Relief Projects

Still defining your organization’s corporate social responsibility initiatives?

Tis the season! What better time of year for small business owners, start-ups and entrepreneurs who haven’t already done so to dive in and begin establishing their social responsibility identity.

Corporate social responsibility is a broad term that encompasses the many elements that make a company a good citizen. But CSR goes beyond compliance, self-regulation and altruism to address how a business formulates and manages its humanitarian creed.

In a tough economy, most small businesses and start-ups also need to be creative when it comes to establishing a philanthropic foundation that can grow with the business.  So where to start?

Start by forming a few east-to-implement strategies:

  • Allow employees an hour or two during the workweek to volunteer their time and talents with a charity or cause of their choosing within the community. Pay them for the hours they’re volunteering. This type of encouragement is becoming common practice among larger corporations, as the benefits to the company far outweigh the cost of paying for an hour or two of an employee’s time spent out of the office. Your return will come in the form of employees’ heightened morale, sense of personal achievement, and improved productivity. Allowing staff members to volunteer for a cause they love—helping out at a local animal shelter for instance, or preparing lunch for an elderly neighbor—is an inexpensive way to earn loyalty. This may be the only time they have for volunteer work, especially for those with young families or second jobs.
  • Offer employees the opportunity to volunteer with your company’s sponsorship projects, individually or as a team.
  • Where possible and appropriate, include your customers in sponsorship projects. Dave Mason, Founder of CabinetHardware.org, offers online retail customers an opportunity to designate a portion of their purchase cost to any one of the charitable projects featured on the CabinetHardware.org website. Customers can also vote for those projects they feel are most deserving to become eligible for a monetary grant of between $1,000 and $10,000.
  • If your company sells merchandise, donate some items to charitable causes. This way you can give back to your community while gaining some positive marketing exposure. Involve your employees in the process of choosing a charity or charities to receive donations.

If your goal is to enhance teamwork, a donation drive or an affiliation with a charity like Habitat for Humanity could be a perfect opportunity to rally employees for work on a single project.

Consider allowing employees to perform pro-bono services utilizing their professional skills or expertise to help people who need your services but can’t afford them. Legal services are a common example of pro-bono volunteer work. Company initiatives in the forms of charity commitments, volunteerism, support for the Arts, education, medical research and aid for disaster victims should be featured prominently on your company website and in marketing literature.

CabinetHardware.org founder Dave Mason designed the innovative FlowOver Project to be the cutting edge charitable arm of CabinetHardware.org.  FlowOver makes it easy and painless for retail customers to participate in the company’s humanitarian endeavors.

The first-of-its-kind FlowOver project combines the powers of ecommerce and crowdfunding to make a difference in peoples lives.

Research on corporate stewardship programs has found that those businesses with established, well-defined CSR initiatives benefit from more motivated and productive employees who enjoy working for a company that is committed to social and humanitarian causes.

Whether raising funds for disaster victims or building decent schools in the world’s poorest communities, studies of business models and companies with and without CSR initiatives in place find that the more benevolent the company, the more loyal and involved employees will be in their jobs.

The possibilities for creating CSR initiatives within your small business are endless, as inexpensive as you need them to be, and easy to implement. The sooner you start, the sooner you and your company can make an impact on the community before the holiday season is in full gear.

Most companies today, regardless of size, love the idea of corporate social responsibility. Big corporations proudly trumpet their CSR enterprise and leadership, and the global impact they have. Subaru, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Google and many other business leaders have entire company divisions devoted to their corporate social responsibility initiatives.

Most importantly, when it comes to establishing your social responsibility platform, find ways to include your employees, think outside the box to come up with fundraising opportunities that sere a specific purpose (teamwork building, employee empowerment, etc.) and if it’s possible and appropriate, make your efforts as interactive as possible with your customers.

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