Businesses are adopting an increasingly social approach. Companies in contemporary times don’t amount public service to expenses. Instead, serving society is seen as an investment—this investment, more than often, takes the form of Corporate Social Responsibility.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) can be described as a form of business self-regulation that holds the company socially accountable for its actions. In crude terms, it is used to describe the company’s efforts to uplift living standards or quality of life in their surrounding environment or area of operations. These efforts fall into a wide range of probabilities, from donations to campaigns to environment-conscious decisions. Thus, there isn’t a consolidated, predetermined set of “right ways” to practice CSR.
The public’s views of the company have become pivotal to its success and sustenance even. As a result, stakeholders constantly prioritize a more transparent environment, allowing growth room for the brand image.
CSR thus has stopped being a stigma and can be seen as a meaningful way of value creation.
It has been proven multiple times that operating solely as a singular entity yields less benefits and returns than when a partner is involved. The concept of CSR partnership in corporate world is relatively new but highly popular and sought after. To fulfill their Corporate Social Responsibility goals much more efficiently and effectively, organizations realized that partnering with other similar businesses and organizations paves a way to success. This has proven true because the formation of partnerships has played a very significant role in CSR. Such partnerships bring businesses, people, and organizations together and pool their resources to achieve the set goals. While developing the plans meant for long term public benefit, the following guiding principles must be kept in mind:
- The concentration of CSR efforts: The best, most buildable opportunities will come from areas that require specific developments. This means that from drafting to implementation, CSR practices must thoroughly cover at least one aspect lacking in the operative area instead of going overboard and accelerating mediocre development in multiple factors.
- Creating a deep understanding of benefits so reaped: The company must first understand the benefits of their actions and then educate the beneficiaries. From employees to the general public, there should be a mutual appreciation of practices carried and the benefits they’ll yield.
- Find the right partners: Finding the right CSR partner is a significant commitment that will help you improve the overall status. The appropriate partner should be one to understand company policy and ethos. It should accelerate company development and increase the benefits yielded out of CSR practices on the ground.
Finding the Perfect Partner to dispose of CSR responsibilities
Choosing the appropriate CSR partner for your company can be an overwhelming task initially. However, this selection presents an opportunity to get the most out of invested resources, expand the positive brand image and get the most out of your partnership. It is essential to associate with the right cause and partner.
The most critical factor to consider is undoubtedly Thematic Alignment. This means that when choosing a CSR partner, it is imperative to identify a theme or cause both constituents are comfortable working on. The theme so picked should then be in consonance with the activities carried, the company morals, principles, and mission statement. Conducting a baseline strategy report to help dovetail the cause to your organization is one of the premier steps in the process.
The area targeted should be in the vicinity of the organization’s groundwork centres to positively influence people into advocating for the organization. This, in turn, will strengthen goodwill by multi-fold.
The benefits should never be one-sided and always mutual in the context of the CSR partnership. Some key dimensions to be considered while making the decision are
– Nature of benefits,
– Cost-benefit analysis,
– Benefit-split, and
– Time frame.
Moreover, the following questions should be asked before selecting a partner:
- Does the organization clearly understand the entire array of benefits and the associated issues they effectively manage the potential of CSR activities?
- Does the activity focus on real value creation opportunities, where we can partner with society to realize simultaneous benefits?
- Are the opportunities so presented significant, scalable, and supportive of your overall strategic priorities?
Some Key Points to be kept in mind while choosing a partner are:
- Cross-Check the Credentials of the partner Organisation: It is critical to ensure you’re getting in bed with a credible organization. Several aspects are to be considered while establishing credibility, namely their scope of activities under CSR land law, financial statements, registration certificates, etc. Not just tangible aspects but intangible ones, including board composition and good governance, are necessary.
- Look for Innovators: Off-beat community projects garner more support than mainstream ones. These choices set one’s organization apart from others. Spending your profits, the right way can immensely impact brand image. Thus, a partner with an innovative approach will add value to your CSR investments and give your organization a competitive edge.
- Assess Cost Implications: Drafting an estimated budget to deliver a scalable and sustainable impact in the long term is pivotal. Thus, defining cost requirements at the onset of projects will help you decide your targeted scale of the practice.
- Analyse Risks: Risk analysis and mitigation are by far essential factors to be taken into consideration. You must ensure the partner brand has no questionable or unethical activities going on. This will reduce the plausible liability of the company.
- Leverage Branding: Social Causes can be a gateway to tap into your marketing and branding potential. Your actions must display intent and establish a real-world connection with the beneficiaries. This intensifies impact and validates brand commitment.
- Selecting the right Cause: The right cause is vital because both companies possess ample resources to develop.
Affordable healthcare, Climate Change, Aiding philanthropic movements are some areas companies can look into and discover potential. However, to ensure that the invested resources reap meaningful benefits in the long term, the organization’s executives should lead by example and make the efforts worth it.
Keeping the momentum constant is crucial, and of course, as the old saying goes, “Action speaks louder than words,” don’t make empty promises.