When she’s not managing busy press office and launch campaigns, Alex on our team oversees many important CSR programmes here at Clearbox. It’s an area she’s super passionate about and she’s written some words on what CSR is and how it can benefit communities, employees and more. Over to you, Alex!
If you’ve never heard of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), it is simply everything a company does for the betterment of the people it employs, the communities in which it operates, and the ethos it holds.
There are many different reasons why a company might pursue a CSR strategy. CSR campaigns can be a great way to boost employee morale, leading to a more engaged, proactive and efficient team. They can also cultivate positive brand recognition, thus engaging more customers in the brand's mission.
They also hold businesses accountable to stakeholders and consumers, ensuring no harm is done, or unethical practices are being promoted. And above all, CSR programmes can use corporate resources and finances to make a real, lasting difference in society. But what makes a good CSR campaign?
First thing’s first: Identify the pain points of your community.
The very first thing any company should be doing when building a CSR strategy is listening. Listening to their employees, listening to their customers and listening to their communities where they operate. This will give an idea of where help is needed, what practical support will have the biggest impact and where resources need to be focused. Giving money can always seem like the best option, however, sometimes donating time or resources is much more effective.
Create values as a springboard.
A study a few years ago from Cone Communications found that 87% of customers will purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about, and 76% will refuse to purchase a company’s products or services upon learning it supported an issue contrary to their beliefs. What a company stands for is becoming increasingly important to consumers.
Ten years ago, businesses could get by on products and services alone, but now the game has changed. People are much more concerned about making sure the companies they buy from have morals aligned with their own, care about the environment and sustainability, and have ethical practices. This is why it’s increasingly important for businesses to work hard on identifying their brand purpose, what issues they have a passion for and set out what their values are.
Have a clear plan.
Once a company has identified what help is needed and worked out how its values align with that support, businesses need to create a clear plan on how they can help. Creating a plan doesn’t have to be complicated, and businesses can start small. For example, you are a café, you have identified there is a food bank located not far from your premises, and your staff are keen to donate superfluous stock to the food bank.
In your plan, you need to think about:
• how the stock will be transported
• is the stock still in date
• does the food bank have policies on what they can receive
• when will the stock be delivered
• how often and how does this partnership evolve
The best way to formulate well-thought-out plans is to let charity and community organisations lead. They are the experts and know how best to target support.
Be agile, don’t worry if the plan changes.
Never be afraid to change the plan.
The best way to create an effective CSR campaign is to actively listen to communities about how the support is being received and change the support if needed. To use the previous example of the café, perhaps over the course of three months, the food bank no longer needs supplies of your product but instead needs equipment. Being able to quickly and easily change your support to something that is more targeted will further enhance your relationship with charities and community organisations.
Track everything you can.
Like with many areas of businesses, evaluating can be the most effective way of evolving. That is why it is vital to track how your CSR programme is affecting the people you are supporting, your staff and your consumers - after all, this is the impetus of the programme. Collecting data on how the strategy is received will inform your future plans, change levels and direction of support so it becomes more impactful and will evaluate buy-in from employees and consumers to your brand mission. We can measure successful CSR campaigns against various criteria such as:
• how often is your support used
• how relevant is your support
• are the right people receiving your support
• do your community partners feel engaged
• how is the level of trust between you and your community partners
• are your employees engaged
Businesses can track all this data through surveys, Q&As on social media, forums, questionnaires or focus groups. Companies can also use agencies like Clearbox that can impartially monitor the effectiveness of CSR programmes through monthly, quarterly, or annual reporting.
And remember, don’t forget to let people know.
This is one of the most important areas of a CSR programme.
Many businesses are doing fantastic work to improve their environmental footprint, bolster communities around the world and develop staff but they never talk about it. Forgetting to showcase a CSR programme is a big miss for companies. Discussing your CSR campaign will boost engagement with the programme, enhance accountability and most importantly, get the word out to people who may need to access the support. Companies can do this through dedicated landing pages on websites with lots of information about the programme and blog posts, social media campaigns, newsletters, reports and PR and marketing campaigns.
We’ve been running CSR campaigns for some amazing companies since we opened our doors in 2013. If you’d like to talk about a CSR programme for your business, get in touch with us via email@example.com or give us a call on 02895 622600.