We have already discussed the benefits of getting involved to do even more good and include your employees in these actions. Now comes the time when you wonder where and how to start. Don’t be stressed out about that, we have what you need: our best tips and tricks to get your CSR program up and running in no time!
But first, what is CSR?
CSR stands for Corporate Social Responsibility and by that, a company operates in a manner that clearly shows that it is contributing to do good for society, in many different ways. Whether the brand is getting involved in sustainability activities or social justice and equality actions, or grants, donations or scholarships, it shows, by its CSR action plan, that it means to show that the whole company is committed to having a positive impact on all aspects of society - environment, society, economy, etc.
Years after years, companies have understood the importance of giving back to society both for their brand image and the loyalty of their employees - among other positive impacts, and for society in general. A lot of large corporations, like Starbucks and Ben & Jerry’s, strive to be on the “CSR market” and position themselves as leaders in CSR positioning.
As CSR is a way for companies to be held responsible for their impact on the environment and society, it has become clear for companies to get involved in it and start implementing a program for CSR and social impact activities to be diffused among their employees. Investing in CSR is worth the effort, the time and the money: as it reinforces the bond between employees and their employer, it also strengthens the loyalty of customers and the brand image on the industry market.
Now that you feel more comfortable with the concept of CSR, it is time to set a clear idea of how you can start building your own CSR strategy.
The magic steps to build a CSR strategy
#1 Choose the area that fits your brand
CSR covers a lot of different topics. Environment, philanthropy, ethics, economics are the most common ones. Surely there is one in this list that suits you most and corresponds to your brand and the values of your company. Choose wisely : listen to the people you’re surrounded by, your colleagues and employees might have a lot of interesting insights about it.
#2 Build a strong team to manage your CSR strategy
A CSR strategy is not the job of one single person. It requires the involvement of several people, the sharing of ideas and information. Some companies have a whole department dedicated to CSR, others link it to HR, but others also build the team by choosing the right people in various positions and departments that have a strong interest in CSR. Depending on your goals with the CSR program, Marketing and Communication might also be involved in the project.
#3 Define the concept, the benefits of it, the KPIs and its budget
As you have chosen the type of CSR strategy that you want to develop in your company, it’s time to look at the various activities and projects that you want to build. Each one of them has its own goals and objectives. Build the plan so you can share it, communicate on it and get the approval of everyone.
Because a CSR project is a complex detailed project on its own, it obviously requires time, effort, people...and money. Once your plan is built, it is important to present it to your stakeholders so they understand the benefits of it and why they should agree to invest in it. With the right means, you can do a lot : it’s up to you to prove to them what you could achieve with their help. Include the goals and KPIs that you’re planning on reaching and the ROI that you aim to get. Have a clear idea on where to go, even if the journey will be longer or different : it’s good to show that you still want to reach it, no matter what.
#4 Manage your CSR activities
What is the preferred and most effective way to handle every step of your CSR project? It depends on the extent of it, the complexity and richness of the activities you’ve implemented in your strategy, the number of people involved, etc. Maybe some random notebook and a pen would be enough; but maybe you’ll reach some frustrating limitations at some point. Your project will evolve, and with this evolution comes new challenges. To make sure to face them all, you should know that tools have been developed to make your life easier and ensure you manage your projects effectively, efficiently and easily.
I don’t mean to look out for my own interests but our all-in-one platform is the best way to do it. The tool is intuitive and easy to use, the clear interface and the numerous modular add-ons fit your needs and adapt to your project and the evolution of your strategy. Well, there are so many things to tell you about Optimy and what we can do for you, so just discover more here and there and reach out to us when you’re ready to make the best out of your CSR strategy. In the meantime, let’s go on with the next steps in building a strong CSR strategy, shall we?
#5 Integrate your CSR strategy in your business strategy as a whole part
Sometimes people and entrepreneurs think that CSR strategies are just something they should do to stay “en vogue”, to make sure to follow the trend. It’s not their real business, it’s not the core of their activity. They agreed to let some members of their teams develop it for the sake of the brand image, maybe. But that’s the wrong way to see it. Don’t think of your CSR project as something “next to” your business activities.
It is actually a part of it. It brings values and culture and benefits to your business on its own so don’t leave it on the outside: embrace it, communicate on it, include it in your internal and external communications. You have reasons to be proud of what you achieve: let your people and customers know about it.
Once your CSR strategy is up and running and you manage it via a great intuitive tool, make sure to plan some time to reflect on your KPI, goals and ROI and adapt your strategy according to the results you’ll get. Involve your community in this process: employees, customers, stakeholders have a voice, make sure to listen to it. Via survey, forms, brainstorming sessions, gather the feedback and suggestions you might need to improve or correct your current CSR plan. You might doubt my words now, but worry not: what you’ll get out of it is key. You’ll thank me later.