The concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been around for decades, but it’s only recently that businesses have begun to recognize the importance of creating positive social impact projects through business. As companies like yours become increasingly aware of their role in society and act on it, they are finding new ways to integrate projects that have a lasting social benefit.
In this blog post, we’ll be taking a closer look at some of the different types of social impact projects that businesses can undertake.
This is one of the most common ways companies seek to create positive change. Companies use their financial resources to support the causes they care about and donate to charity or non-profit organizations. Corporate philanthropy can have a major impact on society, as it helps fund important projects and initiatives that would otherwise be impossible to achieve.
Think of this category as the mega-donations, these are critical to the success of hospital foundations, health and science research or capital fundraising projects. If this describes your company, that’s marvellous, there’s a definite need for your contributions to society.
Some companies just want the fancy cheque presentation photo opp. They ‘tick the box’ that they’ve given a sizeable donation to charity, and it’s done.
On the flip side, I prefer the approach of Developing a Strategic Giving Plan. Purpose-driven businesses with a strong sense of purpose (why they exist in the world and how they are creating benefit for society), coupled with a deep knowing of the cause that lights them up and one they are willing to be a champion for, approaches philanthropy a bit differently.
If your business wishes to be more thoughtful and aligned in your giving, the next step (after purpose and cause alignment) is to then create an alignment with a non-profit or charity to create a unified partnership with a vested interest in their success. Your giving plan is therefore better constructed and executed. In this way, your business can share with your community and stakeholders why you care about the specific issue and the charitable partner working on the problem.
This approach makes it much easier to storytell around the cause or issue, and how your business and the charitable partner are working together to help solve it. Not to mention your business is able to track and measure the impact of your contributions with greater ease. We offer a full end-to-end framework to help our clients with this process in the Social Good Academy.
Another way businesses can create social change is through community engagement. This involves getting involved with local organizations and causes, to:
- organize a pantry program to provide healthy meal options for families in need
- partner with a local school to provide funding for a classroom so the teacher doesn’t have to purchase school supplies
- providing job opportunities for those in need
- get involved in outreach initiatives like mentorship programs or building homes for low-income families.
- or simply sponsoring a community event
By taking an active role in the lives of people in your community, you can help create positive change from within.
Creating social change starts with engaging employees within the company.
Through staff training and education, your company can empower your workforce to become agents of positive change to support employees’ volunteering efforts by:
- offering paid time off for participating in community projects, or the cause your business supports
- supporting in-office charitable fundraising events
- matching employee donations dollar-for-dollar to causes employees are passionate about.
By supporting your employees, your business can help create a culture of corporate citizenship.
As a business owner, you could use your influence to create meaningful social change by creating awareness around the issues you’re passionate about, like:
- creating customer engagement contests or campaigns that encourage customer feedback and involvement. For a beach cleanup for example, create a photo contest that asks your customers and community to tag you in a post of them participating in the cleanup.
- participate in local events that focus on your issues, such as Earth Day
- sponsor a local charity walk or run for your cause
- create a blog, podcast, or video series to spread awareness of your issue
- use your social media, digital or print channels to bring attention to pressing issues. Whether it’s through advertising or company-funded events, you can make an impact by spreading the word.
In addition to raising awareness, companies can also encourage their employees and customers to make donations to charities or social causes.
By providing a platform for giving, your business can make it easier for those who want to give back, by:
- cause-marketing opportunities at the point-of-purchase. You’ve seen these types of donations when Tim Horton’s has Camp Day – buy a cookie and all proceeds go to fund low-income kids to go to camp.
- by matching donations as an additional incentive for people to donate. There have been many examples of this from government and businesses alike to aid the Ukraine war relief efforts and natural disaster relief.
Your business can promote volunteerism in your community. We’ve already spoken about employee engagement and volunteerism; however businesses in a similar industry could partner together.
- By reducing the barrier of competition, several businesses (think multiple real estate brokers, or mortgage broker offices) can partner with charities and organizations to provide a larger pool of volunteers for a specific project (like a food bank, soup kitchen, or house building project). This not only helps those in need, but it also provides team-building opportunities within an industry and allows employees to give back in a meaningful way.
Final Thoughts on Creating Social Change through Social Impact Projects
Businesses can use their platforms to create social change. Your impact matters!
By actively participating in corporate philanthropy or developing a strategic giving plan with an aligned charity or non-profit, your contributions can be life-changing for the organization and your community.
You can encourage your customers and employees, and the community as a whole, to join in on campaigns that focus on issues like climate change, human rights, and poverty. By thinking outside the box, and collaborating with other businesses and industries, you can show your commitment to making the world a better place. Have fun in the process!
If you desire to make a greater impact using your business as a force for good, in your community or around the world, Business 4 Social Good is here to help. We work with clients seeking a better giving strategy that engages your employees, customers, and stakeholders. We help to align your giving with your purpose and values to build an authentic, sustainable partnership benefitting your business, the non-profit or charity, and the community. Visit our website to learn more.