We recently posted a blog on defining corporate social responsibility, but we want to take this time to elaborate on its importance in strategic plans for both corporations and nonprofit organizations, especially with the new year rapidly approaching.
Before we delve in, if you’re part of a corporation, take a minute to think about some of the programs you offer that can be considered socially responsible (in short, they should be positively impacting the community). Are there any programs that you know of? If they exist, what kind and how much of an impact are they having on the local community? How engaged are employees in these programs?
If you’re part of a nonprofit organization, what kind of programs do you participate in with corporations to help solidify relationships in the community? Are you actively seeking these kinds of connections? Are you helping to educate corporate officials why the relationship is mutually beneficial?
So, final question. Did you have a good answer to any of the above questions? If so, this is key information you need to work toward a larger, overall success in the realm of social responsibility (from both the corporate and nonprofit side). If you weren’t 100% sure about your answers, don’t worry quite yet. Obtaining this information can be tough, but it’s important for the future. Below, we discuss more concrete examples on how your organization can either continue to or even start to benefit from programs like these, depending on your strategy for social responsibility in 2015.
Corporate Social Responsibility – How Corporations Benefit
As mentioned in our earlier blog about corporate social responsibility, current times don’t allow for companies to simply be in business for the sake of making a profit anymore. While consumers may rely on corporations for goods and services, the level of competition allows customers to make decisions based on several factors, including (maybe surprisingly) how much good a corporation is also doing outside of the workplace. Many individuals today are basing their corporate loyalties on how companies are positively impacting their community.
A Better Public Image
A corporation’s public image is at the mercy of it’s social responsibility programs and how aware consumers are of them (remember, this is the biggest obstacle – education and awareness)! According to a study by Cone Communications, 9 out of 10 consumers would refrain from doing business with a corporation if there existed no corporate social responsibility plan.
For example, if a company is heavily involved in the practice of donating funds or goods to local nonprofit organizations and schools, this increases the likelihood that a consumer will use their product. Additionally, if a corporation takes great care to ensure the materials used in its products are environmentally safe and the process is sustainable, this goes a long way in the eye of the public.
If you haven’t seen the Scarecrow video from Chipotle, you should take a few minutes to watch it.
Remember, consumers feel good shopping at institutions that help the community. Clean up your public image (and broadcast it to the world!)
Better and More Media Coverage
Going along with how the public sees your corporation, the amount of positive media coverage a corporation receives is extremely important for business. It doesn’t matter how much your company is doing to save the environment if nobody knows about it. As they say, it’s okay to toot your own horn every once in a while. Make sure you’re forming relationships with local media outlets so they’ll be more likely to cover the stories you offer them.
How much good a company can do in the local communities, or even beyond that, is corporate social responsibility. And the better the benefits, the better the media coverage.
On the other hand, however, if a corporation participates in production or activities that bring upon negative community impacts, the media will also pick this up (and unfortunately, bad news spreads quicker than good news). Media visibility is only so useful in that it sheds a positive light to your organization.
Fosters a Positive Workplace Environment
This section is short and simple because it’s just common sense – employees like working for a company that has a good public image and is constantly in the media for positive reasons. Happy employees almost always equals positive output.
According to Ryan Scott at Causecast:
It’s clear that employees – particularly Millennials – are equally concerned about the corporate company they keep. One study for example, reported that 72 percent of workers said they would choose a job at an eco-friendly company over another company if given the choice.
Corporate Social Responsibility – How Nonprofits Benefit
How corporations embrace corporate social responsibility in 2015 is also going to be of great importance to the nonprofit world. Corporate giving programs, which can include everything from matching gifts to volunteer grants; from team building volunteer efforts to fundraising events.
These types of programs, which vastly increase the public good that corporations are doing, are vital to nonprofit organizations because of the great monetary and volunteer implications.
Greater Funding through Employee Matching Gift Programs
Corporations that offer matching gift programs are essentially doubling donations that its employees are giving to eligible nonprofits. For example, if an employee provides a $100 donation to a nonprofit of their choice, his or her employer (if the company offers a matching gift program) will write an additional $100 check, thereby increasing total funds brought in. It’s really that simple!
A recurring theme here seems to be the education factor of it. These are phenomenal socially responsible programs that benefit both corporations and nonprofits, but if they are underutilized because of a lack of awareness, then these programs do little good. As a nonprofit, encourage corporations to promote these programs to employees – in fact, offer to help them! Use social media outlets as a way to spread the word. Sometimes a simple Facebook post can make all the difference.
It should also come as no surprise that matching gift programs increase employee engagement for companies that offer these kinds of socially responsible programs, but they also help foster deeper nonprofit-donor relationships. If you’re looking to increase fundraising from existing donors, matching gift programs are a great place to start.
Greater Time Commitments through Employee Volunteer Grant Programs
Corporations that offer volunteer grants, or even offer paid time off to volunteer at nonprofit organizations, are bringing in helping hands to eligible nonprofit organizations. A corporation with this kind of program might offer (for example) a $250 check to a nonprofit once an employee has volunteered at least 10 hours with the organization. There are also pay-per-hour grants that many corporations offer, paying a certain dollar amount per hour volunteered.
This kind of socially responsible program is a win-win for both parties involved. Employees of corporations are seen volunteering and donating their time to important causes in the community, and nonprofits are receiving free time and volunteer work, which is essential the success of so many nonprofits.
Volunteer grant programs are another huge reason why corporate social responsibility is important, especially for the upcoming year!
Forging Corporate Partnerships
Yet another positive impact corporate social responsibility has on nonprofit organizations is the possibility of corporate partnerships. These partnerships are vital to the work a corporation can do in the local community, and important to a nonprofit that may not have the resources for major marketing campaigns. Longterm corporate-nonprofit partnerships can benefit everyone.
For a corporation, a partnership with a local or national nonprofit organization improves the company’s image in the public eye, as consumers can clearly see the positive impact a corporation is having on their community. A key benefit is that it makes it easier for consumers to trust a company.
For a nonprofit organization, a partnership with a local or national corporation puts its name on tons of marketing materials that otherwise could not have been afforded on tight budgets. A key benefit is the partnership brings additional awareness to the nonprofit’s cause.
Corporate Social Responsibility Helps Everyone Involved
As you can see, socially responsible programs are mutually beneficial in the corporate-nonprofit world. When working on your strategic plans for the upcoming year, make sure to take some time and look at the programs your company offers or benefits from and how they are working toward a better community and corporate environment for everyone involved. Work from there to expand your reach, and good luck!