You might have heard a lot of discussions lately about the trend towards positioning your business as a ‘good company’. Whilst we’d all like to think of our company as one of the good guys, do strategies to ensure you are seen as ‘good’ actually benefit you and your company?
In response to recent customer demand, the landscape has shifted. Customers are now demanding that businesses behave differently and have a positive impact on society, the environment and the economy. In reaction to this companies are creating their own policies and are even assigning job roles specifically designed to implement a sustainable business approach. So, is it fair to suggest that no major business is complete these days without a Corporate Social Responsibility strategy?
What exactly is Corporate Social Responsibility?
Corporate Social Responsibility is a corporation’s initiatives to assess and take responsibility for their impact on the environment and social wellbeing. At its core, CSR involves going beyond looking solely at how to make the most money but to include a wider commitment to building a better society through your business practices and activities.
IBM has been doing it for ages. But looking after company reputation is not their primary driver says Mr Wakefield - Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs Manager, IBM, UK.
"You have to be authentic otherwise people become very sceptical about who you are and why you're doing it, and that can be very damaging."
Working with a charity: Is it just box ticking?
Not at all. Your customers are interested in all aspects of what you and your business are doing, including how you are giving back to the community and your staff.
‘Charity work’ is much more than just giving money away, it's about working in partnership towards a shared goal. You should treat it as seriously as any other business tasks or responsibilities. View it as an investment in you and your staffs future.
Do customers really care if you work with a charity?
Recent surveys show that consumers are willing to reward companies that give back to society by buying their products, even at a higher premium. 88% of consumers said they were more likely to buy from a company that supports and engages in activities to improve society. This is particularly true with the Millennial generation and Generation X, often described as mega consumers, they are valuable customers you need to attract.
Working with charities can help improve your brand image and help you gain a competitive position.
By working with charities, you can attract groups outside your normal target audience and gain new customers for your business. Working with charities can build stronger relationships with customers to make them more passionate about your business's mission.
How to engage with charities?
Getting involved with a charitable cause doesn’t mean you give away all your money. The best corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies combine financial support with innovative approaches for sharing business assets and knowledge.
One of the first things a business needs to do is set a goal of gaining credibility within the community. This means you need to be able to show that you understand the relevant issues and what is currently being done to solve them. Being able to demonstrate your knowledge of the issue and creating purposeful solutions with a charity makes a larger impact and proves that you are a credible community member.
At Lime, we would urge brands to look at charity partnerships as long-term, sustainable investments. Charitable partnerships mirror our core business ethos; improving, adding value and making a difference where we can to the lives of those assisted by our chosen charity.
Establish long-term relationships with charities and ensure the causes are something that your business is passionate about and/or has a good fit with your brand and community. Bigger charities have a larger total number of supporters and resources which can help share your partnership to a larger audience but ensure the charity has a local presence. You can also choose to work with a larger charity if your goals are to expand in similar regions. A smaller, local charity may have a more passionate, involved support base which can provide you with a better understanding of local issues and a deeper relationship. The main goal of a relationship with a charity is to make the relationship long-term, so you can expect long-term mutual benefits.
Like we said, CSR shouldn’t be just a box-ticking or be a PR exercise. All activity should be transparent and authentic.
What are the key benefits?
The rewards and perks of working at a ‘good’ company can be great; good camaraderie; fun activities; regular opportunities for development; and, hopefully, some profits. It’s hard work, but definitely worth it. But, what happens when it comes time to share those rewards? The feel-good aspect can quickly be replaced by feelings that after scraping together the cash to start your business and working harder than you ever have in your life, why should you share what you have worked so hard to earn? Cash is important to the survival of your business. You need it to pay for your staff, buy materials, keep the lights on and, hopefully, pay yourself at the end. Giving it away seems like the last thing you should do.
Giving back to your community can vastly improve employee engagement. it’s hard to believe but sometimes people become disengaged with their jobs, but it does happen. In a Gallup poll of 350,000 employed people, 52% were disengaged with their jobs and 18% were actively disengaged; Gallup estimates that actively disengaged employees cost the US economy a total $450 billion to 550 billion per year. By creating volunteer programs with your staff, you can increase employee engagement that then reduces turnover and can help attract new higher talent. In a survey by Net Impact, 53% of workers want a job where they can make an impact. 64% of companies report that a CSR strategy had a positive impact on staff engagement. By having employees volunteer and work with charities, a business can actually see turnover costs decrease.
Looking at it that way, if working with charities was only about that personal, feel-good emotion, fewer businesses would be doing it. The business benefits of working with charities are there, but you need to be strategic about your giving in order to support your business goals. There’s more to giving to charity than just handing over cash.
Besides giving back and tax deductions, here are some other great reasons to partner with a charity:
It’s a great opportunity to attract new business investment and funding opportunities
It’s been proven to increase customer retention and engagement
It’s the perfect time to develop and enhance relationships with customers, suppliers and networks
It can help your business attract, retain and maintain a happy productive workforce
It will help you differentiate yourself from your competitors and show your personality
It can generate innovation, new skills development and lifelong learning
It’s an opportunity to improve your business reputation and standing
You can generate positive publicity and media opportunities due to media interest in ethical business activities
Customers like interesting businesses who have extracurricular interests
You’ll enjoy it!
Lime Venue Portfolio has a unique relationship with charities. Many of the venues within our portfolio are themselves not for profit organisations, zoos, museums, country houses and visitor attractions that rely heavily on the meetings and events business they get to reinvest in their attractions. It’s a relationship that goes both ways though, and Lime Venue Portfolio venues are also a major supplier to the many fundraising events that charities have every year for a whole host of different and worthy causes.
This relationship is incredibly important to us and a fundamental structure of our brand, therefore we wanted to create an offer for charities with the express purpose of encouraging them to have more fundraising events, and for them to better profit from them. Join Now
Whether you’re looking to plan a large charity fundraising dinner, a small meeting of your charities board, or a networking event or party to celebrate your charities supporters, our dedicated Charity Account Manager, Julia Simpson is here to help.