Today’s business is changing fast, and more and more companies are focusing on social issues. It’s fast becoming a necessity for the good such a commitment can do for the community and its impact on profitability. A recent survey by Sprout Social highlighted that 70% of consumers feel it’s important for businesses to take a stand on a range of social and political issues —a sentiment shared by most CEOs. According to a PwC study, 64% consider corporate social responsibility a cornerstone for long-term business success.
In essence, doing good is synonymous with good business. Toms is certainly a testament to that, first donating a pair of shoes for every pair purchased and now giving a third of its profits to “grassroots good.” Bombas has taken a similar approach to giving back, donating socks, t-shirts, and underwear to at-risk people around the globe for every item purchased. Warby Parker donates a pair of glasses for every pair sold, Ben & Jerry’s donates 7.5% of its annual profits, and BKQK Coffee gives 10% of its profits to charity. The list goes on and on.
Increasingly, stakeholders demand such social accountability from businesses, both big and small. Not that you’ll win many custom awards for your efforts, but they will like to impact your bottom line. Here are some actionable steps to jumpstart your journey toward making a positive community impact:
Start with a Purpose
Most, if not all, businesses launch with some sort of purpose, and your organization may already be doing something for the community. Determine whether that “something” aligns with a social cause. If it does, now is the time to look for ways to improve upon that purpose and whether it can be done on a larger scale. If your business’s main purpose is profits, commit to making a social impact.
Make sure that wherever you plan to direct your attention, it makes sense to your business. Otherwise, you risk appearing disingenuous in your efforts, affecting your reputation and negatively impacting business growth.
Play to Your Strengths
Leverage your business’s innate strengths to ensure authenticity in your social impact endeavors.
Doing so ensures that your efforts always align with your organization and its core values and fully utilize your expertise. A technology company, for example, could get involved with a local STEM nonprofit and hold workshops for local youth who want to build their knowledge, skills, and confidence in technology.
Keep Things Small — at First
No one is looking for you to boil the ocean. Consumers, employees, and other stakeholders want your business to give back to the community and won’t fault you for initially starting small.
It’s often better to take smaller steps as your organization works toward making a change in the world, as it will serve as your foundation for other efforts going forward. It also allows you to experiment, learn, and build something lasting that can impact the world.
Make sure to utilize your team by offering them the opportunity to commit to social good. Maybe institute a volunteer program, allowing employees to take a day or two off each year to participate in a local social initiative. Perhaps match donations made by employees up to a certain amount annually. Get creative with your efforts to find what works for your organization.
Measure Your Progress
Upon rolling out your initiatives, it’s vital to measure their impact. Treat your efforts like any other business effort and establish a few KPIs. Track your progress. This will help identify areas for improvement and provide information on your impact that can later be used in any materials you may want to create when reporting about your efforts.
Getting serious about corporate social responsibility has become necessary these days, not just for the good you can do but for the prosperous future it can build for your business. Rest assured that you’re heading down the right path as long as the cause makes sense to your organization and plays to your strengths.