In 2014, corporations donated over $17.7 billion to charity. That was an increase of 13.7 percent over the previous year. Corporate social responsibility, or CSR, is good for society but it’s also excellent for a company’s bottom line.
Capitalism is a good thing. In fact, we can say that it’s a great thing. In the last several years we have seen more and more how philanthropy and capitalism are merging. It’s called philanthrocapitalism. I believe it will only accelerate as more for-profit businesses understand that aligning CSR with their companies actually helps drive more profit. Corporations and consumers want to do do business with for-profit organizations that are socially responsible. Additionally, studies have been able to find a correlation between the value of a company and its CSR.
So, how do you go beyond simply giving lip service to CSR?
- Look at CSR as a way to cut costs. Think about it. If you’re developing a product that can actually be produced in a more environmentally friendly way, in today’s world you can achieve two things by looking at what you do with a CSR lens. 1) You can cut costs because there is probably a cheaper and more environmentally friendly way to produce something; and, 2) This is a way for you to demonstrate your social responsibility. In other words, let your partners and consumers know that you understand social impact and your business seeks ways to reduce consumer waste and support socially responsible alternatives to how you do things.
- CSR is a way for you to be creative. I talk about it all the time. Fortune favors the brave; I like to remind people. And today, the brave are those who think different. They look at the same issues that countless other business owners have looked at, but they are creative and deliver the same product or service at a lower price point. In many instances, it can be tied to social responsibility. In the long run, these companies understand that CSR means ongoing sustainability for their business.
- CSR gives you a competitive advantage. In my own businesses, we have been able to define what we do better than anyone else out there. We have been able to define our socially responsible solutions to problems that exist. And, we have always been able to do it in such a way that is looking to deliver excellence. That has given us the competitive advantage over others. This is how you should think of CSR. If you’re able to develop a product or service that makes things better for the consumer or the world at large, that’s an advantage you want to make sure gets promoted.
- The young generations want to work with socially responsible companies. Let’s face it, Millennials are the owners of the world. Like it or not, marketers are doing everything they can to sell to this particular generation, which is now larger than the Baby Boomers. They are going to drive profit for decades to come simply because of their size. They are already making themselves felt in the world of business. And there’s one thing they say loud and clear: They want to work and do business with corporations that are socially responsible. Period.
- CSR brings more business clout. As philanthropy and for-profit business align, it is bringing more clout and power to business. That’s just the way it is. Increasingly, we see companies such as Disney, Pfizer, Apple and GE challenging laws and legislation that they do not see in the best interest of their customers and, consequently, their business. Companies are fighting legislatures about privacy and encryption or even which bathrooms can be used by the public. There’s a reason this is happening. Companies understand that when they stand up for the general public–and their consumers–it will bring in more money. View it as a win/win.
I strongly believe that today’s business owners, large or small, have to stop giving lip service to CSR. The fact of the matter is that it makes economic sense for a business to have a strong CSR program. And, it’s good for consumers and the public who get more people (e.g. powerful businesses and corporations) fighting to make a difference for the betterment of society.
Author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: How to DOMINATE YOUR Fundraising to Create YOUR Success” (Free Digital Download)
© 2016 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved.