space.
During the current pandemic and ongoing revitalization efforts, any existing CSR initiatives must include work to address the effects of COVID-19. This doesn’t mean you need to completely overhaul your programming. If you have ongoing CSR initiatives, don’t abandon your partners or causes. With many organizations losing their funding, it’s important to stick to your commitments while also finding new ways to engage with the COVID-19 impact. Likely, your partners are already addressing this issue, giving you a way to be involved organically.
Utilizing PR can raise awareness of your CSR initiatives, build interest in the causes you care about and attract other donors and partners, big and small, to support your efforts. Weighing in on pressing issues can feel overwhelming, especially in the current news cycle, so it’s important to employ PR in a thoughtful way, focusing on your cause, not your company.
It’s important to evaluate how your brand and your initiatives fit into the current narrative. Craft the right messaging around your CSR initiatives, appropriately framing your work around today’s most pressing issues. Acknowledge the problems we’re collectively facing, explain how you hope to address them and invite others to get involved as well.
Be creative with you CSR initiatives. Finding unique ways to leverage your company’s position or events will drive media interest, which in turn will help you build support for your cause and goodwill for your company. Take for example, the NFL Draft-a-Thon. Instead of cancelling or postponing the event, the NFL leverage their engaged audience to raise funds for COVID-19 relief efforts. Hosted virtually, the draft raised over $6.5 million to benefit six national nonprofits supporting community revitalization efforts.
Creating relevant, inventive CSR initiatives that tangibly address the needs of your community and then thoughtfully communicating them to your stakeholders is crucial for our collective revitalization efforts and also for the success of your business. Engaging in CSR will best prepare your company for the post-COVID-19 world in which consumers will shop with their values guiding the way.