We’ve come a long way since Milton Friedman famously declared that ‘the one and only social responsibility of business is to increase its profits’.
What is a community investment strategy?
A community investment strategy falls under the broader umbrella of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). As Jackie explains:
“CSR is a business framework that helps a company be socially accountable — to itself, its stakeholders, and the public. A community investment strategy is one way for organisations to execute this, via voluntary contributions or actions that help local communities or society to achieve improved environmental or social outcomes. Typically, community investment relates to an organisation’s business objectives.
“For example, a financial services business might focus on increasing financial literacy or providing access to financial services,” Jackie explains.
How you support your community doesn’t need to be large-scale. For example, you can have employees spend a day volunteering, similar to Deloitte’s annual Impact Day, which sees thousands of employees spend a day assisting a range of local charities.
Alternatively, you can sponsor or partner with a local cause, like Who Gives a Crap, who donates 50% of its profits to organisations that work with local communities to build sustainable and scalable sewerage solutions.
How to start your own community investment program
Here’s the most important part: in whatever way you give back – it must be authentic and genuine.
For example, brands that were seen to be using the results of Australia’s 2017 nationwide marriage equality survey to shamelessly flog products experienced serious backlash.
“People who care about certain causes remember the companies that have supported them.”
So rather than simply hijacking a timely topic, Jackie recommends taking an “integrated approach”, where you embed community investment into your business strategy, so it influences everything you do.
Here are her top tips:
- Think about your purpose. “Connecting your corporate giving to your business purpose is really powerful,” she says. “So, if your purpose is to make the world a cleaner place, you might focus corporate giving and volunteering on activities that achieve that.” This also ensures your efforts will resonate with staff and customers.
- Let your employees choose. Using a company survey or a platform like Good2Give allows your team to choose from a list of options connected to your business. They’ll get a lot more from (and give more to) the program if they can pick a cause close to their hearts.
- Measure your impact. “Understand exactly what impact you want to have from the start. This allows you to measure whether you’re achieving what you set out to, and tweak the program if necessary,” finishes Jackie.
Why giving is good for employees and the business
Giving back boosts company reputation, workplace culture, employer brand and the bottom line. These are all happy bonuses to the deeply rewarding connection to your community that comes from doing good.
It’s a smart strategy for the future, too. As Jackie points out, people – especially younger individuals – are increasingly prioritising working at companies that share their values.
“It makes sense, since work takes up so much of our lives,” she says.
“It’s really hard to be in an organisation that doesn’t have the same values as us.”
The facts of giving back
This a what good community investment strategy can do for your business:
- Improve employee attraction and retention
A study found that 64% of people won’t take a job if a company doesn’t have strong CSR values, and 83% would be more loyal to a company that helps them give back to their society and environment.
- Create a better company culture
A thought-out corporate giving program contributes to a positive and inclusive culture.
“People feel connected to something bigger than themselves and it gets them thinking about others. This really has a snowball effect on culture,” Jackie explains.
- Boost your company’s reputation
In one study, 43% of customers said they would have a better opinion of businesses that gave a small percentage (up to 5%) of their annual profits to charity.
- Increase sales. A recent study found 93% of Australians would buy more and recommend a business that demonstrated empathy towards them and the community.
Meanwhile, another study found that only 44% of respondents consider price to be the most important factor when choosing a company and its products. The majority of people rank a company’s commitment to the environment (71%), social responsibility (68%) and giving back to the local community (68%) higher.
To sum up…
The challenging nature of 2020 has brought home the importance of community, and with today’s mobile workforce increasingly looking for a sense of purpose and meaning in what they do, corporate giving is the ideal solution.
With such deep and far-reaching benefits for everyone involved, why not give it a go?
You can read about headspace here, an organisation that CVCheck is supporting at the moment.