Understanding Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) refers to the efforts made by a company to improve society and contribute towards sustainable development. It is a self-regulating business model where a company holds itself accountable to itself, its stakeholders and the general public. And it involves initiatives to take responsibility for the business’ impact on a range of issues from human rights to the environment.
The purpose of CSR is to encourage businesses to conduct their companies in an ethical manner and work towards having a positive impact on society. There are four main types of CSR:
- Environmental responsibility. Reducing a company’s environmental impact, for example. You see this with many companies working hard to become B Corps.
- Ethical responsibility. Acting in a fair and ethical way to customers, employees and stakeholders.
- Philanthropic responsibility. How a company spends its resources to help make the world a better place. This could involve charity fundraising, donating profits to charity, and supporting individual philanthropic efforts of staff members.
- Financial responsibility. Making financial investments into the above three areas and backing up what the company says it’s going to do. This can involve research and development into more sustainable products, hiring a diverse workforce and training staff on social awareness and environmental concerns. The company will also need to be clear and transparent on where this money has been spent.
The Importance of CSR in Today’s Business World
CSR is only growing in importance for businesses today.
The Rise of Ethical Consumerism
Ethical consumerism has steadily been on the rise and continues to increase today. It involves consumers making purchase decisions based on what brands do to help the planet or how they give back to society.
Immediately post-pandemic, 60% of people were making more environmentally friendly, sustainable, or ethical purchases. And 90% of these people planned to continue long term. In fact, in 2020 the ethical market in the UK was worth up to £15 billion.
Put simply, people want to buy from brands that are doing good in the world.
The Impact on Business Reputation and Trust
By engaging in CSR activities, being clear and transparent about the money you’re investing in them and donating to good causes, you show your customers that you’re not only selling them something but you’re also making a difference to the world.
You’re becoming a trusted business and your reputation will be all the better for it. Similarly, if you collaborate with your suppliers on CSR issues, whether ethical sourcing, fair trade or environmental standards, you’re enhancing your business and that of your suppliers too. You’ll ensure quality and sustainability of your supply chain and also help your suppliers boost their reputation too. This helps build trust, mutual respect and long-term partnerships with the businesses in your supply chain.
CSR And Fundraising
So, what role does fundraising play in CSR? Let’s take a look.
Increased Business Support for Charitable Causes
Supporting charities is a key part of philanthropic CSR. This could be donating a percentage of profits to charity or could involve running corporate fundraising events to raise money for specific good causes. Many companies opt to create product lines that closely align to certain causes, with a sum of money from each purchase going directly to charity.
Philanthropic CSR doesn’t just involve charity fundraising. Often businesses will encourage their staff to donate their time and skills to local charities during working hours. This could consist of one charitable day per employee each month perhaps. Other businesses also use matched gifting as part of their philanthropic CSR, where they match any charitable donations made by employees or customers.
CSR Fundraising as a Competitive Advantage
As more and more customers are looking to make ethical, sustainable and responsible purchases, those businesses that are involved in philanthropic CSR and charity fundraising will be more likely to obtain a competitive advantage. If it’s a straight choice between two companies – one that gives to charity and one that doesn’t – customers will be likely to choose the philanthropic one.
Plus, if you make charitable donations part of a product choice for example – where X% of money made will go to charity – you give customers an easy and ethical choice.
Implementing CSR in Fundraising Strategies
When you want to raise money for a charity alongside your CSR initiatives, it’s important to be strategic about it.
Aligning with Corporate Values
For your CSR initiatives to be taken seriously, they need to clearly align with your business values and the way you operate your organisation. Remember, CSR is about holding your business accountable for the good you can do in the world. It’s not a token gesture.
For instance, if your business is doing harm to the environment by the way you run your operation, simply giving money to an environmental charity will be seen by many as a token effort. Being accused of greenwashing for example can be extremely detrimental to a business’ reputation. Instead, this charitable giving should be done alongside a change to the way the business is run and a commitment to being more sustainable and environmentally friendly at all levels of the organisation.
Before you decide on which charities to give to as part of your philanthropic CSR, look at your business values and what else you’re doing to improve in this area. You’ll know when it’s the right fit and your customers will know it too.
Employee Involvement in CSR Fundraising
Good CSR strategies permeate all aspects of your business. Again, giving to charity without support and buy in from your staff is more of a token effort rather than something that can elicit real change. You’ll want your employees to be involved in fundraising, donate their time and play an active role in the positive changes you’re making.
Employee involvement could consist of personal fundraising, organising corporate fundraising events or donating their time and skills to charity.
Using easyfundraising to Help Raise Money
At easyfundraising, we offer you a simple and hassle-free way to boost your charity fundraising. All you need to do is set up a business account with easyfundraising and choose a charity to support from the more than 190,000 we work with. Then it’s just a case of shopping online for your business supplies from any of our 7,500+ partner retailers. When you spend with one of our retailers, they will make a charitable donation on your business’ behalf at no extra cost to you. You’d be surprised how much money you can raise simply by buying your business essentials.
You can also encourage your staff to sign up to personal easyfundraising accounts so they can donate to charity every time they shop online too.
The Future of CSR and Fundraising
As ethical consumerism continues to grow and the spotlight sits on brands and the role they play in the wider world, the importance of CSR will only increase. And with so many charities in need of funds, charitable giving will play a crucial role in many business’ CSR strategies.
Consumers are becoming more and more aware of CSR and the need for brands to be ethical, responsible and sustainable. This means that business must invest properly in CSR, plan it strategically, let it permeate all aspects of their organisation and hold themselves accountable.