What is corporate social responsibility?
Corporate social responsibility (also known as CSR or corporate citizenship) describes a company’s efforts to improve society in some way. These efforts are wide-reaching. Common examples of CSR programs include donating cash and in-kind goods to nonprofits, providing grants for employee volunteer hours, implementing grant programs, changing production or purchasing processes to benefit environmental or social justice causes, committing to diverse hiring practices, and more.
Who does CSR impact?
CSR impacts companies, nonprofits, and employees, as well as society as a whole. Corporate social responsibility is not a mandated practice in the United States; instead, it is something extra that companies do to improve their local and global communities. This means that the general public can be impacted by CSR as well when they get to reap the benefits of companies’ do-good efforts.
What is the purpose of corporate social responsibility?
Corporate social responsibility programs aim to give structure to a company’s efforts to give back to the community, participate in philanthropic causes, and provide positive social value. Businesses increasingly turn to CSR to make a difference and build a positive brand around their company. And because social responsibility is not a mandated practice, it can function as a powerful differentiator for companies that partake.
How can CSR programs help nonprofits?
CSR helps encourage companies to get involved and support a wide range of nonprofit causes. For those charitable organizations, taking a strategic approach to leveraging social responsibility opportunities can help drive corporate giving revenue, employee volunteerism, and more.
Though individual donors continue to make up roughly three-fourths of an organization’s total monetary contributions, CSR initiatives can assist nonprofits in driving the remaining 25% of funding after they’ve maximized their individual support. Not to mention, some CSR programs (such as matching gifts) can even increase individual giving, as well!
How much money has been donated as a result of corporate giving?
Corporations donated a total of $36 billion to nonprofits in 2022. 28% of total giving went to education programs, while 25% went to health and social services, and 16% went to community and economic development programs.
How does CSR relate to ESG?
Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) refers to sets of criteria used by investors and financial services providers to screen the societal and environmental impact of companies’ policies and decisions, including their CSR programs. These criteria are then used to prioritize investments and encourage wider adoption of CSR activities and ethical governance. In practice, ESG principles essentially grade CSR programs and help investors avoid investing in companies that engage in unethical practices or conflict with their values.
CSR Statistics: What You Need to Know
Individuals work for companies with matching gift programs.
Of Fortune 500 companies offer volunteer grant programs.
Is donated by the top 10 corporations annually in cash to nonprofits.
Is donated through matching gift programs each year.
Of corporate donations are made through matching gift programs.
Of employees believe companies must lead with purpose.
Of consumers want to buy from companies making the world a better place.
Of people want to know about a company’s CSR efforts.
Source: Double the Donation Research
Benefits of Corporate Social Responsibility
Companies with strong corporate social responsibility programs are looking for nonprofits to receive their support in the form of grants, matching gift programs, and volunteer grants. CSR initiatives help nonprofits find support beyond individual donors.
Research shows that consumers are more likely to work with companies or purchase goods from companies that are socially responsible. You can also raise brand awareness by being featured on donor recognition walls or acknowledged in marketing materials.
Employees like working for companies that have positive public images and make the news for good reasons. Nearly 60% of employees who are proud of their company’s social responsibility are engaged by their jobs and are more likely to be retained.
CSR is a thoughtful and practical way to give back to society. When businesses are conscious of their social and environmental impact on the world, they can benefit society by giving back and helping to find solutions to everyday issues.
Types of Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporations offer monetary grants to organizations whose missions and projects align with theirs. To acquire a grant, a nonprofit must undergo an application process, where they must meet a series of conditions and create a case for support. The business will then choose one or more nonprofits to award a grant and disburse the money from a designated fund. Essentially, nonprofits try to stand out among other applicants to win the grant.
However, there are some rare instances of much less competitive grant programs in which most 501(c)(3) nonprofits can apply and receive funding. For instance, the Google Ad Grants program supplies any and all eligible nonprofits with $10,000 each month to use on its paid advertising platform. If you meet the criteria, you’ll receive the funding. Most nonprofits turn to a grant manager to acquire corporate grants like these.
Corporate philanthropy involves businesses promoting the welfare of others, usually through charitable donations of funds or goods. Instead of issuing grants that require applications, companies simply give donations to nonprofits. Event sponsorships in exchange for non-tangible perks like publicity are another common form of corporate philanthropy.
Businesses can leverage this type of CSR in various ways, though one of the most popular methods is by matching gifts their employees make to nonprofits. Corporations that offer matching gift programs essentially double the donations that their employees give to eligible organizations. This approach simplifies the entire CSR process for the business and allows employees to actively guide the business’s philanthropic priorities while driving extra impact for their favorite causes—a win-win-win!
Corporations can encourage their employees to volunteer for nonprofits as part of intentional CSR programs. Many companies allocate paid employee hours for volunteering throughout the year, and many more encourage involvement by offering volunteer grants to the nonprofits where their employees volunteer.
This kind of socially responsible program is a win-win for every party involved. Employees volunteer and donate their time to important causes in the community, and nonprofits receive free time and volunteer work, which is essential for the success of so many organizations. Not to mention the reputation the business can build as they support local missions!
Corporations can demonstrate environmental leadership in several ways. For example, they can:
- Reduce their carbon emissions in a variety of ways
- Incentivize the recycling of their products
- Examine their supply chains, vendors, and partners to make environmentally-minded changes
- Update their production processes to incorporate recycled materials
- Give back to environmental causes
By showing that they care about improving and preserving the environment, companies can gain more support and business, and also build a solid reputation as an environmental leader.
Ethical Labor Practices
Part of being socially responsible for a corporation means participating in ethical labor practices. These practices can include:
- Offering more competitive salaries and compensation packages to employees
- Providing generous parental leave
- Offering tuition reimbursement and student loan repayment support
- Cooperating with employee unions
- Establishing governance and policies to prevent corruption and conflicts of interest
- Reviewing supply chains and partnerships to cut ties with vendors and organizations with unethical practices
- Transitioning to employee-owned models
Following ethical labor practices reflects well on companies and causes more individuals to want to work with them—and consumers feel better about buying their goods or services.
In being economically responsible, companies “pay their dues” to society. This is often done by:
- Keeping up with their taxes
- Investing back into their communities
- Providing the required level of public transparency into their finances
- Paying their employees competitive wages
- Avoiding dramatic pay discrepancies
- Investing in businesses and startups that further the social, environmental, or economic good
Companies that take part in economic responsibility do good by serving as role models of what is possible in a time when trust in large businesses is at a low.
Workplace giving is a specific type of corporate philanthropy within the overall CSR umbrella. Workplace giving (or employee giving) programs are designed to very intentionally encourage and incentivize employees to interact with nonprofits. A business may partner with specific nonprofits for its workplace giving programs or, as is more common, offer blanket programs that can benefit any eligible nonprofit.
Here are two of the most popular forms of workplace giving:
Matching Gift Programs
Matching gifts are a type of corporate philanthropy in which companies match donations that their employees make to nonprofit organizations.
When an employee makes a donation, they’ll request the matching gift from their employer, who then makes their own donation. Companies usually match donations at a 1:1 ratio, but some will match at a 2:1, 3:1, or even a 4:1 ratio.
Matching gifts are also growing in popularity. Check out these statistics:
- 65% of Fortune 500 companies offer matching gift programs.
- 84% of donors say they’re more likely to make a donation if a match is offered.
- 1 in 3 donors indicates that they would give a larger gift if matching was applied to their donation.
- 11% of total corporate cash contributions have gone through corporate matching gift programs.
Matching gifts can make a huge difference in nonprofit fundraising, as well as employee engagement. Nonprofits should use database and screening tools to identify donors who are eligible for donation matches.
Volunteer grants are a form of corporate giving that encourages employees to volunteer in their local community. Companies then provide monetary grants to organizations where these employees regularly volunteer based on their verified volunteer hours. These programs are also a great way for businesses to accomplish two goals at once: giving back through CSR and fostering a stronger internal culture through team volunteering events.
Volunteer grants are a great way to turn volunteer time into tangible funds and are also rising in popularity. For example:
- 40% of Fortune 500 companies offer volunteer grant programs.
- 80% of companies with volunteer grant programs offer between $8-$15 per hour volunteered.
- 66% of companies that were surveyed provided paid-release time volunteer programs.
Volunteer grants essentially help nonprofits meet their volunteering and fundraising goals at the same time. Like with matching gifts, nonprofits can use tools like 360MatchPro by Double the Donation to identify volunteers who may be eligible for these programs.
How To Create Lasting Partnerships With Companies
CSR programs offer valuable opportunities for nonprofit organizations to build lasting relationships with companies.
By making use of grant programs, recruiting employee volunteers, and establishing contact, nonprofits can build inroads that will pay dividends. Special workplace giving programs, event sponsorships, in-kind donations, and more can all grow over time as both organizations see increased value in their partnership.
Businesses might also aspire to secure B-corp, ISEAL, or SASB certifications (attained through recognized third-party impact assessments) to further cement their reputations as socially responsible. Having long-term nonprofit partners that can attest to the impact and reliability of their support can be immensely helpful for these certification processes.
If your nonprofit has received support from a company through its CSR programs, how can you start the process of strengthening the relationship? Here are three easy recommendations:
Go a step beyond the traditional thank-you email with personalized eCards! Digital cards can help communicate your appreciation for your corporate sponsors in a visually-engaging way. After all, who doesn’t love receiving a thoughtful card?
Your team can either send one-off thank-you cards or eCards for special occasions. For example, design holiday cards. Then, create a personalized message to send along with it to each of your partners.
This can be a cost-effective way to show corporate partners you’re thinking of them and value their support. The year-end season is a particularly opportune time to reach out as companies reflect on the past year. Backed by digital greeting card tools, you can craft compelling designs that communicate your gratitude year-round.
For your most generous corporate partners, you might send a gift basket after wrapping up a big campaign they supported. Just like with eCards, the holiday season is the perfect time to send gift baskets as well!
You have a couple of options if you use this strategy:
- Choose a company that creates gift baskets and will handle shipping for you.
- Create your own gift baskets with some merchandise branded to your cause.
Either way, this is a great way to thank your committed corporate partners for supporting your mission.
Social Media Shoutouts
If you’re rocking and rolling on a limited budget, go with a zero-cost recognition option like social media shoutouts. Create posts thanking different sponsors and partners for their continued support for your cause. Don’t forget to tag their company’s accounts.
This is a fantastic way to publicly thank companies for their generous support. Plus, you might even generate some extra publicity for your cause this way. Companies may be so ecstatic to see the post that they share it on their page, putting your cause in front of their customers.
Corporate Social Responsibility Examples
Take a look at some well-known companies with particularly standout social responsibility programs.
Companies can get inspired by these offerings as they look to craft and refine their own, and nonprofits can seek corporate partnership opportunities with mission-focused businesses!
|Company||Annual Giving Information||Learn More|
|Walmart||$10 per volunteer hour||Walmart’s CSR program|
|Wells Fargo||$2,000 maximum match per employee||Wells Fargo’s CSR program|
|Microsoft||$15,000 maximum match per employee||Microsoft’s CSR program|
|Apple||$25 per volunteer hour||Apple’s CSR program|
|$10,000 maximum match per employee||Google’s CSR program|
|Boeing||$10,000 maximum match per employee||Boeing’s CSR program|
|ExxonMobil||$500 grant after 20 hours of volunteering||ExxonMobil’s CSR program|
|Chevron||$10,000 maximum match per employee||Chevron’s CSR program|
|Starbucks||Up to $1,000 for volunteering||Starbucks’ CSR program|
|Verizon||$750 volunteer grants for up to two nonprofits||Verizon’s CSR program|
Walmart donated more than $1.7 billion in cash and in-kind donations globally in FY2023. Walmart also donated $16 million to disaster recovery and preparedness efforts, as well as over 665 million pounds of food to Feeding America.
Google has consistently led the tech pack in its CSR efforts. Among its many goals is helping close the world’s education gap by supporting nonprofits that build platforms to scale digital learning resources. Google has also donated over $40 million and 50,000 pro bono hours to racial justice causes since 2015, plus over $100 million and another 50,000 volunteer hours to pandemic recovery and preparedness since 2020.
Not to mention, they offer Google Ad Grants, giving eligible organizations free access to their paid advertising platform. Since 2003, they’ve awarded more than $10 billion in free advertising to over 115,000 nonprofits in 51 countries.
Microsoft strengthens communities all over the world with its diverse industry-leading CSR programs. One extremely popular program provided discounts and grants to over 300,000 nonprofits to secure updated technology in 2022. Microsoft has also helped lead the charge in developing standards for responsible AI usage.
Innovative Discovery has established a breakthrough matching gift program using Double the Donation’s auto-submission functionality. Plus, the company participates in CSR by offering VTO (or paid volunteer time off), volunteer grants, employee fundraising campaigns, nonprofit sponsorships, and more.
Checkr participates in corporate social responsibility by giving charitably to the organizations their employees believe in (made quick, easy, and accessible with matching gift auto-submission through Double the Donation). Not only that, but they work with the mission of advancing fair hiring practices and offer assistance through expungement and reentry services for post-incarcerated individuals.
CSR Software for Nonprofits and Companies
Both businesses and nonprofit organizations have roles to play in corporate social responsibility programs. There are a number of software solutions designed to aid both types of organizations in making the most of the opportunities at hand.
In the end, the critical purpose of each software revolves around simplifying and increasing participation in corporate giving initiatives. Because, ultimately, all stakeholders benefit from maximal program usage.
Here’s what you should know about each type of technology!
CSR Software for Nonprofits
Nonprofits can increase their revenue by promoting matching gifts and volunteer grant programs to their supporters. Through these CSR programs and others, donors can often double their contribution, and volunteers can make an even greater impact with their time.
Double the Donation can help both nonprofits and employees take advantage of these CSR opportunities.
Double the Donation offers the world’s #1 matching gifts and volunteer grant database, with more than 8,500 organizations using it. As the most comprehensive and up-to-date resource, both nonprofits and corporate employees can gain access to thousands of profiles that can help them get their gifts matched and secure volunteer grants.
How the Database Works
The donor sees the company search tool, giving them access to the matching gift database.
The donor types the name of their employer into the auto-completing company search tool.
The donor views all of their employer’s matching gift information, forms, and guidelines.
In addition to providing access to the industry’s most comprehensive matching gift and corporate giving database, Double the Donation also allows organizations to increase engagement and funds through automated and personalized donor outreach.
By triggering follow-up emails in the hours after an individual makes a donation, each donor receives a targeted message with employer-specific program criteria and direct links to next steps for submitting their matches.
This empowers organizations to drive more eligible matches to completion by ensuring every donor is exposed to matching gift opportunities; including those who would be otherwise unaware of the programs they may qualify for.
CSR Software for Companies
Businesses can also organize their CSR programs by using CSR software. CSR software designed for companies streamlines the giving and volunteering process into one central system, making it easier for employees to participate, as well as for companies to manage!
For example, CSR software helps companies:
- Manage employee donations
- Review and approve matching gift requests
- Coordinate and promote volunteer opportunities
- Log volunteer hours
- Review and approve volunteer grant and matching gift requests
- Communicate employee giving impact
When companies choose the right CSR software to manage their giving programs, this helps them get the most out of the programs they’ve implemented. It’s also great for nonprofits because they get to benefit from those programs as more and more employees participate.
And now, corporate-focused CSR platforms are working with Double the Donation to enable powerful auto-submission functionality. This new option further streamlines matching gift requests for employees by tightening partnerships between charitable-minded companies, their employees, and the nonprofits they both support.
Additional CSR Resources
Matching Gift Companies
There are a ton of companies that match their employees’ donations.
However, companies like GE, CarMax, and Johnson & Johnson stand out in the crowd. Find out why!
Volunteer Grant Companies
Many companies offer excellent volunteer grant programs to their employees.
Learn more about the top companies who offer this and how they take part in corporate social responsibility.
Corporate Giving Programs
Corporate giving programs allow all sorts of companies to invest in social good.
Learn more about how corporate giving programs can impact nonprofits and how employees can take part.