The results are in: effective corporate leadership is more essential than ever before. Recent trends point to an increased need for businesses to focus on their employees’ mental health and well-being, provide upskilling opportunities, and offer flexible work arrangements. Essentially, skilled, dedicated employees are one of the most valuable investments a business can make.
But beyond providing a positive work environment, what can businesses do to engage employees and retain them long-term? Thankfully, research has been done on this point as well. Double the Donation reports that 88% of Millennials find their jobs more fulfilling if their employer offers corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, 58% of company leaders consider workplace giving important for retaining employees, and 55% of employees claim they would take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company.
In other words, businesses that don’t already have CSR programs should consider launching one to connect with and retain their employees. To help start your new initiative off right, this guide will explore the core five steps businesses can take to get their CSR programs up and running.
1. Conduct an internal assessment.
To understand where and how a CSR program will fit into your business, start by looking inward and completing an internal evaluation. This evaluation should review team member opinions, your current practices, and your budget for CSR initiatives. Take these steps to conduct your own:
- Speak with various team members. As a major benefit of implementing a CSR program is increased employee engagement, speak with your employees about the type of CSR initiatives they would like to see. Meet with employees in multiple departments to ensure you capture a wide range of opinions.
- Assess ethics. Take a critical eye to your business practices and whether they meet ethical standards. For example, do workplace accidents occur? Are workers’ rights honored? Are your finances accurate and transparent? To get an unbiased view of your business, it may be necessary to bring in third-party groups to conduct this part of your assessment.
- Budget. What resources can your company allocate to a CSR program? This includes funds for donations to charitable causes, personnel to implement and oversee new internal practices, and investments in new technology to facilitate and manage your program.
Record the results of this assessment to reference throughout your entire program launch. Be aware that your assessment report is a living document that can and should evolve as new developments occur.
2. Establish a philanthropic mission.
Take the results of your assessment to determine your area of focus and state philanthropic goals. Then, summarize the intended direction of your CSR efforts in a cohesive mission statement.
This statement should be broad in order to encompass all current and future initiatives. For comparison, program-specific guidelines like a corporate charitable giving policy will include detailed requirements and process procedures, while a philanthropic mission might be a statement as simple as, “We aim to promote sustainability, reduce waste in our production process, and achieve a carbon-zero footprint.” How a company plans to fulfill this mission will need to be detailed in more specific policy guidelines.
3. Research initiatives.
Once you know your general CSR goals, consider what types of initiatives will help you achieve those goals. Often, multiple kinds of programs can fulfill the same philanthropic mission, such as donating to an environmental-focused nonprofit and making a dedicated effort to use recycled materials in your production process.
Ultimately, the right initiative for your company depends on your specific situation. Research programs you’re considering to see how effective they were at similar organizations. For instance, you might look into:
- Matching gifts. Allow employees to be a part of your CSR program through workplace giving initiatives like matching gifts. Nonprofits Source’s analysis of corporate giving trends reports that matching gift programs are growing in popularity, especially for small and medium-sized companies launching new programs.
- Sponsorships. Provide support to organizations that already have the infrastructure to make an impact by sponsoring local nonprofits. Additionally, sponsorships can bring benefits to the businesses that provide them, such as new marketing opportunities.
- Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices. ESG has become a buzzword in the corporate world as businesses with strong environmental and social practices are considered safe investments and are looked on favorably by customers and employees alike. Consider where you can make your company greener, such as by eliminating waste in your production process or reducing annual power consumption.
Keep in mind that as long as you have the resources to support them, CSR programs are not an either/or situation. Your company might choose to launch an employee matching gift program, sponsor a local nonprofit’s annual fundraising event, and implement new internal green initiatives.
4. Determine guidelines.
We touched on the need for program-specific policy guidelines earlier, and now is the time to hammer out those guidelines. Ensure you’ve done thorough research into your chosen CSR programs and are aware of standard processes, required resources, management strategies, and reporting practices.
For instance, if you intend to launch a matching gift program, you would need to set the following guidelines:
- The ratio you will match gifts at
- Minimum and maximum donation amounts you will match
- Which causes or types of organizations you will approve matches to
- Which employees are eligible
- Deadlines for submitting matching gift requests
Additionally, a company interested in matching gifts or most other types of CSR programs will need CSR software that facilitates many of their new initiative’s core functions. Research software vendors and the features their CSR software provides to find a scalable solution that will support your business long-term.
5. Announce your program.
Once you have your specific CSR goal, established guidelines, and the tools in place to run your program, it’s time to announce it to your team. Promoting your CSR program and inviting employees to be part of the process will help boost engagement, and employee feedback and questions can help you improve your program.
These ideas can be especially helpful for further developing and solidifying your program after its initial launch. For example, if your CSR efforts involve taking active steps to be transparent about company practices and maintain ethical financial practices, you may need to adjust your communication strategy based on employees’ responses to strike a balance between straightforward honesty and professionalism.
Then, announce your program externally. Consider contacting your local news networks to share a press release statement explaining your philanthropic mission and goals for your new CSR program. Once employees and customers know about your new CSR efforts, you can look forward to improved engagement rates and an elevated reputation.
Double the Donation