How To Make CSR Work

Traditional wisdom holds that investing in social causes could be very profitable for business performance. In fact, statistics show that up to 55% of customers indicate they would patronize brands that actively participate in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). But do all CSR projects achieve this effect?

Going by surveys and interviews seeking answers from both CEO’s and customers, the answer is an unsurprising no, which implies that a great number of businesses are wrongly investing their dollars in misguided CSR initiatives. Here’s what you need to do to avoid this pitfall:

#1. Be meaningful

It turns out that in the real world, customers don’t really care so much about your great CSR initiatives if they don’t have any lasting meaning on their lives.  True, meaningful impact is measurable in terms of how much you are able to make life better for your customers and stakeholders. So if you have a product that actually provides solutions, you might achieve better results with this than with sinking millions into charitable causes for the sake of developing a good reputation.

#2. Stay connected

Truly great social initiatives are those that meet the demands or expectations of stakeholders. Perhaps one reason most CSR initiatives fail to elicit the desired response or effect on bottom-line, is because most companies do not spend enough time finding out where their social efforts would be best directed.

In fact, according to indications from a report compiled by Havas’ “Project Superbrand: 10 Truths Reshaping the Corporate World”, customers expects major corporations to play an active part in improving social and economic conditions, to the same extent that they expect their governments to. This is an expectation that is so far not matched by most large companies which continue to run with profit as a clearly distinct goal from social good.

Smart social involvement, however, will be targeted towards the causes that your customers really care about.

#3. Be consistent

Consumers are becoming increasingly savvy and tend to view large corporations with the same sense of distrust usually accorded to politicians. This is because like politicians, most companies do not really appear to be genuine in their CSR initiatives. It makes no sense for example, launching a fund to support child education in one part of the world, and then turning around to employ child workers in another.

Even if your social plans are relevant to the expectations and desires of your customers, you will need to make sure that your corporate culture and practices are consistent with this image.

#4. Don’t be shy of beating your chest

There’s no point doing great CSR if no one gets to hear about it. Fortunately for businesses of everysize, connecting with the people who matter most to you has never been easier: with the right digital strategy, you can stay connected with your important publics, and keep them up to date with your activities and initiatives.

Today’s business savvy and well informed customer demands that the brands they patronize maintain certain standards of social behavior and contribution. If you use these four tips effectively, you will find that your capability to connect with your customers in the most meaningful way will be much enhanced.


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