Guest Author: Samantha Tung is a contributing writer and media specialist for Caliber Collision. Caliber participates in many CSR programs nationwide.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an excellent model. The idea is to be socially accountable to a company’s shareholders, investors, and the public. For this reason, CSR is also called corporate citizenship. As a result, companies like to show their impact on society. But, nonprofits can adopt CSR as well.
CSR came in response to abuses of for-profit corporations. Meaning, many did not care about their actions in society. They polluted, for instance, and hurt the environment to increase profits.
CSR takes a step back. It asks, “How can a company responsibly help society? How can it support groups while also boosting the brand?” It turns out that social good is consistent with profits. By embracing CSR, companies attract customers. It also increases the connection between businesses and employees.
CSR and Nonprofits
But, nonprofits should also do CSR for many different reasons. For instance, it increases the chances that nonprofits will attract donor and public support. That’s important for making changes in the community. A more positive view and word of mouth are a few more benefits.
You might think that it’s hard to take these goals and get results. But, the truth is two-thirds of nonprofits print on both sides of office paper. And, they do their best to conserve energy. Those are just two things that qualify as CSR.
Ethics and Nonprofits
Still, many nonprofits don’t want to use the term “CSR.” The reason is because of the first word. To some, “corporate” may not have a positive meaning. Though nonprofits aren’t seeking profits, they are still organizations. So, the term shouldn’t cause too much stress. Nonprofits, even more than for-profits, could benefit from CSR transparency.
It’s not to say that nonprofits work in the shadows. It’s quite the opposite. But the public holds nonprofits to a higher standard. CSR might go even further for nonprofits to attract support. It also helps show that the group is on the level. Yet, some nonprofits face ethical challenges related to several topics. Those include finance, compensation, and political influence.
The call for nonprofit transparency has never been higher. But, rewards are also higher for corporate responsibility. The spotlight is brighter with social media and media scrutiny. Yet, a nonprofit that commits to CSR does better. It shows their leadership in the community.
In other words, commitment to CSR is critical for the public. If nonprofits accept unethical agreements with donors, public opinion could diminish. For instance, if a donor gives money and the group then does or refrains from doing something. In that case, public opinion erodes. Dealing with those donors hurts trust with the public and the brand itself. CSR means taking a better and broader, in particular with donations.
Up to this point, we’ve talked about social impact and ethics. Many times, public opinion can lessen with failing transparency or accounting. Put another way, nonprofits should focus on social good. Still, some aren’t making sure the highest percentage of donations goes to the mission.
Corporate responsibility could mean keeping better records of income and expenses. It could also mean explaining how money does the most good for society. Nonprofits that accept CSR can improve their brands. But, they can also be moral leaders for their teams as well. For instance, workers report higher morale and will be less inclined to take ethical shortcuts when groups have CSR programs.
Author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: Grip & Rip Leadership for Social Impact” (Free Digital Download)
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