Doing Good Differently: 5 ways to make CSR more enterprising

According to Dan Pallotta, “The way we think about charity is dead wrong”. In his 2013 TED talk, he challenges the general concept of charity as we have been accustomed to since ages.

The dictionary defines ‘charity’ as: an organisation set up to provide assistance and raise money for those in need. Traditionally, it is seen as a linear flow of money or resources from the privileged to the deprived. While doing so, any profit or benefit is, largely, discouraged. In the modern times, we have moved from individual philanthropy to corporate responsibility.

CSR or Corporate Social Responsibility, which was a voluntary act in the past, has now become a regulatory requirement. These environmental or community initiatives are often seen as ‘obligations’, and hence the value created by them are negligible. A large chunk of those eligible to pay, prefer to view it as a financial transaction rather than an opportunity to build social currency. This is par for the course for anything that is imposed. But, professionalism complements volunteerism. If it reaps more benefit to performing voluntary activities professionally, without losing the significance for the cause, it could prove more productive for the stakeholders as well as shareholders.

What if we pursue corporate social responsibility as aggressively as we chase our sales targets? What if we have a capitalist outlook towards our social responsibility, and probably create much more impact than we could have ever imagined? What if the resources that we “donate” to get tax benefits also give us additional manifold proceeds?

Here is a list of five approaches that your organisation could implement; to get, give, and gain maximum out of their CSR expenditure:

Choose your cause wisely

One of the most important aspects of CSR should be to strategize and scrutinize the cause that the business wishes to get into, instead of just donating to the first cause that it comes across.

Reverse Planning

To help make a better plan and strategy, the method that really works is planning in reverse. It is important to foresee the results, visualise the response that the enterprise desires, the goodwill that the cause may create for them, and then figure the cause by the method of elimination.

Capitalist Approach

People raise their eyebrows at the mention of a corporate behemoth that seeks profit while doing well. Michael Porter, famed Harvard business strategist, has coined the term “shared value” to define a concept by which companies become more competitive while simultaneously alleviating social problems in communities where they operate.

Scalability

One of the most important facets of Shared Value is- Scalability. The social good is not merely from the marginal cream of the entire company’s finance, but a core financial value of the company. And hence, when CSR, just like business, is measurable and scalable, the impact it creates is rather powerful.

Win-Win-Win

This aggressive go-getter attitude, which traditionally is seen as rather selfish, helps the cause much more than traditional “charity”, creates a much greater influence, and brings goodwill to the industry. This creates a win-win-win situation for the business, community and the government as a whole. So, who is complaining?

Just a small tweak in the attitude that the establishment has towards these funds, that the enterprise anyway “needs” to shell out, could great a greater influence not only on the community but also the company as a whole.

U+ Collective is a Design, Planning & Consultancy firm that offers CSR strategy, implementation and outreach services. Please let us know your views on uplus.collective@gmail.com.