Over the last 10 years in the corporate sphere we hear the term Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) being used more and more; but what is it? Why is it important to companies? And why should fundraising be a central part of your company’s CSR policy?
What is CSR?
“Corporate social responsibility is the term used to describe the way that a business takes into account the financial, environmental and social impacts of decisions and actions it is involved in” as referenced in the New South Wales Government’s Small Business Connect website. It’s essentially the corporate sector giving back to their community.
Why is CSR important?
As the NSW Government website explains “It is an increasingly important issue in business, as managers, consumers, investors and employees have begun to understand how economic growth is linked to social and environmental well-being.Corporate social responsibility is a key issue for any organisation aiming for long term sustainability. Whilst it is a mostly voluntary concept, there is increasing pressure on organisations to make a positive contribution to society, or at the least, reduce their negative impact.”
CSR and Fundraising
In developing your CSR strategy, there are many areas of focus that you can consider: sustainability, business processes, ethical sourcing and employee volunteering. I would also recommend that fundraising should be a central component to your strategy.
Why? Research shows that those organisations that don’t include fundraising in their CSR strategy are missing a significant opportunity. Below, I cover off three points to remember when planning your own fundraising initiative – you may well find it makes a bigger impact on your organisation than you imagined.
1. Fundraising Drives Employee Engagement
Forbes conducted a survey in May 2013, which found that ‘89% of companies believe that their CSR activities lead to happier employees’ and ‘76% of companies believed they ended up with better more engaged employees as a result of their CSR programs’.
In a similar study in 2010, Hewitt Associates found that a fundraising strategy not only helped increase employee engagement, but made a positive impact on their recruitment process when looking for new employees. They found that 60% of companies agree with the statement “Philanthropy and volunteerism are critical for recruiting younger qualified employees” and ‘58% of employees would take a 15% pay cut to work in an organisation with values like their own’.
2. Fundraising helps your CSR initiatives reach more people
You may be surprised to learn that the average Company fundraising profile on JustGiving has 41 fundraisers linked to it. This means that on average, 41 people have been sufficiently motivated by your organisation’s fundraising initiative to give up their time to raise funds.
Your active company fundraisers are an incredibly useful tool for getting the message out about your CSR goals and the charities you’re working with. They act as living, breathing brand ambassadors for your business, inspiring other people to get involved too.
When you consider that each fundraiser who links to Facebook via JustGiving has an average of 335 Facebook friends, you can see that your corporate fundraising initiative has a potential reach of over 13,000 people. This means that each time an employee shares a post about their fundraising activity they’re reminding a potentially huge audience about your CSR initiatives.
3. Raising money gives tangible help to causes that need it most
There’s no denying that charities need donations to survive. An average of 621 people will donate to your company’s cause on JustGiving, raising close to $44,000 for your chosen charity. This is a hugely valuable contribution, and yet we’re hearing more and more from charities who are finding it difficult to work with new corporate partners as they increasingly move away from traditional fundraising.
In many ways it’s understandable that volunteering is sometimes seen as a preferable alternative to fundraising as it encourages employees to engage more directly with a cause. Realistically though, it’s the latter that enables charities to do their vital work. You’d be hard pushed to find a cause that would choose volunteer time over a cash donation, as money is the lifeblood of any charity. That said, there’s no reason why the two approaches should be mutually exclusive.
A CSR initiative that recognises the huge potential of both volunteer time and fundraising will ultimately be more successful than one that chooses not to fundraise at all.