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Four Ways to Ensure Corporate Social Responsibility Efforts Make a Difference

Posted on December 22, 2021

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Imagine this: you are made the Corporate Social Responsibility Officer at your organization. You have access to resources that can make a real difference in the community you love. The question that challenges you the most is, “how can our corporation create lasting change?”

A web search for “does my donation make a difference?” reveals more than 50-million results. These results show everything from inspirational videos to blog posts that are more cynical than charitable. Instead of sorting through millions of search results, look at these four steps to ensure your corporate philanthropy is making a difference.

Do the Research

One way to ensure your corporate social responsibility makes a difference is to become knowledgeable in your field of interest. Many issues plaguing the community are deeper than what is on the surface. To make lasting changes, a CSR officer needs to understand the interconnected nature of the problem and how to address the challenges.

It is also essential to understand the issue from different perspectives. Consider diversity, equity, and inclusion when making decisions. Find ways your efforts can remove barriers, bring people together, and impact as many people as possible to the greatest extent possible.

Share your research and conclusions with the public. Contact donors and other nonprofit organizations and share the barriers you discover. You may even want to contact state representatives to influence public policy.

Be Accountable and Adaptable

The second method to ensure lasting change is to hold yourself and your organization accountable. Ask yourself question like, “are our CSR efforts socially responsible and sustainable?” and “are we looking beyond the financial return and considering the best ways to engage the community and our employees?”

When you look through the lens of corporate accountability, you can make better decisions that help the right causes. You reduce bias as much as possible and position your organization to be adaptable as change happens.

While holding yourself accountable can be difficult, it is vital to make sure your approach serves the issue at hand. These issues are complex, and community engagement might not be what you hypothesized in your initial research. Staying alert and adaptable will help you develop the social and civic capital your community needs.

Go Beyond the Ribbon Cutting

Another essential method to ensure your corporate social responsibility makes a difference is to plan for long-term goals. The grantees of your largess will celebrate a grand opening, ribbon cutting, or public announcement, but they might not have the resources or knowledge to sustain the changes you made in their community.

Lasting change requires a long-term commitment. Supply funds, training, and resources to help the community sustain the initiative over time. This ensures the maximum impact for everyone in the community and preserves the alignment of your brand with the signature cause.

Measure the Results

The last step to creating long-term change is to use a data framework to report the outcomes. Outcomes-based reporting is critical to the survival of your corporate social responsibility efforts. Here are some example questions to answer in your report:

  • What have you learned that will shape your future giving?
  • Will you continue to fund a particular organization or program?
  • Will you change your grantmaking criteria or adjust your philanthropic strategy?

Your specific, data-driven answers will set the standard for your CSR efforts and for the organization for years to come.

Be a Community Advocate

Giving back to your community can be a challenge. The issues that plague our communities are often complex. A corporate social responsibility team needs time to evaluate the issues before they can present a solution.

If you perform research, hold yourself accountable, invest in the future of your grantees, and use a data-driven framework to report your outcomes, you are likely to create lasting change in your community. To learn more, contact IMPACT to build a support network and become an advocate for your community.

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