01/02/2021 |

6-step Plan for a Good CSR Strategy

Many people and companies make spontaneous donations – often at the last minute
during the Christmas season. But how sustainable is that really? And what could be
a better strategy for 2021 that would help long-term?

Donation boxes

The Pressure to Get Involved Socially Is Increasing

Last year, many people and companies made quick year-end donations to charities. Companies also organized Christmas bazaars to raise money for people in need by gathering discarded clothes and home-baked cookies. It seems that many people were sentimental at the end of the year. The pressure to do something socially always increases at Christmas time. I think we all feel that way, and it’s perfectly human.

How Should One Donate? Is The Focus on Impact or My Interest?

As with many topics, opinions differ here. Johannes Haushofer, behavior and development economist, doesn’t think much of the spontaneous Christmas donation campaigns. He believes people should base their donations on the evidence (the impact of the donations) – and not on what pleases them. That sounds logical at first. The question I have, however, is whether a large number of employees are motivated in this way. Are they willing to get involved in a (fundraising) campaign with which they cannot identify? For example, if company management wants to push an ecological project abroad because a branch is also located there, but a large part of the employees would rather support local schools, is the purpose fulfilled?

Andreas Rickert, founder and head of a consulting firm for charitable organizations, also advises against looking at fundraising campaigns solely from an economic perspective. He thinks it is legitimate to have one’s own interests at heart and to feel better about donating as a result. However, both experts agree on one point – namely that Germans pay too little attention to the impact of their donations.

In order not to lose focus among the multitude of ideas, we have written a CSR guide that helps us to prioritize properly.

At OTRS Group, Social Activities Are Colorful, Yet Focused

At OTRS Group, we have been involved in social activities for a number of years. One focus we clearly have is regarding the topic of sustainability. In addition, we have many other activities where we help with donations or time. Among other things, we have a long-term cooperation with the women’s shelter in Oberursel which we have supported with fundraising campaigns and by designing a Facebook page. In order not to lose focus among the multitude of ideas, we have written a CSR guide that helps us to prioritize properly.

Step-by-Step Plan Helps to Develop The Right Strategy

I can also recommend that every company consider the following step-by-step plan to set up a CSR strategy that fits the company and is successful in the long term.

1. Meaning and purpose:

First of all, those responsible should ask themselves: Why do we want to be socially involved? What is the goal behind it? Is it purely for philanthropic reasons? Or should CSR work motivate employees, bring in new talent, or possibly support marketing/PR efforts? Often all reasons play a role, but it makes sense to prioritize these to better select projects.

2. Budget and resources:

In fact, a budget for CSR should be set in advance, as well as a time allowance for each employee. This is the only way to decide which activities can be considered.

3. HOW can be crucial:

Once the questions of budget and employee resources have been answered, the question arises as to the means – time and/or money – with which a company wishes to help. Usually, a combination of both lends itself. Ideally, employees will get a taste of a charity through their personal assistance, supplemented by donations. Many non-profits tell me that it is actually through donations that they get the most benefit. The majority of organizations, such as old people’s homes, children’s homes or refugee organizations, cannot provide one-time or short-term assistance due to their structures. However, it is always a good idea to keep in touch with the organization and follow up on what the donations are being used for.

4. Goals:

Ultimately, both the short-term and long-term goals of a CSR project should be defined and communicated. For example, in the short term, do you want to please needy children with a gift drive at Christmas? Could the long-term goal then be to get involved with children’s core needs and build a children’s home? To have a real impact, CSR should be integrated into a company’s overall strategy.

At this point, an employee survey is a good way to find out specific interests and motivate employees at an early stage.

5. Employee interests:

What are the interests of employees? Are the majority more interested in environmental protection or projects for children? What are the interests of the company’s management? Should the projects also fit in with the corporate branding? At this point, an employee survey is a good way to find out specific interests and motivate employees at an early stage. Perhaps there are already employees who are privately very involved and can bring these ideas into their jobs.

6. Measuring success and communication:

How can I measure and communicate the success of CSR activities? In order to be able to measure the milestones and the success of CSR, there are now dedicated tools, such as Verso. It is important to communicate these successes transparently to employees as well. In addition to internal communication, there is nothing to stop CSR work from being communicated externally, if it is authentic. Communicate freely according to the motto: “Do good and talk about it.”

In this spirit, I wish you a successful, instructive and helpful 2021. If you would like to share your CSR experiences, I look forward to your comments.

Photos: alexandra lammerink on Unsplash

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