Spearheading a Strategic Social Corporate Responsibility Initiative

corporate responsibility

I’m a bit of a workplace giving Grinch. (For proof check out Volunteering at the Office: Altruistic & Self-Serving?). I don’t object to the act of giving; I object to work expecting me to give money, food, or presents when I’ve already been given less out of the way opportunities to make charitable opportunities. By the time I get to work, I’ve already exhausted my mental and financial capacity to give. This article is for my fellow Grinches and for our altruistically minded brethren.

I get it. I do. Individuals within the company want to ensure the company gives back to society. Spread the wealth, help the less fortunate, all that jazz. Here’s a bit of news, we can encourage our workplaces to give without promoting food drives, gift drives, and money drives that mimic the drives every retail and grocery store are currently running. Since society already offers multiple ways to give in that manner, employees, managers, and business owners should be (at least in part) brainstorming and implementing giving campaigns that serve other sectors.

Corporate Strategic Social Responsibility Campaigns

The answer is relatively simple: the company can implement a strategic corporate social responsibility campaign. What is strategic social responsibility? In a webinar conducted by GWU, public relations management professor Larry Parnell defines strategic social responsibility as the “concept of doing well by doing good.”

From a business stand point, successful implementation of a strategic social responsibility campaign couples a societal benefit with a business benefit. Just giving to charity or creating a program that donates mosquito nets to African citizens is not qualify as a strategic social responsibility campaign.

Strategic campaigns engage in programs and activities that “benefit the market that [they] are hoping to serve.” A lucrative initiative for a company: helps society, nurtures their current or future customers, and cements or reinforces their credentials as experts in their marketplace. And on top of that the donations can “create positive publicity for the company.”

A good example of this is IBM. IBM, for example, donates used computers to homework centers in cities that don’t allow easy access to computers. This grants individuals within the community the potential to be better educated and more adept at utilizing technology. More importantly, those individuals will have a better idea of who IBM is and what they sell. When the time comes to look for a software or hardware for their company, they might turn to IBM first.

Encouraging Strategic Social Responsibility Campaigns

To encourage this type of campaign, employees and managers should focus on quantifying how the initiative will directly and in-directly benefit the company. The company may be willing to give, but the traditional and easy employee food drive is far less hassle, far less work, and far less expensive for the company.

First, figure out what the campaign could entail. Brainstorm a few ideas if you can. Here’s one example: if you’re employer creates websites for business owners, the company could volunteer some of their time to create or revamp websites for local or national non-profits.

Second, create a proposal that details all of the potential benefits. For example, the websites campaign:

  • Gives non-profits an online presence which could increase donations.
  • Could create positive press for the company in online, local, and national news sources.
  • Helps increase you’re presence in the community which could lead to more referrals by individuals who know of the good work.

Third, pitch the campaign to the individuals who are the most gung-ho about corporate giving first. Get their feedback and support. Eventually you will need to pitch the campaign to HR, marketing, or whichever committee is in charge of the charitable campaigns in the office.

Giving at your workplace can be more than encouraging employees to give money, food, and presents to charity. By thinking outside the box, companies can create an innovative and potentially lucrative charitable campaign that works alongside their marketing efforts. While we embrace the spirit of giving, it might be time to think about how future charitable work initiatives can extend beyond the borders of the premises.

Samantha Stauf

Samantha Stauf graduated from the University of Idaho with a degree in technical writing. In the last year and a half, she has been working in the marketing department at a local start-up

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