How to lead a culture of CSR


Plenty of companies are embracing their social conscious in a bid to attract a new type of customer but how many of them are doing it with any degree of success? The problem lies in the inability of many companies to link their CSR activities with financial rewards. The fact is, companies need to do 'giving' well otherwise they are simply making a donation.

Shareholders of publicly listed companies have a right to expect a return on investment in corporate social responsibility programs. In the same way, business owners and their people have a right to earn a living. So how do we change CSR from being a cost centre to a profit centre?

Here's five steps to leading a culture of CSR that delivers returns:

  • 1.Have a strategy

Do less better! Develop a portfolio that exactly meets your business objectives. It will mean that you are more selective with your sponsorships and more inclined to say 'no' but in the long run you have a calibre portfolio that is a superior brand fit. When you reach this place, extend the term of each agreement. On average a sponsorship reaches its full potential at three years so to exit any time before then is not making the most of the opportunity to grow into the relationship.

  • 2.Be clear on your purpose

Be absolutely clear about your big why. You can say you're the greenest, you're the cleanest, you act with integrity but how true are you to those ideologies? When your resolve is tested, it's easier to make informed decisions when you are clear about why you do what you do. This is critically important not only for the brand values you project but also because of what it says to your employees. You are more likely to onboard your employees when there is a common purpose and goal everyone is working towards.

  • 3.Make 'giving' part of your business DNA.

There needs to be alignment between your why; your strategy and your give. In the same way, there also has to be an alignment between your business values and CSR strategy. When giving is part of your business DNA it speaks volumes about how your brand fits in the community and the specific role that your brand plays. By giving we are opening up new channels of communication through collaboration with other like-minded organisations. This is turn sets up your brand for new business opportunities.

  • 4.Measure it

The true cost of any CSR program needs to be measured for it to be completely understood.

While your company might only give $100,000 in cash what price do you put on the time and expertise of your people to deliver the program? Very quickly $100,000 becomes $3.4 million because of the time and expertise required. It's equally important to know how to measure the return your investment has made on the bottom line of your company. Depending on your KPIs, measurement can include sales growth, customer acquisition, brand perception, brand awareness or database acquisitions to name a few.

It then takes a good PR department to communicate the true value of your sponsorship.

  • 5.Be consistently present

Be seen. It shows as a company that you care. It also demonstrates you have an understanding of the challenges being faced by your target market.

As leaders you don't have to have all the answers but you need to be present in the community. Don't underestimate the significance of your presence.

Does this help with your CSR strategy? Want further information to get started? Register your query at or keep following us on Facebook where we provide all the tools and tips to engage with your target market through corporate giving.

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